International Travel Tips

Read these 20 International Travel Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Travel Insurance tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What precautions should I take while traveling?

When You Return to the United States

When you come back, you'll need to declare everything you brought back that you did not take with you when you left the United States. If you are traveling by air or sea, you may be asked to fill out a Customs declaration form. This form is almost always provided by the airline or cruise ship. You will probably find it easier and faster to fill out your declaration form and clear Customs if you do the following: Keep your sales slips! As you read this tip, you'll understand why this is especially important for international travelers. Try to pack the things you'll need to declare separately. Read the signs in the Customs area. They contain helpful information about how to clear Customs. Be aware that under U.S. law, Customs inspectors are authorized to examine luggage, cargo, and travelers. Under the search authority granted to Customs by the U.S. Congress, every passenger who crosses a U.S. border may be searched. To stop the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband into our country, we need your cooperation. If you are one of the very few travelers selected for a search, you will be treated in a courteous, professional, and dignified manner.

   
What are some other general international travel tips I should know?

What You Must Declare at Customs

  • Items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return to the United States.
  • Items you received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.
  • Items you inherited.
  • Items you bought in duty-free shops or on the ship or plane.
  • Repairs or alterations to any items you took abroad and then brought back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
  • Items you brought home for someone else.
  • Items you intend to sell or use in your business.
  • Items you acquired (whether purchased or received as gifts) in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, or in a Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act country please see section on $600 exemption for a list of these countries) that are not in your possession when you return. In other words, if you acquired things in any of these island nations and asked the merchant to send them to you, you must still declare them when you go through Customs. (This differs from the usual procedure for mailed items, which is discussed in the section on Sending Goo

   
Where can I find a good currency converter?

Miscellaneous Travel Tips

Before you take a trip, remember this helpful travel advice:

  • Always remember that you are a guest in another's country.
  • Obey all laws of the country you are in - no drugs - no smuggling.
  • Baggage:
    • Most airlines allow two bags (max. 70 pounds each some size restrictions apply) for direct travel to and from the USA.
    • Check bags to your final destination.
    • Know what you are hand carrying for someone else.
  • Cash
    • Many countries require that you declare all of the cash (sometimes traveler checks as well) which you are bringing into the country.
    • Count your cash before leaving in an inconspicuous location.
    • Keep your currency forms with you.
    • Never discuss financial matters in public.
  • Travel Documents
    • Check all travel documents before leaving to ensure that they are valid for the duration of your trip, including extensions.
  • Airline Tickets
    • Check your airline tickets to ensure that routing is as planned and that you know all of your stops.
  • Packing Hints
    • The clothing you pack should always be appropriate for the climate and activities on your itinerary. The normal

   
What are some travel warnings I should know about?

Before Departure and At The Airport

  • Count your cash before leaving in an inconspicuous location.
  • Get export papers from US Customs for computers, video cameras, etc. to make US Customs clearance easier when you return.
  • Check in early and go through security immediately.
  • Stay away from windows, trash bins, etc.
  • Never agree to watch someone's luggage.
  • Report unattended bags and packages.
  • Note the location of exits.
  • Move away from disturbances.
  • Take care of personal needs before boarding since long delays and waits are common.

   
What are some other general international travel tips I should know?

Register Items Before You Leave the United States

If your laptop computer was made in Japan - for instance - you might have to pay duty on it each time you bring it back into the United States, unless you could prove that you owned it before you left on your trip. Documents that fully describe the item - for example, sales receipts, insurance policies, or jeweler's appraisals - are acceptable forms of proof. To make things easier, you can register certain items with Customs before you depart - including watches, cameras, laptop computers, firearms, and tape recorders - as long as they have serial numbers or other unique, permanent markings. Take the items to the nearest Customs Office and request a Certificate of Registration (Customs Form 4457). It shows Customs that you had the items with you before leaving the U.S. and all items listed on it will be allowed duty-free entry. Customs inspectors must see the item you are registering in order to certify the certificate of registration. You can register items with Customs at the international airport from which you're departing. Keep the certificate for future trips.

   
What are some other general international travel tips I should know?

