I have always wanted to travel internationally, but I never took the opportunity to do so until last week when I went to the Dominican Republic to pick up my daughter from her LDS Church mission. She had been serving for 18 months and I hadn’t seen her in all that time, so I thought I would take the opportunity to visit a foreign country and have her show me around. I was really nervous traveling internationally for the first time. It all went fairly well, but here are 7 tips for international travel that I learned:
#1. Get your passport early. If you don’t already have one, plan ahead to get one. It can take between 6-8 weeks to receive your passport. There is an option to expedite it for about $100 more and you will receive it in about 2 weeks. But plan accordingly so you will be sure and have it for your trip.
(Hotel in Mao, Dominican Republic)
#2. Make a copies of your passport. Leave one at home with a family member and then put another copy in a different bag than the one you carry your actual passport in. The copies will come in handy if you happen to lose yours.
#3. Visit the US government travel website ahead of time to discover what kinds of Visa’s, vaccinations and restrictions are placed on the country you are visiting.
(We found fruit stands and trucks on every corner. This truck belonged to some friends of my daughter)
#4. Give yourself a long layover in between flights when re-entering the US. If you need to catch another flight after entering the US give yourself at least 3 hours between flights to make sure you can catch your plane. Remember you have to go through customs AND then go through security AGAIN! I did not realize this and we came SO close to missing our flight. Boy, was that stressful. The security line is what got us and we barely made in on our flight by seconds.
#5. Declare everything you bought and are bringing home while on your trip. Customs wants to know what you are bringing into the country. You want to declare everything because if they do search and find something you didn’t declare that is a BIG mess. Remember no fresh fruit, vegetables, meats etc.
#6. Let your credit card company and bank know that you will be traveling and where and when. This way they know you will be using your card in another country and they will not put a block on it. You don’t want to find yourself far from home not being able to access money.
#7. Embrace the culture you will be visiting. Remember, the way they live is normal to them. Learn about their culture and learn to appreciate it. I met so many wonderful and giving people on my trip. That is what made it truly special for me was meeting the people and being introduced to their culture.
International travel is fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful. You are away from your normal way of living and things are different. These tips hopefully will help to take some of the stress away and make your trip more enjoyable.