I’d like to think that in my years of travel, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Here are some travel tips and tricks, as well as links to related posts, in each of the following categories:
Here’s a post to help you save your pennies for a big trip:
If you have a credit card that charges you foreign transaction fees, get a new (or additional) one. I’ve had the United Explorer Mileage Plus Master Card for years, since I primarily fly United internationally. However, I recently upgraded from the Chase Sapphire Preferred to Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has a high annual fee but incredible travel perks. Personally, I enjoy the Priority Pass lounge access and will benefit from the free Global Entry fee when I need to renew it next year.
Check with your primary bank(s) to see if there are any branches (or partner branches) where you’re heading, and what their policies are for charging ATM fees. The two problems with ATM fees while traveling are that 1) they can rack up quickly, and 2) they make budgeting difficult. To avoid multiple fees, many people withdraw large sums of cash upon arriving in a new country, which can easily be miscounted or misplaced (not to mention, it can be unsafe to carry a lot of cash).
I recommend opening an online checking account with Charles Schwab, which offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursement from any ATM worldwide. I also recommend using an ATM at the airport upon landing and staying away from money changing stands. If you need to withdraw additional cash while traveling, try to stick to bank ATMs for safety and security.
Before you purchase any type of travel insurance, check with your credit card company to see what is covered. You might be surprised to learn that you might qualify for compensation for lost baggage, delayed/cancelled flights and more. Also, check with your health insurance company to see what is covered and where, and what the reimbursement process is (Keep in mind that in some parts of the world, an approved doctor might be quite far away, and also receipts might be handwritten or not provided at all).
If nothing else, emergency medical insurance, including evacuation, is a must when traveling internationally. InsureMyTrip.com and Squaremouth are two great websites that let you compare insurance policies, and they have excellent customer service. Both of the policies I recently purchased through InsureMyTrip.com were less than $50. Well worth the piece of mind!
I forwarded my mail to my parents during travels, which really didn’t work at all. They received about three pieces of mail, while the rest piled up at my condo and annoyed my neighbors. Another seasoned traveler recommended the services of both Earth Class Mail and TravelingMailbox, which I will definitely consider for my next long-term trip.
Here’s my go-to travel backpack:
I always travel with my iPhone, and I currently have T-Mobile service, which includes data in most countries in the world. When I had Verizon, I’d mostly use WiFi wherever it was available. That allowed me to use iMessage to text other iPhones, and make calls with FaceTime or Skype (I also would purchase Skype credits in case I need to call land lines.)
When I was at a destination for a longer period of time, I’d purchase a local SIM card, which is relatively cheap (Typically I’d buy them at the airport upon landing). One thing to remember, SIM cards can only be used with an unlocked phone, so check with your carrier if you don’t know if yours is. For short trips when I needed access to my home number for work, I’d upgrade to Verizon’s international plan for $10/day.
I typically travel with a Kindle, and my backup laptop, a Lenovo Flex, if I need to work. I previously traveled with an iPad, which I found to be really convenient for reading and watching movies. For most electronics today, you typically don’t need a voltage converter, but you will need an adapter.