The Ultimate Guide: What you need to know before traveling internationally

Do you feel like you’re forgetting something? Did you get the visa? Check. Did you notify your bank? Check. But could it be that you are forgetting something else? Could it be there that something that you don’t know? Wait, what about all your bills when traveling?

Traveling internationally can be overwhelming and stressful. There are so many things that you’ll have to make a checklist to prepare and gather everything that you may need before traveling abroad. One of my first (many) early travel mistakes when traveling to other countries was not checking whether I needed a visa before arrival. Fortunately, everything worked out because I went to all countries that accept visa-on-arrival. Whew, but don’t be like me. There are so many mistakes that can happen to you, and that’s part of life. But it’s also good to make good preparation to calm your heart.

In this ultimate guide, I’ll be sharing everything you should know before traveling internationally. It’s not just about flight and visa, because there are so much more than just these two. You can use this ultimate guide as a checklist! This post would also even come in handy for myself every time I leave my country.

The Ultimate Checklist: What you should know before traveling to other countries

The Ultimate Checklist: What you should know before traveling to other countries

Things to consider before buying a ticket

• Be Flexible

Maybe you’ll take a flight or will take an overland transportation, like a bus, a cruise or a train, to a neighboring country. Whether transportation you would take, being flexible with the date would generally help you save money. In this case, I’ll use taking a flight as an example.

But of course, flexibility wouldn’t be realistic for every one of you, considering that some of you may be working, enrolled in school, or taking care of your family. If you could book ahead of time, try to see if you can be flexible with the dates, don’t just aim for flying out on a Friday or Saturday.

Tues & Wed are generally

Take Skyscanner or Google Flight for examples. These two are great flight search engines to see compare the prices!

Flexibility could help you to save $20-$50 more, even $100+ more. Some days can be more expensive than others, especially on holidays or local events (such as Holi festival during February & March in India). Otherwise, if you must fly out on the weekends, it usually cost so much more. Because they know many of you would be traveling during the weekend. Cha-ching

but what if the destination that you wanted isn’t cheap?

• What season would it be like if you go?

 Many countries have their own seasons, and I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about the tourism kind. Are you thinking to go to Europe during the summer? yeah, that would be a high season. What about Asia during the summer? That would be a low season, actually. 

Wait, what the hell does that mean?

The most popular time of the year to visit. The price is higher than usual. 

Also known as peak season.

A period of the time between low and high seasons. 

A time of the year when there are fewer visitors. A major plus: the prices drops!

Also known as off-peak season.

Example #1: Visiting Thailand? Their high season is between November to January whereas it is low season between March to August since it is a rainy season during that period. 

Example #2: Visiting Germany? High season is between May to September whereas it is low season between November to March since it is snowing (beautifully) there. 

Don't forget to check if there are there! Prices tend higher at this time.

See the difference? Visiting during low seasons are generally cheaper than high seasons. This is something that you ought to know if you want to save money. Or you can just go ahead with it! 

And what if the country you want to go is still too expensive for you?

• Don’t just stick with just one country.

I know, I know. You probably have the top dream destinations that you are dying to go. I have that too. But then, that country isn’t going anywhere.

If you really cannot afford this dream destination of yours, such as Iceland or Norway, pick other dream destination that may be more realistic to fit with your schedule and within your budget. 

travel anywhere ticket

With Skyscanner & Google Flights, you can compare your top 10 dream destinations, check whether works for you. In Skyscanner, you can put “everywhere” to see a list of different destinations from lowest price.

• Have a proof of onward travel.

Unless you already purchased a roundtrip ticket, you don’t need to worry. 

It probably seems nosy if the flight attendant asks you where are you flying to after the upcoming destination, but they are not. They’re just following the protocol that some countries have: proof of onward travel.

For example, I’m flying from my home, Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan and didn’t buy a roundtrip ticket. I only have a one-way ticket to Taipei, that’s it. The flight attendant in Los Angeles would ask me what is my next destination after Taiwan, that is called onward travel. They want a proof to ensure that I would not be snitching into Taiwan or doing something illegal. If the flight attendant did not mention it, the customs officer in Taiwan will say something. Most likely they’ll not let me in unless I purchase a flight immediately upon arrival. They want to make sure that I’ll be out of Taiwan by the end of validity tourist visa period.

