Tips for first-time international travelers

November 19, 2014 |

If you’ve never traveled outside the U.S., it’s inevitable that you’re going to encounter certain differences that range from subtle to extreme during the trip. Leaving the country for the first time can be an intimidating and challenging ordeal for some, especially if you’re unprepared. From the initial passport screening to realizing that Europeans eat their fries with mayonnaise, if you’re about to depart for international travel, here a few a tips and suggestions that might help make your trip go more smoothly:

Never lose your passport
First and foremost, you should always make sure you have all the appropriate documents when both traveling to and from the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of State, all people, including U.S. citizens, need to present evidence of their U.S. citizenship and identity upon reentry into the country. The same can be said for most other countries around the world, and if you ever lose or misplace your passport overseas, here are four steps you need to take, or else you will not be granted access back into the U.S.:

  • Immediately file a police report
  • Contact the closest U.S. Embassy and schedule an appointment as soon as you can
  • Apply for the passport in-person
  • Wait patiently, as it usually takes 24 hours to receive a new U.S. passport

To help avoid ever having to face this unfortunate scenario, it’s highly recommended to make copies of your passport before departing.

It’s advised to always make photocopies of your passport and identification card while traveling abroad.

Familiarize with finances
While this may seem obvious, an often overlooked component to traveling overseas is not taking into account the currency exchange. Make sure you do the math on your budget before departure, and research the conversion ratio of the currency in the country you’re visiting. It’s also important to remember that your credit or debit card may not work in all countries. Check with your bank provider before to see whether or not your card will be accepted, and while traveler’s checks are slowly becoming extinct, depositing money into a prepaid universal debit card is usually a good rule of the thumb to overcoming any currency troubles. Also, it’s extremely urgent that you notify your bank or credit card company that you’re intending on traveling abroad. If you fail to do so and they see that charges are coming from another country, they will most likely temporarily shut off access to your card until the situation is resolved.

Eccentric electronics
Another common dynamic routinely forgotten about during global travel are the electronic differences in countries overseas. Many countries have different sized electrical outlets, meaning that if you’re looking to charge your phone, you need to have a charger adapter to give it some juice. Other countries tend to have different voltage levels, so it’s important to be aware that some of your electronic appliances may not function without adapters.

Be patient
The old adage that “patience is a virtue” is never more true than when it’s applied to traveling overseas. This can be applied with everything from waiting in line at customs in the airport to simply ordering from a restaurant in another language. The fact of the matter is that you’re going to have to be a tad more forbearing when visiting another country, and understanding this beforehand can help ease any stress you come across during your trip.

Using the eTTek Dash mobile app can help you overcome certain cultural or language obstacles when visiting another country.

Do your homework
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when traveling overseas for the first time is failing to adequately research your upcoming destination. Learning a few simple phrases in the local language can result in a huge advantage during your travels, and understanding the various customs and traditions may also help you avoid any uncomfortable situations. You should also study the public transportation systems available in that country, so you can save yourself some money during your vacation. Downloading the eTTek Dash mobile application from Travel and Transport can help business travelers experience a more pleasant arrival, with advantages ranging from travel alerts to seating information to currency conversion. If you ever find yourself in an urgent situation, the eTTek Dash app can also connect you to an experienced Travel and Transport travel counselor who can help answer any unforeseen questions that may arise during your trip.