There Dan Was

Smart Overseas Travel Hacks (Part 1)

John Steinbeck once wrote that “a journey is like marriage, a sure way to be wrong is to think that you control it.” 

No matter how much we prepare, each trip is volatile and its experiences are unique. That’s part of the reason why so many of us prioritize traveling over other investments.

In spite of not being able to control the outcome, we can absolutely set ourselves up to have a truly fantastic time.

If you’re about to embark on a journey overseas, here’s a guide for acing your future adventure.

Talking about prepping for an amazing trip can’t be done in just one blog post. I’ve decided to divide the content into two entries. Also, I can’t promise that the content of this post will give you a memorable trip or keep you safe – Everything is based on my previous experiences and has served me well.

Furthermore, maybe nothing here will be useful to you but hopefully something will resonate and be helpful.

Alright, lets get started.

In Bagan, after doing lots of proper trip planning 😉

General preparations:

Let’s assume you’ve already decided on where to go.

Will you need a visa before entering this country? What’s the weather going to be like during your intended dates? Will your passport be expiring within six months? Do you need any immunizations? What do you plan on doing? Once you answer these questions then you’ll be able to successfully pack proper belongings. 

My favorite sites for booking flights are Skyscanner and Momondo. Forking over a little extra for travel protection is a wise decision because serious changes in your life and the world can happen.

Do you plan on renting a motor vehicle? Applying for international driver’s permit through AAA or AATA is the only option for US citizens.

Before traveling I also make copies of my passport information, credit cards, and visas (if applicable) and also upload photos of them in cloud storage. A stashed way pen drive with these documents can be handy as an additional precaution. Notifying your bank and all credit card companies are necessary steps. A cheap Travel insurance plan is good for peace of mind. A simple first-aid kit with bandaids, Neosporin, Ibuprofen and hand sanitizer will be a savior. A local SIM card and portable power bank will also be necessary. SIM’s can be purchased at kiosks at your destination’s airport.  

How to maximize safety:

Before booking flights to a different country, first one should be aware of the political climate and actual climate before finalizing a purchase. For example, if the destination has a monsoon season or there’s a nationwide protest taking place then it’s best practice to choose someplace less turbulent.

When I first started traveling my mom made me register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a complimentary service from the Department of State and I’ve sworn by this ever since. Unless you plan on snuggling contraband, letting the government know of your travel plans is a great idea. In case of emergency, the government knows where you are and also sends you alerts in regard to potential risks in the area(s) you plan to visit. It’s a small piece of mind but goes a long way. 

If you plan on booking tours or excursions while in the country, it’s advisable to organize trustworthy sites like Viator, Expedia or Airbnb. Google searching local tour operators is a great option as well. Soliciting information on the street can have greater risks but if you trust your instinct then it’s possible to find some fantastic deals.

Street smarts while abroad:

I’ve mentioned before that money belts are awesome and I still stick by those words. In developing countries, a major goal should be to not stand out too much from regular folks on the street. In order to do this, expensive cameras, jewelry, designer-label clothing should be left at home or used with heavy caution. I always like to wear old old sneakers or clothes you wouldn’t mind throwing away or leaving behind. Small locks for your bags are useful as well.

Keeping track of your belongings at all times, not going down dark ally’s alone, and remaining aware of your surroundings at all times will help you get by without any problems.

Be wary of anyone who seems overly interested in where you’re from or what you’re doing in their city/country. Don’t accept gifts of any kind from strangers.

Food smarts while abroad:

Very exotic and delicous…but be there are always risks.

For eating, tread with caution while ordering street food, raw vegetables or fruit & local water. If you do proper research about your destination you’ll know what is good or risky to eat. Certain countries are known for their street food (Thailand, Vietnam) but even this can be a risk. As a general rule of thumb, if you see a vendor with lots of patrons (especially foreigners) then there’s a very good chance that the food is safe.

It’s best practice to order drinks cans or bottles. Food should be well cooked.

Getting around:

If you don’t feel safe using public transportation or hailing a local taxi, then read up on your destination’s rideshare services beforehand. Many countries around the world have Uber or a service that’s similar. Taxi’s come with their own risks, so if possible always have your accommodation call one in advance or have a local you trust to arrange a journey for you.

Some awesome applications to help get you from A to B while overseas are Rome2Rio, CityMaps2Go and of course Google Maps.

Finally:

Keeping loved ones frequently updated about where you’re about to visit is very important. Any easy trick would be to blog about your trip, create a Facebook/Whatsapp group, or send daily messages to the ones you care about.

***

Thank you for reading! Hopefully this information will be helpful to anyone about to plan a vacation overseas. Part two of this blog post will be arriving sometime soon, but until then I’d love to hear your thoughts…

What do you do to stay safe abroad?

How do you like to prepare for an overseas trip?

Take care,

Daniel

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