What to Know Before Traveling Internationally – 11 Must-Know Things

Planning for a trip abroad? How exciting! While it’s always fun to fantasize about the cute outfits you’ll pack and the incredible sights you’ll see on your trip, there are a few super important things to know before traveling internationally that you may not have considered. From checking for visa requirements to learning a few key phrases in the local language, here’s what you need to know before traveling Internationally!

Things To Know Before Traveling Internationally

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Make sure your passport is valid for travel

Most countries require at least 6 months of validity left on your passport, even if your trip is only a few days long. Additionally, some countries require at least 2 empty visa pages in your passport to gain entry.

check passport expiration before traveling internationally

Before traveling internationally, check the consular website for the country (or countries) you’re visiting to make sure your passport checks all the necessary boxes.

Check the visa requirements when traveling Internationally

If you’re an American, you’re in luck—there are loads of countries that’ll let you enter without a visa. Of course, there are still plenty that do require a visa, so you need to check the consular website ahead of time. 

Some countries require an e-visa, some just a visa-on-arrival, and some have even more hoops to jump through, like ones that require a visit to the local embassy. Save yourself the misery of being denied entry by making sure you know what the visa requirements are ahead of time. 

Get any necessary vaccines or medications

Nothing’s worse than getting sick on vacation, especially if you come down with something serious or even life-threatening. That’s why some countries recommend getting certain vaccines or bringing along medication like anti-malaria tablets when you visit.

know what vaccines you need before traveling internationally

Some countries even require certain vaccines in order to enter, like in places where yellow fever is prevalent. Headed to Angola? You’ll want to get a hepatitis shot. Taking a trip to Southeast Asia? Depending on what areas you’re going to, you’ll want to bring along anti-malaria tablets.

Know the baggage fees you’re up against

This is a big one, especially if you’ll fly within the country you’re headed to. While your flight from home might have the usual baggage allowances you’re used to, the same can’t be said when you’re abroad (especially if you use budget airlines). By knowing the baggage allowances ahead of time, you can pack accordingly to avoid hefty surprise fees.

What to know before traveling internationally - baggage fees

Know the weather and cultural customs before you pack

Before you start throwing your skimpiest tank tops and shorts in your bag, make sure you know both the weather and the cultural customs of where you’re headed.

For example: Thailand may make you think of white sand beaches and bikinis, but in many areas of the country women are expected to dress more conservatively. Or if you’re headed there in December, you may experience the annual cold snap, and that bikini just won’t be enough!

Make sure you can use your electronics

Depending on where in the world you’re headed, you may need to purchase adapters and/or converters before your trip. Adapters will help you plug devices into differently shaped outlets, while converters change the amount of voltage your device uses.

These days you can buy 2-in-1 adapters and converters, as well as transforming sets of adapters that have settings for every sort of outlet shape in the world.

What to Know Before Traveling Internationally: currency conversion

If you’ve traveled internationally before, you know there’s a little bit of a learning curve to remembering how your home country’s currency converts to the local currency.

What to know before traveling internationally - Currency Exchange

For example—in countries like Vietnam, the exchange rate is a doozy: $1 USD equals roughly 20 thousand Vietnamese Dong. Do your research ahead of time and try to remember a few regular increments and their conversions: like $1, $10, and $50.

...And know where you can get money when you arrive

These days, many travelers just rely on hitting up a local ATM when they arrive to withdraw cash in the local currency. And while this works for the most part, you can’t always rely on easily finding an ATM at your destination. 

What to know before traveling internationally - ATMs

Especially if you’re headed somewhere remote, do your research beforehand to figure out if you can rely on ATMs, or if you should exchange cash either in your home country or at the airport upon arrival.

...AND know what the standard rates are

Don’t be that person getting swindled in every taxi you take! While it’ll largely depend on what country you’re going to, there are untrustworthy people everywhere, and you never know if someone is going to try to rip you off for a product or service. 

So before you head out, do some light research: what does a taxi typically cost there? Or a street food meal? Is it customary to tip, and how much?

Know how you’ll use your phone

You can always opt to turn your roaming services on, but this usually comes at a pretty penny. In most countries, the cheapest option is to buy a local SIM card. And of course, some countries are safe and WiFi-friendly enough that you can get by just staying on airplane mode and connecting to service when you need it.

Or, better yet, check out Skyroam to get WiFi anywhere where you travel

SkyRoam - How To Have Wifi Wherever You Travel

What to Know Before Traveling Internationally: Learn a few key local phrases

Unless you’re going to a country that has the same official national language as yours, it’s always thoughtful and smart to learn a few key phrases. Even if you’re headed somewhere pretty touristy where people speak English, it’s a nice gesture to locals and will make people more prone to help you out when you need it.

I recommend learning at least the very basics: “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and maybe “how much?”

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