Both my boys had stamps in their passports before they were even 6 months old. That may seem normal for those of you outside the US, but there are quite a few people in my hometown that don’t even have a passport. However, my travel bucket list is long, so I work on that list each year. I will travel for vegan food! Would you? What’s your wanderlust?
In exercising my wanderlust, here are 10 international travel tips that I follow for safety and less stress when roaming the globe:
1) Vegan travel has come a long way. I used to pack all of my own food and plan ahead for dinner at my destination at a restaurant that is vegan friendly. When flying internationally preorder your food with the airline more than 24 hours before your flight. Order “strict vegetarian” to eliminate eggs and dairy as well. Nice thing here is you usually get your food first and because it is a special order, your meal is more than likely fresher and tastier than the mass produced airline meals! (I will admit sometimes the wires get crossed so I always bring a few snack items just in case.)
2) Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This is a free program the US government has put together to keep Americans safe abroad. When you travel you get warnings and alerts for a particular country and will help the government assist you better in case of an emergency.
3) Does your Mom bug you about knowing where you are all the time when abroad? Keep her up to date or at least someone by emailing a copy of your itinerary of your trip beforehand. While you don’t need to call and check in everyday, be sure to send quick emails so that everyone knows you are having a great time! I also check in using Skype – it’s free and you can also video chat!
4) It is a big hassle when you lose your passport or any other important travel documents when you are overseas. While you may have a photo copy of your passport in your luggage, consider storing it electronically – scan your passport and other important documents and store them in the cloud. I’ve tried taking a photo and storing on my phone, but if your phone gets stolen then that doesn’t help either (not that it hasn’t happened to me… 2 well, maybe 3 times, that it hasn’t happened Check out TurboScan. Also – save a scanned photo of your luggage too – a picture is worth a thousand words when you are trying to communicate in a foreign language you do not speak!
5) Your medical insurance more than likely does not cover you when you are outside your home country border (check it!). Strongly consider getting traveler’s insurance, it’s not that expensive and can be a life saver if you get in an accident. Check out International Medical Group for various plans you can get.
6) Read up a little bit on customs and traditions in the countries you will be visiting to avoid any major cultural faux pas. Knowing about greetings, hugging, tipping, gift giving, etc. can go a long way in not offending locals you visit. I’ll often spend a little time reading Lonely Planet or Frommer’s on the plane ride for a crash course on customs and traditions. Of course, nothing beats being immersed in a culture with extended stays, but upfront knowledge can give you a jump start!
7) Call your credit card company BEFORE you leave for your trip (the phone number is on the back of your card) and let them know where you are going and how long you will be there. The credit card fraud departments are extra vigilant these days and sometimes it doesn’t take much to get a freeze on your account. ALSO, if travelling with a partner – have separate credit cards in case one gets stolen.
8) When traveling abroad consider investing in a cellphone plan with free global roaming. If you don’t have a global roaming plan, you are going to be racking up a giant bill – even if you are using texts you’ll be charged a lot more than you are used to. Check out T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan as an option. Alternatively, turn off data roaming, just use Wi-Fi at your hotel, internet cafes, or other restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi. (Text messages don’t apply with Wi-Fi, but you can use one of the internet based services such a Skype.)
9) For your safety – do not use short cuts (especially for women traveling alone) if you are trying to lessen your travel time. Keep to the main roads. Or take a taxi. Or consider hiring a guide that knows the about the quickest routes, unexpected political rallies or parades, or best shopping areas
10) If you are traveling in Europe, you probably don’t have to worry, but if you are traveling to Africa, parts of Asia or South America, it’s a good idea to visit a travel doctor and get all necessary travel shots for the countries you’ll be visiting. Make sure to bring all prescription medications with you. Include extras if possible and use original containers that describe the medication to avoid any hassles at borders. (And stay healthy: drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes, and choose fruit with thick skins or wash it yourself.)
Bonus Tip: Check out VeggieBucks.com to find vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurants at your destination (We’re slowly expanding internationally
Bucket List: Concerning wanderlust, one item on my bucket list is experiencing a Wanderlust Festival (preferably the Hawaii one). Comment below if you have experienced one! And comment on your international travel tips too! (I know there are a lot more than ten…)
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