When Traveling About

  • Always stay sober, alert and inconspicuous.
  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep phone numbers of local contacts with you.
  • Keep your money out of sight - never count it in public.
  • Find out where the "wrong" parts of town are and stay away.
  • Find out the location of the police stations and get phone numbers.
  • Avoid disturbances - go the other way, immediately.
  • Learn to operate the telephones the first day.
  • Always carry your passport, leave copy in security box -- unless local customs require otherwise.
  • Don't stop to investigate accidents.
  • If accosted try to stay calm, watch for escape.
  • If being followed go directly to the police, hotel, or office.

   
How can an ATM help you during your travels?

The ABCs Of ATMs

The invention of ATMs has made traveling a lot easier & safer. For one thing you don't have to bring a ton of cash with you anymore. Since ATMs exist in most parts of the world you can just take out money when you get to the country. Not only will the ATM accept your cash card, but it will also give you money in their native currency. It exchanges it for you. So no more wasted time at the money exchange center. Though, as a travel precaution, before you go you might want to do some research on currency values on that specific country. This way you won't accidentally empty your life savings just to buy an ice cream cone.

   
What should you get for a child that will be flying?

Traveling Is Child's Play

We've all heard the stories. Some of us have been unlucky enough to experience it. Being trapped on a 5 plus hour flight with a child who is way too bored. It's not a pretty picture. They complain. Cry and keeping asking when they will be on the ground. If you know you will be traveling with a child you should take this into account in your travel preparations. The best thing to do is make sure they're occupied from take off to landing. Today there are all kinds of electronic diversion toys like mini-game consoles or teeny tiny DVD players. However, keep in mind there are times when these devices need to be turned off so bring along some low tech toys like a puzzle magazine or a book. For a list of acceptable electronic devices check the website of the airline you will be flying.

   
What are some other general international travel tips I should know?

Travel Recommendations - Arrival At Destination

  • Reconfirm your future flights - local office may be able to assist.
  • Exchange a small amount of US dollars for local currency at the airport for taxi, tips, etc. You will usually get a better exchange rate at a bank.
  • Know who will meet you and ask them to be inconspicuous.
  • Register with consulate if staying several days.
  • Know your route from airport to lodging.
  • Request room above ground floor but not too high.
  • Check for exits and emergency instructions.
  • Plan your escape in case of fire.
  • Be sure your phone works -- call the desk.
  • Check the door locks - use doorstop if necessary.
  • Don't leave your key at the desk.
  • Always put valuables in the security boxes.

   
What are some other general international travel tips I should know?

Language Translation Software

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How can you fight germs in 3rd world nations?

Good Help Against Bad Germs

When going to a less developed nation be prepared for more of a problem with dirt. Not just the brown clumpy kind, but the microscopic “carrying disease” kind. For this reason you should think about packing germ fighters like ant-bacterial soaps and hand washes. Plus, it would probably be a good idea to add a few roles of toilet paper to your travel packing checklist. Again, to be more informed you should do some research on the internet. See what type of disease or sanitary problems are native to the country. Then you will really know how you can guard against it.

   
What should I do after I arrive at a destination?

When Driving

  • Drive defensively - not aggressively.
  • Always keep windows up and doors locked.
  • Keep valuables and belongings out of sight.
  • Know your route, plan it ahead of time, and vary your routes.
  • Be suspicious of "accidents".
  • If attacked try to crouch down and drive away.
  • Keep the gas tank full at all times.
  • Watch for tampering with your auto - easier to spot on a dirty auto.
  • Avoid driving or renting expensive automobiles.

   
Should you buy luggage with wheels?

To Wheel Or Not To Wheel

Luggage has gone through a lot of changes since the days of those army colored sacks or those metallic pods with handles. Baggage today comes in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. However, possibly the greatest addition to bags has been wheels. They make it much easier to lug around international terminals. Especially when you're doing that mad "transferring to a plane" dash. Though, before you go for a wheelie based bag think destination. If you are going to a major city then you will be probably dealing with a lot of smooth paved sidewalks. This is optimal for wheels. Then again, if you are going on an expedition through an uncharted rain forest & dirt roads you might want to opt for a backpack type design. Of course there are people that actually do both city and wilderness on their vacation. Fortunately, there are a number of backpack wheelie combo bags that would do the trick for that type of trek.

