Tips and Requirements For Traveling Internationally

We modestly assert that this list is based on our own experiences, and is typically more applicable to United States residents. Also keep in mind that this list is based on the current rules and regulations at the time of this post.

1. Do you need a passport?

The first and most obvious rule of international travel, bring your passport. If you don’t yet have a passport, this process typically takes 6-8 weeks, (or 2-3 weeks if you expedite the process and pay an extra $60 fee) so plan ahead!

If you already have a passport, note that some countries require passports to be valid 6 months after your last day of travel. If it does expire within 6 months of your last day of travel, plan on renewing your passport early.

2. Do you need a Visa?

A Visa is a travel document (in addition to your passport) that some countries force you to purchase before entering or leaving their country. If you have a United States passport, you will be able to travel to most countries in Europe without a Visa, as long as you are not staying for more than 90 days. Countries within Asia, Africa, and South America have a variety of rules. Australia does require a Visa. The most common application fee is $160. You can double check to see if you need a Visa here.

3. Do you need an International Driving Permit?

Some countries “highly recommend” that you have an International Driving Permit when renting a car abroad. An International Driving Permit is a document that contains your name, photo, and driver information translated into ten languages, making life easier if you ever get pulled over.

I’ve rented a car in Ireland, France, and Iceland with just my passport and drivers license without any issues. But I do plan on purchasing this permit as it only costs $20, and you can get it at most AAA offices.

In essence, you should be ok without it, but Google the rules for the specific country you plan on traveling to.

4. Do you need vaccines?

Probably not. I’ve never had to get a specific vaccination before traveling to a country, but it’s always good to double check. You can view suggested and mandatory vaccines on a per country basis here.

5. Did you call your banks?

I usually bring my debit card and one credit card with me when traveling abroad. Be sure to call these banks to let them know of your travel plans, if you don’t, your banks may think there are fraudulent charges being made, and suspend your card.

6. Do you need to bring cash?

I don’t bring cash when departing, but I will always get local cash when I reach my destination. There will be currency exchange booths at most airports if you know you will need cash right away. But I wait and use my debit card whenever I find an ATM, as fees are significantly less than exchanging money at the airport.

Whenever possible, I will use my credit card, but I always like to have the equivalent of $60-$100 with me when traveling abroad (know the exchange rate of your currency). In most cases, credit cards will be accepted, but there will be times where having cash is necessary. Such as paying for a bus, train, or buying food/goods from a street vendor.

7. Do you have an international plan for your phone?

I like to be able to use my phone abroad just like I normally would in the states. Verizon’s TravelPass allows me to use my current plan’s data limits for an additional $10/day for most countries ($5/day for Mexico and Canada).

You definitely don’t need to have full access of your phone’s plan abroad, especially with wi-fi becoming more and more accessible. Google Maps will let you download full city maps, which can be used offline, without any wi-fi/3G/LTE.

8. What is the weather like?

This seems like an obvious question, but it can sometimes be overlooked. Searching for the average temperature/rainfall for the time you will be in the country allows you to pack appropriately.

If you have the luxury of picking and choosing a country to visit, looking at weather averages might be the deciding factor. E.g. I personally wouldn’t prefer to travel to some countries in Southeast Asia during their hot and humid months.

9. Does the country I’m traveling to speak my language?

I still kick myself when I think of the time I foolishly traveled to Rio de Janeiro without learning any Portuguese. Yes, there are translation apps and some people will speak English, but don’t be the ignorant traveler that doesn’t know how to say “hello” or “goodbye”. Learn the basics.

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