Taiwan is one of these countries that required proof of onward travel. Other countries include the United Kingdom, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia and more. Please find out whether the chosen destination that you want to go require onward travel, otherwise they will not let you fly to your upcoming destination and may tell you to buy a onward flight on the spot (which actually happened to me…it was bad!)

Maybe like me, you might like to travel spontaneously. I don’t want to purchase a round-trip flight or around-the-world tickets. I like to choose any country I could go to at any time, without losing any money or feeling stressed to finish exploring a country before catching the flight.

My advice is to buy an onward ticket ahead of time, but if you really don’t want that, you can also buy tickets via certain airlines (such as US airlines) that give a full refund within a day or through third parties, such as Priceline that will give you a refund within 24 hours. Always read their refund policy! Maybe they’ll charge you with cancelation fees or give back via credits or flight vouchers. Sometimes it may take a couple of days to months to get the money back.

Alternatively, you can use your airline points/miles and get it refunded back (again, do double check with them about that)

Or use budget airline (such as AirAsia or Frontier) if you are willing to sacrifice a couple of bucks – which I do not advise. Just save your money!

I would buy onward travel on the day of my flight and get a refund after (unless my flight would take more than 24 hours). Explore your options when needing to have an onward travel proof!

BUT but before you purchase the ticket, there are more things you need to check off your list, breathe in and out

everything you need to know about passport

Everything you need to know about your passport

It’s not that simple for many passport holders, and I’m not just talking about US citizens, European citizens, or Singaporean citizens (who is currently holding the most powerful passport in the world). I’m talking about every passport holder, including Nepali, Filipinx and more. Every country has its own rules and restrictions. And not every passport is a quick gateway to paradise, unfortunately.

• Have a passport ready.

If you haven’t applied for a passport, don’t wait out too long! Depending on where you are from, sometimes it takes months to process everything. And maybe for some of you, it only takes couple days. Make sure you find out about this in your country but don’t procrastinate on this. You don’t want to have a heart attack if you didn’t get it in time for your international flight.

Summer typically takes to get your passport

•Get extra passport photos.

Maybe you’ll need to apply for visa or permit for trekking. It is highly likely that they will ask you for passport photos. Don’t just get one photo for your passport, get more. It’s cheaper to purchase a package than just one passport photo. I found mine at a cheaper rate for a package at Costco Warehouse for just $5. Explore your areas to find a cheap package deal.

OR you can actually take your own photos and print it in certain dimensions that you needed. Just make sure that you follow the rules, such as having a white background, no sunglasses, no smiling, etc.

I recommend not to cutting down the extra passport photos to your country’s specific dimensions, so that way you don’t have to worry about having it too small if the other country has different dimension requirement. Let the customs officer or other authorized people in the visited country be in charge of cutting it down. You can cut it if you know the certain dimensions. For example, the passport photo dimensions in the United Kingdom (45x35mm) is different comparing to USA (51x51mm).

•Check for any errors or needing to make changes.

Do you have any drastic changes in your appearance? Have you lost so much weight that people can’t recognize you? Facial tattoos? Did you get married or divorce that caused your last name legally changed? Is your name spelled wrong?

As much as you don’t want to pay extra for passport, you’ll have to update or get a new passport. You don’t want to be denied entry for any reason and wasted all that money if issues arise when arriving in another country.

•Check for any damages.

Maybe a little smudge on your personal details on your passport isn’t a big deal to you, but many countries do see it as a big deal. You may even meet the stringent border guards or customs officers (we can’t blame them though).

Damaged passports will get people denied entry and may not use it as suitable and valid proof of your identity. People perceive “damage” differently in different degrees, including me. So how damage is “too damaged?”

damaged passport, how do i know if it is too damaged

What considered a damaged passport?

