- If you’re taking a credit card, make sure you choose one that has NO fees for international use. I recommend the Southwest Credit Card — it has great rewards points that have helped us earn several free flights.
- Let your bank know where you’ll be and when you’ll be gone. The worst thing is to have your card locked when you’re trying to use it on a trip.
- Getting cash in the currency you need from your local bank is usually a better exchange rate than getting the money in airports or hotels, and you can always have your bank exchange the money back if you have any left when you return home. If you have to get cash while you’re out of the country, ATMs typically have better exchange rates than hotels.
- Try to pack light enough for a carry-on, but if you can’t, put at least ONE outfit and essential toiletries in your carry-on. Luggage CAN get lost … we’ve been lucky enough to only have luggage lost on our way home, but we met a couple on our honeymoon that didn’t have theirs and it was awful.
- Comfortable headphones for the plane … If your plane has movies/TV, the headphones they provide are uncomfortable and hard to hear your entertainment.
- Obviously, pack your passport, but either hide a photo copy of it in your luggage or provide a copy to someone at home who can easily email it to you in an emergency.
- Make sure to research the plugs and voltage of the country you are visiting. Most hotels will have at least one U.S. plug, but it doesn’t hurt to have an extra adapter/converter — especially for hair-styling tools because you can ruin them. (I know someone who burnt their hair off trying to curl it in Europe without an adapter.)
- Screenshot any important emails, documents, directions, etc. that you might need on your trip just in case there isn’t WiFi. Most places have WiFi nowadays, but a portable WiFi device saved us when driving in Costa Rica. It allowed us to use Google Maps — I can’t imagine trying to ask for directions or follow all the road signs in Spanish.
- As far as packing goes, my rule is pack what you want to take, and then take out half. Even when you take out half, you still are going to end up taking too much.
By Lauren Satterfield Roberts
Lauren Satterfield Roberts writes a travel blog called “5 Star Taste, Hostel Budget.”