16 Things Never to Forget When Traveling Overseas
When you pack these international travel essentials, you may still look like a tourist—but you certainly won’t act like one.
Being prepared makes all the difference
Whether you’ve planned a whirlwind one-week sightseeing extravaganza through Europe or a month-long island-hopping adventure around Asia, you’ve likely spent many hours researching transportation, lodging, tours, restaurants, and attractions. Now that you’ve captured every last detail of your itinerary, all that’s left to do is hop on the plane and head overseas, right? Not so fast—what about packing? Overseas travels require special consideration. If you haven’t traveled internationally before, or it’s been many years since you made the trek abroad, then you could easily be overlooking items that seasoned travelers would never leave home without. Find out the 11 suitcase packing mistakes that could ruin your vacation.
VPN for Wi-Fi Security
Unless you have an unlimited international data plan on your smartphone, you’re probably going to be on the lookout for cafés and hotels that offer free Wi-Fi. While it may seem like the best invention since sliced bread, public Wi-Fi is actually a dangerous practice. “Travelers are taking risks every time they connect their devices to public Wi-Fi hotspots, because these networks can easily be hacked in minutes, giving the someone access to all your online activity, possibly even passwords or financial information,” says Harold Li, vice president at ExpressVPN, a company that provides security by ensuring all your Internet traffic is encrypted. “For travelers to countries with censored Internet access—including China, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Turkey—VPNs also help you stay connected to blocked sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, and even the New York Times.”
Credit card with no foreign transaction fee
Sure, you can take any ‘ol credit card overseas, but choosing one without foreign transaction fees will definitely increase your budget for souvenirs. “Many travelers end up using a credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee on every purchase overseas, which is typically around 3 percent,” says NerdWallet’s credit cards expert, Kimberly Palmer. “That can really add up and give you a nasty surprise when you get home from vacation.” She also recommends looking at premium travel cards for hotel upgrades, too. Here are more travel fees that smart travelers avoid.
Even after your long-haul flight is over, it’s wise to keep your trusty pair of headphones nearby to block out crying babies, loud conversations and stressful traffic noises, especially if you’re going to be taking trains or buses between various cities and countries. You can use the travel time to immerse yourself in a movie on your tablet, listen to a podcast about the city you are heading to, or relax with a guided meditation. Oomo 3D 5.1 Immersive Earbuds deliver movie theater-like surround sound, thanks to its five-channel acoustic structure that separates sound frequencies.
If you aren’t staying in the same hotel throughout the duration of your trip, you’re likely to be living out of your suitcase the entire time—it’s just too time-consuming to unpack and repack everything when you’re moving between destinations every few days. Plus, many foreign hotels simply don’t furnish their rooms with dressers or wardrobes like in the United States. Enter packing cubes: Weighing in at just 10.8 ounces, eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes will help keep your suitcase organized, so you know within seconds where to find your underwear versus your t-shirts. Plus, they will compress all your clothes so you won’t struggle to close your suitcase when it’s time to head to the next city.
Waterproof phone case
Whether you’re on a guided tour of all the major sights in Rome or snorkeling off the coast of Thailand, it’s typical to rely on your smart phone’s camera for awesome pictures. But we all know that water is a cell phone’s mortal enemy—so what happens when you’re stuck in a surprise rain shower while photographing the Colosseum or need proof that you saw a rare Leopard shark in its natural habitat? Well, if you have the Joto Universal Waterproof Case, you’ll be able to snap Instagram-worthy shots without any fear of water ruining your phone. The dry bag fits most smartphones and the plastic window on both sides allows you to take crystal clear pictures. Be sure to check out the ultimate travel checklist to have everything you need for your next trip.
Getting 40 winks on your overseas flight can mean the difference between arriving in a new country bright-eyed and bushy-tailed or looking and acting like a wild animal. Be sure to pack a chin-supporting neck pillow, like the BCOZZY, which is a flexible, ergonomic neck pillow offering a unique structure that provides peripheral support to the head, neck, and chin in an upright sitting position. Fall asleep easily anywhere you sit (including a train or bus) and wake up without a sore neck—it’s adjustable so you can customize it to fit your personal comfort and support just the way you like it. If you haven’t had any luck sleeping on a plane before, check out these 14 secrets from seasoned travelers.
Being able to speak even a few words in the local language while traveling can go a long way toward enhancing your experience. “I learn how to say hello, thank you, and please in the language before I visit a different country,” says Kiersten Likkel, cruise consultant, Cruise Specialists. “If you want to connect with people, making even the smallest effort to speak their language is always a barrier-breaker.” Available in 14 languages, from Spanish to Indonesian, the Babbel app will get you talking no matter your level—beginner, moderate, or advanced. Not only can you practice your language skills and work on your accent from the first lesson, but the content you learn can easily be applied to real-life situations, leaving you feeling at home around the world. While you’re at it, take the time to learn these 12 local customs so you don’t accidentally offend your new friends.
In some countries, electricity can be a bit iffy. Bringing your own surge protector will help protect your devices from getting fried during an electrical surge. Choosing one that offers three grounded outlets plus two USB ports, such as the Belkin SurgePlus USB Swivel Surge Protector and Charger, allows you to safely charge multiple devices simultaneously. Considering how few outlets most hotel rooms have, or how awkwardly they are usually placed, you’ll be grateful not having to choose between charging your cell phone before a full day of sightseeing and drying your hair.
Your surge protector will likely need a little help to fit into the socket of your international hotel room—and that’s where an adapter comes into play. Different regions of the world use different plug shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to choose the correct one for the country you’re visiting. For example, most of Europe uses one type, but Italy and Switzerland each use something different. Ceptics offers separate options for each region of the world, or you can choose their universal adapter if you’re going to be traveling extensively and only want to carry one product. Make sure to avoid these travel mistakes to have the best vacation ever.