  • deformed due to water damage, your pets eating it, or your children were playing and decided to crumble it 
  • chemical or ink spillage 
  • discoloration to the bio-data page
  • missing or ripped pages (especially the photo page)
  • personal details are non-readable or hard to read
  • the chip is damaged, faulty or misplaced
  • stains or water marks

If your front cover is worn or faded, it considered acceptable. Make sure that you inquire with your local passport office to see whether your passport is considered damaged if you’re not sure. 

•The passport validity rule.

Is it expiring very soon? Is it only a month left? 4 months left? You’ll need to renew your passport very soon. Several countries have been enforcing the passport six-month validity rule. Which means you are require to have a valid passport that is set to expire at least 6 months after the final day of travel. Some other countries (like Hong Kong) want your passport to be valid one month beyond the date of your intended stay.

What countries have this?

6 months from date of departure: China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Jordan, Marshall Islands, Kenya, Thailand, Turkey, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and more

3 months after date of arrival: Panama 

3 months after scheduled departure date: Croatia, Belarus, etc. 

1 month after the date of your intended stay: Hong Kong, Macau, etc. 

 

Resources

  • Do not only relay the countries I've mentioned, because things can change. Check the legit sites to ensure for updates!

Otherwise, the countries that enforce this rule will not let you in. Such countries include Brazil, China, Vietnam, Ecuador, and more. Please make sure to check the country that you’ll be traveling to whether they require you to have 6 months validity rule.

•Count your blank pages.

Grab your passport, and check how many blank Visa pages do you have left. No, the endorsement pages do not count. But why does that matter? Because many countries do care. How many more rules and laws are there? I know, right? Things are constantly changing as time passes. Heck, I’ll even need to update this post in the future.

Different countries have a specific number of blank Visa pages required, it can be 1, 2 or 3 blank pages. Sometimes even more. Sometimes the airlines will not let you on board if they notice it. Otherwise, you’ll not know until you arrive at the destination and the customs officer may mention it and not pass through.

Blank Page(s) requirement

none or at least 1: Philippines, Poland, El Salvador, etc.

1 page: Peru, Morocco, Maldives, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Turkey, etc.

2 pages: The Bahamas, China, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Sweden, South Africa, Singapore, Belgium, Cuba, etc.

3 pages: Mozambique 

3+ pages Namibia (6 pages)

Resources

  • Do not only relay the countries I've mentioned, because things can change. Check the legit sites to ensure for updates!

Why else is it important to check your pages? Some visas are large stamps or stickers that just take up a whole damn page (ugh, right?). Another reason? You may get entry and/or exit visa stamps. All of these things just add up if you only have few pages left. 

We previously could request to add Visa pages to our passport, but that is no longer the case. If your USA passport is almost full or definitely 98% full, you will have to apply for a new passport. Don’t look at me, look at America.

Standard US Passport Standard:  28 pages total 

Large & non-standard US Passport: 52 pages total

If you are planning to travel frequently, I highly recommend getting the non-standard (XL) passport. There is actually no additional cost for getting a large passport!

If you are planning to travel frequently, I highly recommend getting passport with more pages if your country provides that option

Credits to solid-istanbul

Visa & Permit

I’m not going to explain what is a visa, because that’s another long post and it also depends on where you are from and where you are going. Instead, I’ll provide resourceful links in this post about it. 

•Find out about the visa you may need

I’ll break it down simple and quick for you what you’ll need to know – but remember, it can depends what passport you have! 

Each country has their own restrictions, including your passports. Some countries would require you to have an advance visa, or you can get visa on arrival. Shall if travelers overstay their visa, they could be fined, jailed, or deported.

This means that you can get your visa for free or for a fee once you arrive at the destination. Such countries I’ve experienced, as a U.S. passport holder, are Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Japan.

Advance visa is when you have to obtain the visa BEFORE you arrive at the destination. You cannot get visa when you arrive at the destination. If you just show up at the certain countries that requires advance visa, the customs officers will not let you in. You may face a fine, detention and immediate deportation.

Such countries that required advance visa are China, Russia, Brazil, Vietnam. There are some stories that it is a great hassle to get a visa, such as for China. However, I’ve came to learn that you can actually get pre-approval for a “visa on arrival” through your local agencies.