   
Why would you take a long distance taxi?

Better Than A Bus

Once you arrive at your international destination that is probably the last time you will be taking a plane. That is until your return trip. Most of your traveling to other international destinations will either be done by public transportation like a bus or train. You can rent a car. However, if this isn't in your budget, but you still want the convenience of leaving at anytime take a long distance taxi. They are usually double the price of a bus ticket and you are usually traveling with a few extra people -- Depending on your party. Long distance taxis can be found at taxi stands. You can also have your hotel call one for you as well. Another benefit of long distance taxis is time. Since they don't have to go to a set drop off route (like a bus) they can get you to your destination much faster.

   
Should you rent a car when you are on vacation?

Cab Over Car

Cars give us freedom to come and go as we please. When you own a four-wheel companion you are not chained to the public transportation schedule like some city folk. However, when traveling internationally renting a car might present problems. First, there are all kinds of fees other than just the basic rental cost. There's insurance. Taxes. Fuel. And of course parking. Then you have to deal with driving in another country, which can be a hair-raising experience in itself. Especially, if you are not used to driving on the opposite side of the road. So to save money and give yourself a little piece of mind you might want to consider the cab over a car. In most world cities it is relativity easy to hail a taxi. However, if you are in a third world nation you might want to have the hotel do it for you. Drivers associated with a hotels tend to be more reputable than ones you find on the street.

   
Why would you need to buy a map?

For The Directionally Challenged

Before going off to some far off international location most people reach right for a travel guide. Which is actually a smart thing. It gives people a sense of what's going on in that area before they get there. Restaurants. Sites. Shops. However, along with a guidebook another valuable prep tool is a map. This directional guide can help you get a layout of the land. Plus, it can be useful when creating daily itineraries. When buying a map look for one that you can use when you are on the trip as well. Good maps are ones that have the least folds (sorta like an accordion style.) Plus, it's good to find ones that are laminated. So you can get perfect directions even during less than perfect weather.

   
What can you do for airsickness?

Sick Of Flying

Flying and some people just don't mix. The minute that plane takes off, their airsickness gets turned on. Airsickness is a person's reaction to air pressure and movements of an airplane. Usually the most common symptoms of this affliction are nausea and even cold sweats. Today people have all kinds of air sickness drugs available to them. Some over-the-counter and some a doctor needs to prescribe. However, before you pop one of these miracle marvels you should take a couple of factors into account. - If you are pregnant you may have a bad reactions to some drugs so check with your doctor first. - Never combine airsickness drugs with alcohol or other tranquilizers. - If you are giving a child airsickness medication make sure they are getting the proper dosage. Unfortunately, even the people with the most iron of stomachs get sick in the air. So if you find you're getting the case of queasiness and didn't include medication in your travel packing checklist there are other options. Try eating dry crackers or drinking a carbonated beverage.

   
How can you check your email in another country?

Connect Over Coffee

Sometimes as Americans we feel like our internet access works only in our country. Outside of our world it is a totally different animal. One that is not compatible with ours. This couldn't be more further from the truth. Cyber cafés aren't just a USA concept. They exist all over the world. For this reason if you are traveling for pleasure, but want to stay connected you shouldn't have to lug around your laptop. The last thing you want to do is pack up something extra and expensive if you don't need to. It's a foreign travel recommendation that makes sense and can save you dollars. If you feel the need to catch up on your e-life stop by an internet café. In most cases they don't charge too much for internet access. In fact, you'd probably wind up paying way more if you used your own modem plugged into a hotel phone line.

   
Why should you wear sweats on an airplane?

Don't Sweat The Trip

Traveling to foreign countries isn't like sitting on some 1 hour long commuter flight. You will be logging in some serious air hours. One smart international travel tip is dressing comfortably. Think about clothing that will keep you comfortable. Sweats are always a good idea in this situation. Sweat pants & shirts are extremely loose fitting. So they won't feel constrictive after 3 hours into the flight. They also are loose enough that you can wear a t-shirt or shorts underneath. So if the destination you are going to is much warmer you can simply remove the sweats, so you won't be sweating after you leave the plane.

   
What rules should I be aware of before departure and at the airport?

World Currency Converter

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