Recently, I just returned from a trip to the United States. Although I’m not a world traveler, I did learn some valuable lessons and would like to share them with you. These are my top ten tips to make overseas travel more enjoyable than mine.
These are written from my perspective, which is an American who travels to other countries. Also, it is important to note that I travel and write them from the “coach’ perspective. I have not traveled first class and can’t comment on that experience.
These are some of my lessons.
1. Airline Food. You will most likely be served before other passengers if you ask for a kosher dish. While you may receive some grumbling looks from other passengers, it will allow you to eat before the flight attendant returns to take your tray. Some airlines also offer a menu for children. It’s a good idea to have this information in case your child isn’t a fan of steam leeks. This is a lesson that I wish I knew in advance. It’s especially true when your child is eating chicken tenders, not the creamed leeks you have on their tray.
2. Claim and Recheck Baggage. I was shocked to learn that I had to claim and recheck all my baggage before I could board my connecting flight. This is a crucial point to remember. You won’t be able to add an hour to the time it takes to get to your connecting flight, and you will end up running around the airport like a fool.
3. Consider traveling light. It may be possible to speed up your departure and arrival at the airport. You can save a lot of time and effort by not having to check bags twice, as described in number 2.
4. Show me the money. Instead of exchanging local currency for your trip, you might want to make a stop at an ATM within your network once you have arrived. Larger financial institutions can get a better exchange rate that an individual can obtain.
5. Protect your documentation. Take scans of all passports and other travel documents. Save them to a USB-compatible storage device. I wore mine around my neck on a lanyard. Make sure your passport is not in the exact same place you keep yours. This is because there is a large market for stolen travel documents. It is difficult to explain how your identifications was involved in fraud on soil not from your home country.
6. Register with the U.S. to Share the Plan State Department. This will allow you to be reached in case of an emergency. Tell your family what an emergency is and when they should be contacted. Although it may seem like callus, I tell my family that unless I am able to do anything about it from home (which is unlikely), I will not tell them until I return home. This service also allows you to reach family members abroad if you have an emergency that requires assistance. Plus, it’s free. Free is something I love.
7. Are you really in good hands? Inform your medical insurance provider that you are traveling outside the country. To protect yourself while traveling, you may need riders or supplemental coverage. Independent providers can also provide quality policies that specialize in this type.
8. Reach out and be touched. You can arrange for your airlines email or text message (international cell phone required in certain cases) to contact you regarding changes in your flight arrangements. I could have saved myself many hours of worry waiting for terrorists to bomb a nearby airport during my trip.
9. Take bottled water with you when traveling. If you’re not certain about the water source, ask for bottled beverages. For more information about water consumption, see this.
10. Relax. Your fate is up to people you have never met. You can’t do anything about it, so enjoy the journey. The journey is what matters most in life.