Another alternative that is slowly growing is called E-Visa. E-visa stands for “electronic visa,” which means that you can apply yourself online through a country’s visa website. Unfortunately, not all countries accept e- visas.

What countries have E-Visa?

India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Australia, Kenya, and more. 

  • Reminder: It depends on the country and what passport you have.

Resources

  • Do not only relay the countries I've mentioned, because things can change. Check the legit sites to ensure for updates!

I’ve personally applied E-Visa for India online, and the process was personally easy. However, I only got up to 2 months, whereas I could get 6 months or more if I applied for an Indian visa through an office.

•Check whether there is a exit visa fee

When talking about a visa, people commonly think it’s only for an entrance, but that’s not always true. Some countries also required you to have an exit visa, and you may even need to pay for that.

What countries require you to pay for exit visa?

Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Belize, Mongolia, and more.

  • Reminder: It depends on the country and what passport you have.

Resources

  • Do not only relay the countries I've mentioned, because things can change. Check the legit sites to ensure for updates!

•Find out whether you need a permit.

Or if there are certain restrictions. There are some countries that are restricted and required you to purchase a permit and/or be in a tour group and absolutely cannot travel independently. 

Are you thinking of going to North Korea, Bhutan, and Tibet in China? They are some of these countries that have these restriction. 

It doesn’t matter if you got a visa for China. You still need a special permit, called Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB), for visiting Tibet.

According to The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), you will most likely will need to obtain the permit through a Chinese travel agent. Shall if you enter in this restricted area illegally,  you could be fined, taken into custody and deported.

To learn more, check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

According to The Tourism Council of Bhutan, they have set “a non-negotiable minimum daily tariff for all visitors to Bhutan. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks.” 

You must book and travel with a local licensed tour operator, which either directly or through a foreign travel agent.

You would also need an entrance AND exit visa for Bhutan.

If you are allow to visit, you must go with a licensed tour group. If you want to go alone in a private tour, you may be accompanied with two North Korean guides. Read here if you want to know more.

I don’t know about you, but I am easily intrigued about countries that are restricted or very underrated. Just make sure you are aware about these requirements.

Preparing for your trip

• Immunization - do you need it?

There are vaccines, including routine vaccines, that are highly recommended for you to take before traveling for your own safety and others’ safety. You’ll never know what you’ll get. You may get malaria when traveling in Southeast Asia, Zika or Yellow fever when traveling in Africa, rabies if you get bitten by the animals. Anything can happen. 

There are also some countries that REQUIRE you to take vaccination prior to arrival or before departure, like Ghana in West Africa (required to take Yellow Fever vaccine before arrival). If you are traveling there or other countries that required vaccination, you have to show certification or records. If you are traveling from infested areas to non-infected areas, they’ll ask you for proof. Otherwise, you’ll run into further problems.

Check here for list of countries to find out what vaccines you may need.  

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, Yellow Fever, typhoid, Polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and more

  • Vaccines can be quite expensive, such as malaria and yellow fever. Your health insurance would most likely not cover it (maybe Hepatitis A & B though). I suggest you compare prices at different clinics, including drugstores. At Rite Aid, I found Hepatitis A at a cheaper rate, but fortunately, my health insurance covered that part. Whew.
  • Get proof of report that you took travel vaccines and routine vaccines: polio, chicken pox, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and all those childhood shots that you probably cried a lot over on and wanted to run away from the room. You’ll never know! 

 

 

 

Resource: Vaccination requirements, CDC Traveler’s health

It is recommend that you take vaccines in order to be effective

• Get Travel Insurance

The thought of spending more money isn’t ideal but get it, because you are not a superhero or process an immortality. You are not always in control of accidents or travel disasters. Anything can happen to you when you travel. This travel insurance is an investment in yourself, to not only save your life but to make it easier for you, including if your flight cancellation, luggage loss or even got your precious items stolen or lost. No matter how much you think something won’t go wrong, it is not worth the risk.

• Make copies of your documents.

