If you are like many college students out there, traveling with StudentCity may be your first opportunity for international travel. Lucky for you, we’ve got some experience in international travel! We have narrowed it down to 6 essential things to note before taking off for your international travel journey!
1.) Get a Passport
First things first, make sure you get your passport in order at least 2-3 month prior to your trip. Why? Because the process of getting your passport can be quiet daunting. Click here to visit the U.S. Department of State website to see how to apply for a passport.
INSIDER TIP: Don’t make the same mistake I did by letting the guy at Walgreens take your picture; it is pretty much guaranteed to come out looking like a serial killer or a cockatoo … You can take your photo on your own as long as it meets the requirements listed here.
2.) Bring a Carry-On, Not a Checked Bag
This will save you a lot of headache. Checking a bag when traveling internationally is going to take a lot longer to get through customs and cost more. Plus, if you use a carry-on you eliminate the risk of the airline losing your checked bag in transit. Traveling with a carry-on is the move.
INSIDER TIP: Roll everything up, just like a burrito! You will fit way more clothes into your bag this way, trust me!
3.) International Phone Plans vs. WiFi
Sometimes it’s nice to unplug for a while, but if you cannot go a day without clearing your Snapchat stories, here is the skinny on phone plans vs resort WiFi. Most phone services have international plans for a fairly responsible price, depending on the country you are traveling to. For example, Verizon’s international plan for Mexico is $2/day per device. However, you can always connect to the WiFi at the resort. Depending on the resort, the WiFi may be an additional cost but be sure to check with the hotel prior to your trip.
INSIDER TIP: If you go the WiFi route, be sure to ask for the WiFi wherever you go. Most bars and restaurants have WiFi you can connect to while you are there.
4.) Bring a Pen in Your Carry-On
Seems like a strange thing to bring? You’ll thank us when you are not stuck at the end of the customs line. Towards the end of your flight, you will be given a form to fill out; this is a customs form. Basically you claim yourself as a US citizen and whatever crazy stuff you may have in your bag (booze, food, soil? You know normal things like that). Once you land, all you have to do is turn that form over at customs and you’re golden.
INSIDER TIP: Fill the customs form out on the plane and make your way to customs as quickly as possible. Being stuck at the end of the line can add substantial wait times.
5.) Know the Currency Exchange Rate
Knowing the exchange rate before you go is always helpful. You lessen the risk of getting ripped off when paying in U.S. dollars and receiving change in local currency. Visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website to find the currency exchange rate for wherever you are going.
INSIDER TIP: Take cash with you, but do not forget to call your bank and credit card providers to let them know you are going out of the country so they do not put a hold on your account for “suspicious activity”.
6.) Know Enough of the Local Language to Get By
Whenever you are going to a country who’s native language is not English, take the time to learn the most basic phrases before your trip. Simple terms such as “hello”, “goodbye”, “please”, “thank you”, “bathroom”, and “beer” will help immensely when communicating with the locals.
INSIDER TIP: You may not nail the local language, but locals appreciate the effort. If you try and fail, just start using your hands to point at things and hope for the best.
Safe Travels My Friends!