- Alert your bank that you are going to be in certain countries at certain times. However, if you go to a country that is on the OFAC list (Office of Foreign Assets Control) the bank will not be able to put alerts. This should be done to your debit card (in case you need cash) and your credit card (for purchases). If your card DOES stop working, call the International collect number on the back of your card.
- If you’re going to be spending large sums of money or traveling for a while, it may be worth getting a credit card that waives the 3% foreign transaction fee that banks typically charge for purchases outside the United States. These cards typically come with an annual fee around $60-$95, so make sure it’s worth getting. Do a little math to figure it out. For example, if you’re going to be spending $3,000 on purchases, then you would save $90. It’s worth getting the card at that point. Some credit cards even waive the annual fee for the first year, so do your research!
- Get foreign currency from your local bank. The exchange is going to be the cheapest compared to the airport or at your destination in most cases. Prepare a little bit before going, you’re going to need cash for shopping at markets and bartering with sellers. The United States has adopted a “card culture”, which isn’t always the case overseas. CASH IS KING!
- MAKE SURE YOUR PASSPORT IS VALID FOR 6 MONTHS past the date you plan to travel. This sounds silly but some countries will actually block you from getting a VISA if you DO NOT have AT LEAST 6 months left of validity on your passport. It’s not worth it, just do it.
- I was a BIG FAN of carrying my money in a “flat fanny pack” that fit under my shirt. Pick pocketing is very common and travelers are DEFINITELY a target. We stink out like sore thumbs overseas and are often targeted first. They can be bought at almost ANY travel store or online.
- SCREENSHOTS! SCREENSHOTS! SCREENSHOTS! I was a HUGE FAN of taking and using my screenshots. I screenshot EVERYTHING from directions to places I want to go when I don’t have wifi to my hostel so the cab driver knew where to drop me off from the airport when I didn’t speak the local language. If you travel like me, you don’t have a sim card for every country you’re going to and you’re a slave to wifi. McDonalds, tourism offices and MOST restaurants offer FREE WIFI and I suggest taking advantage when you can! My favorite screen shots include: train/bus routes; accommodations/reservation numbers; hiking trails and how to get there using public transportation; when meeting new people and I don’t have wifi, simply type in their name in Facebook or Instagram OFFLINE and friend or follow them when you get wifi; Go Pro photos I just took to post to social media; getting a picture out of a video you took (mine was a killer whale family in Alaska, I couldn’t get the timing right when the fins came up against the mountainous backdrop so I took a video and took a screenshot of it and it worked PERFECT!; Common phrases in the local language; inspiring quotes for when traveling gets lonely, because it does!
- “Gold Star” things on your Google account, I’ll explain. When you search for a place on Google maps it will allow you to “save” the place. You have to have wifi or service but it will put a “gold star” on that place and it is SO MUCH EASIER to find when you’re lost. And you’re going to get lost MANY TIMES on your travels. While using this feature, use your location. If your phone is on airplane mode (which it should be RIGHT AFTER you get on plane) you won’t get charged for using international data. The location will be a little blue dot with an arrow. This allows you to “direct” yourself to your star/destination using your GPS on your phone. It uses a lot of battery, so do it when you absolutely need too. Battery life is so precious while traveling without a place to charge it or walking around for 8 hours around a new city/village/town.
- MAKE SURE YOUR PHONE IS IN AIRPLANE MODE! I use Verizon and didn’t get charged for ANY international data while using just my GPS while in airplane mode for my 9 months of travel on this trip. Your phone should be put in airplane mode RIGHT AFTER you board the plane and BEFORE you take off. I’ve had stupid things happen like my phone was “updating an app” while I was overseas and cost me a pretty penny. Lesson learned and I’ve never been charged since. Also, airplane mode deactivates certain features and often keeps your phone’s battery from slowly draining throughout the day, doing what smart phones do.
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