Copy every document that you have! Back it up with your family & friends and make a digital copy as well which you can store in your Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive. Make a copy of your passport’s photo page, travel insurance proof, immunization report, state ID, student ID (it can come in handy if you’re eligible for discounts), medical reports, receipt of purchases (that you’ll bring it with you, such as a camera and phone) and more.

• Have the addresses on arrival ready

When arriving or leaving the destination, some customs officers may ask you for “address on arrival.” They want to know where is it that you’re staying at in case of emergency and illegal activities.

Write down or screenshot the place of the real address that you are planning to stay at, whether it may be at a family member’s, hostel, a friend’s, AirBnB, etc. If you really don’t know or can’t remember the name of it, you can take risk of picking a random place (or be honest but that would also cause further delay)

• Are you planning to drive in other country?

Although there are some countries where you can rent the car and drive with the driver’s license you have, like Costa Rica, there are some countries that will need you to have international driver’s license, known as International Drivers Permit (IDP). 

United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan,Poland, Italy, Bahamas, Armenia, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Iceland, Jordan, the Philippines, Slovenia, Spain and more. 

Resources: List of countries, do I really need it?

You may experience not having asked for your IDP in some countries, but it will come in handy if you were pulled over or have other incidents that may get your caught and fined.

You can apply for IDP at your local AAA office

• Register with your embassy or consulate.

Just in case if anything happen to you or in the country you are traveling, it is a good idea to register with your embassy or consulate. By registering with them, this will let your own government know where you. 

If you want to check whether the country you want to go is safe, you can check U.S. Travel Advisories.

If you are a U.S. citizens, you can use the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). or enroll with the U.S. embassy or consulate. 

• Double check the season of the country you are planning to visit

Just because you’re traveling during the summer doesn’t mean it is summer everywhere in the world. Comparing to USA and Australia, the seasons are different.

If you forgot that your teacher taught you, the seasons are the opposite between northern and southern hemispheres! For example, it is winter in Australia occurs during June to August whereas it is summer in the USA.

Another thing to note! It’s hot and sunny in the USA during the summer (May – September), but it is rainy and typically humid in Asia and Latin America. So always look upon the season so you know what clothes to pack appropriately for the weather!

Let's talk about money

• Apply for travel credit card(s) and/or debit card!

A non-travel credit card is known for charging ridiculously. Conversion fees, atm fees & more. Don’t bother. There are some credit cards that also charge at a ridiculous amount of fees. Personally, I have Chase Sapphire that is currently one of the best American travel-reward credit cards of all time. If you need one, sign up through here!

Use a travel debit card that will allow you to withdraw cash in low to no fees. I rather withdraw cash than keep exchanging currency and lose some money. My personal favorite is Charles Schwab. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this card. I don’t need to worry about running out of cash or often exchanging currency and lost a couple of bucks for that. With Charles Schwab, it doesn’t charge me foreign transaction fees and rebates ATM fees that were charged by random ATM banks that I go to around the world.

Do explore debit cards in your country for withdrawing cash abroad.

• Don't forget to inform your bank(s)!

Don’t forget to inform your credit card companies! Whether you have Chase or American Express, they all still want to ensure that there will be no fraud. If they think someone else in other country is trying to use your card, they’ll block it even though it is actually you. Before your trip, call them or go online, and report to them that you’ll be traveling internationally and will use this credit card. Do give them the dates of travel & what countries you’ll be going to is a good idea!

• Consider in participating in airline mileage programs.

Whether you’re traveling frequently for business, pleasure or just to visit family, participate airline milage programs. The more you use it, the more points you accumulate. Basically, it’s like a reward card when you keep buying Starbucks coffee and get a bonus. There is a lot more information than this, but you can check out The Points Guy for more.

• Do you have bills to pay?

Don’t forget about your bills! You can set it an automatic payment online! Or you can set reminders for yourself on your phone or have someone reliable and trustworthy to pay for you.

Everything relating to electronics

• Purchase an universal plug.

Not every country shares the same plug as yours. It may be different if you go to Hong Kong, USA or Italy. Like this one: 

Image copyrights to HENRY PHILLIPS of Gear Patrol.

I recommend getting all-in-one universal plug adapter + plug outlet + USB ports. Getting separate adapter is more of a hassle, why not get them all in one?

The universal plugs generally do not convert voltage, which is a whole another story. You may need voltage converter if you plan to use your hairdryer or other items that require high voltage. I don’t think it’s absolutely needed though but you can learn about here and here

• Don't overpack powerbanks & lithium batteries.

The airlines are becoming stricter about this. Each airline has their own rules of how much mAh of your power bank or lithium batteries you can have for safety reasons. Some airlines will tell you that you cannot have it in carry-on. Do look it up before taking your flight!

• Thinking to bring your drone?

Drones are the huge hype now. Some airlines also have strict rules about packing a drone.

But that is not all. Some countries have restrictions on how high up you can fly your drone in the air, which also depending upon regions. Some countries even banned drones. This means that you cannot bring a drone or you may need to obtain a permit first, whether you are using it for recreational use or commercial use (or if you are a hobbyist or a professional): get a permit which may take some time.

Sweden, Belgium, Belize, Spain, Russia, Canada, Croatia, Slovakia, Denmark. 

See information more here and here.

Nicaragua, Morocco, Fiji, Cuba, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, India, Iran, Ethiopia, etc.

See information more here. 

Always research arriving the destination!

• Think about what phone plan to use

Start planning out what cellular plan you are thinking to do. Are you thinking to include international call and text while traveling abroad? There are several phone carriers that can do that but charge at a tremendous amount for it. A well-known cellular service for an international plan is T-Mobile. I personally don’t have any experience with this, but my friend has T-mobile and was able to use data in Costa Rica and India (although the service is kinda slow).

If you are not considering T-Mobile and want to save money, you can just text your family and friends through free messaging apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. You can also make free calls like Skype or even on messaging apps, such as Facebook. If you are doing this method, continue reading on the next two things you need to know: using a sim card and turning on airplane mode.

• Use a sim card.

If you have no international data plan with your phone carrier, like T-Mobile, then this is where a sim card comes in handy. 

There are many sim cards in other countries, but you can only use the sim card if your phone is unlocked. You can ask your carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) if you can unlock your phone. I heard there’s another way to illegally unlock your phone through friends or someone you may know but that is at your own risk. If you’re not sure if your phone is unlocked, you can check with your carrier.

• Turn on airplane mode.

If you do want to pay for extra for international plan with your phone carrier, this method will let you stop using data. By turn it on, you can only can use internet via WiFi (and if you get a sim card).

By this way, you won’t be charged fees for using data abroad. Make sure to not let yourself or anyone accidentally turn airplane mode off! WiFi isn’t everywhere, such as in rural areas. So this is where sim card may come in handy.

• Download Messaging apps before leaving

There are many messaging apps that you need to know when traveling internationally. Worldwide popular messaging apps are Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp; However, Line is popular in Japan. KakaoTalk is popular in South Korea. And China only allows WeChat app.

Trust me, download it before leaving! I’ve learned my lesson on this one. I have no data international plan and turned on airplane mode on. This means data is cut off and cannot get SMS messages. If you’re planning to do this like me then, read this:

When signing up for a messaging app account, it will text you a code via SMS (data) message to verify your phone number….well, if you set it up in airplane mode and turn off the data, you may not be able to get it. Then you’re stuck and would need to ask loved ones in your home country to get the code for you immediately. So, do your research what apps you may need before leaving!

• Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Some countries banned Netflix, Facebook or other things that you’d love. VPN may help you watch it. But what about your private information? If you are paying bills online or looking at your bank account, your private information may be exposed, especially when connecting to public WiFi. This is where VPN comes to your rescue.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) may save you on this one. VPN is a “secure and private solution within the wider internet itself that allows users to send and receive data while maintaining the secrecy of a private network.”

There are many different paid VPN out there, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, PIA and more. I personally use Private Internet Access (PIA). There are some free VPN apps, such as Betternet or TunnelBear, but it has limited data. I’ve used Betternet app, and I suggest testing it out with the free ones first, and if you notice that you are using it often and exceeded the limited data, consider using the paid VPN.

Do look out for legit reviews about it, NOT on their own websites! Check out on Reddit, Facebook groups, etc.

• Inform your Video Phone carrier.

This is an unique tip for only Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans only. If you want to make video calls* from foreign countries to the USA, do inform your carrier (ZVRS, Sorseon, CONVO, etc.) before leaving the USA. You can make calls in America for any reason, such as calling family members or talking to a doctor – but you cannot call internationally, such as calling Malaysian or Japan numbers. Don’t forget to have the carrier app ready on your phone!

Bonus tips to know

• Lock up your cell phone

Whether it is for your cell phone, iPad or laptop, I use a locked home screen that includes, “If lost & found, please contact me at [insert email].”

Just in case if I’ve lost it, and there are some kind people out there that would be nice to give it back to you.

• Bring expired or invalid credit cards.

This is probably not the greatest advice. But for any reason, you were about to robbed, give up your expired or invalid credit cards. Or if it is likely that someone may steal your stuff from your backpack, leave the expired or invalid credit cards in the most obvious places (although your basic information is exposed, it’s better than getting your valid ones stolen!) Such a terrible advice, don’t you think?

• Avoid harmful sunscreens.

Do you care about ocean as much as I do? Use Biograndable sun lotion.

It is already evident that coral reefs are being killed by chemicals. Several people are swimming, snorkeling or diving with harmful sunscreens. Some countries or regions around the world are slowly enforcing this rules in order to preserve coral reefs, like Cancun, Mexico & Hawaii, USA. Some places will confiscate sunscreen that is not biodegradable.

Avoid sunscreens that use chemicals like oxybenzone, Butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and more. Oxybenzone is commonly found though. 

And that's it!

That was quite a long list to consider everything before traveling internationally, wasn’t it? Feeling overwhelmed? You’ll get the hang of it once you travel again and again. If anything, make a short list of yourself if you’re forgetful and always have things ready in one room to get things done. Take a deep breath again, and take it one at a time. Most importantly, it will be worth it once you are enjoying yourself out there.

Have you ever forgotten something?

Was this guide helpful? Is there anything that else that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts/feelings in the comment below! 

Hover the image on the left, you can repin this post if you find it helpful or beneficial for others! 

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. That’s it?! That was extensive. Great list!

    Although I have a list of places I absolutely want to see, I agree that it is best to hold off on visiting these places if the timing isn’t right.

    I don’t regret that last-minute (4 weeks before departure) decision to fly to Beijing for 2 weeks but because I booked so late, the airfare was much pricier than usual and there was the stress of getting my Chinese Visa in time, AND the required immunizations! It was a great trip, but I could have done without all that stress beforehand.

  2. I have been traveling internationally for years and agree with every single point you mentioned. Overpacking is a real thing which keeps happening to me until this day, still not sure how to manage it 🙂

  3. So much personal information is being stored and shared online nowadays that it would be irresponsible not to protect our data especially to someone always on the go, and switching from one wi-fi network to another. Many relatively cheap and excellent providers to choose from, suggesting to read a pcmag article on vpn’s!

  4. Great article, especially for travelling newbies. I just want to share that keep in mind that maybe purchasing a vpn is a good idea. I remember I was travelling in Indonesia for 6 months, so sometimes that I wouldn’t feel so isolated from my country – I would watch my favourite tv shows, and the only way I could do that is threw Netflix, which don’t work down there. So I called my brother, asked for his help and by his recommendation bought Nordvpn. I was watching Black Mirror the same day! Big recommendation from me.

  5. Thank you Stacey,
    I agree with your every single point especially the two points about being flexible and considering seasons. Being flexible helped me save a lot of money to travel to more places as the prices of flight tickets varied all the time. And you can not enjoy the places fully under bad weather conditions.
    Much personal experience and useful recommendations. Thanks for sharing us!

    1. Glad you find it very useful, even though it’s a long post! And yes, it can be difficult to enjoy if the weather is so bad. And thank you! 🙂

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