International Travel Information – Top 7 Things You Need To Know Before You Go

International Travel Information – Top 7 Things You Need To Know Before You Go

Planning on going on a big trip? Have no idea where to start and what you might need to do beforehand? I’ve compiled some useful international travel information for you!

I know that even if you’ve traveled before, some things just slip your mind and it might be good to get a reminder.

And for all of you going on international vacation for the first time, there should be an answer to every question you might have. If not, shoot me a message or comment underneath and I’ll be sure to find an answer for you.

Planning The Trip

Where to?

Now this might be the easiest to answer for you, as you might have something on your bucket list that you have been saving for a long time. If not, just narrow it down according to what you would like to do on a holiday.

Do you just want to relax by the beach or do you want to do sightseeing or do you want to go hiking?

Hiking
Planning on going hiking?

Do you want to go see different cultures and experience something completely different to what you know?

Or do you want to go to several places and only stay a few days in every location?

Of course, all of this might just depend upon your budget and how long you want to get away for.

How long for?

If you only have a short amount of time, say less than 10 days, don’t plan on doing too many things as you might come back home in need of a holiday.

Of course, if you’re extremely energetic and doing a lot of things energises you, go for it. If you’re like me who needs time to relax and enjoy where ever I am, just pick one place and maybe plan some sightseeing and activities, but also plan for relaxation only.

If you have three or maybe even four weeks (or longer, lucky you!), you could look into places that are further away (traveling to places can take quite some time too, as well as getting over jet lag). You could for example travel all over Europe or around Australia and have enough time to enjoy yourself along the way.

What is the weather going to be like?

Once you know where you’re going and how long you want to stay there, look into the climate of your destination.

How warm or cold is it going to be there? Are there any significant weather situations that could occur while you’re there? And if so, maybe choose a different time of year.

For example, if you’re traveling to Australia around November to May, you could either experience hot, dry weather or hot, humid weather or wet wet wet weather.

Are you prepared for either of those options? If not, choose a different time, such as September to October, where it’s usually nice and warm and mostly dry.

perfect weather for travel
Perfect weather for travel

You can easily google the climate of your holiday destination to find out the best time for travel.

Anything else you need to be aware of?

When you’re researching your destination, also take into account seasons, such as holidays, as it could make it much more expensive to travel. Or, on the opposite, much cheaper and quieter.

If you’re choosing locations where there are some political upheavals be aware of safety announcements. You don’t want to travel into a war zone.

One way to find out about your destination is to just google the place and see if it comes up with any significant news.

Another option is to buy a travel guide. Make sure it’s current.

Another way is to ask people who have (recently) visited the place.

What will you need?

Depending on the holiday you’re planning you’re going to need special items, which you might have to take with you or might have to hire at your destination.

Are you going for a winter holiday? Are you planning on taking your gear? Or are you going to hire everything you need?

winter holiday
Winter Holiday adventures, anyone?

Google your different options before making your decision.

For the pet owners – who is going to take care of your loved pets while you’re aware? Can you organise friends and family to take turns to check on them and feed etc?

Or do you need to arrange for your pet to be in a pet hotel for the time you’re away? Make sure to arrange early on.

Documents

Passport

Before you book your flights you might have to sort your passport. Do you even have a passport? No? Well, be aware that these can take quite a while to be ready (6 weeks are pretty normal.)

Of course, many places offer quicker options, but they can be quite pricey. If your holiday is still a year away, you don’t have to worry at all.

International driver’s license

Are you planning on hiring a car? Depending on where you’re going, you might need to get an international driver’s license. They also take some time.

Visa

Do you need a visa? Many times they are easy and quick to obtain online, but in other cases it might be more complicated.

Make sure you read the fine print which will tell you how long you’re allowed to stay for. If you’re booking through a booking agency, they usually take care of visas for you. Make sure to ask.

Travel documents
Don’t forget important documents

Booking

Flights

There are plenty of websites which offer flight comparisons. If you’re flexible with your departure and return dates, it can save you quite a lot of money.

Sometimes changing the flight day from say Saturday to Thursday or Tuesday might save you a few hundred dollars.

When you’re choosing a flight be aware that sometimes it says ‘operated by’ a different airline. That’s perfectly fine, but it might mean that you won’t be able to check in online beforehand and won’t be able to choose your seats.

I’m speaking from experience here. We were not able to choose our seats before getting to the airport, which meant we were not able to choose between aisle or window, which row we would sit in and in one case, we were not even able to sit next to each other.

Also, if you require more legroom, this is also something you won’t be able to choose.

So be sure to choose a flight that is just operated by one airline.

Also, if you’re looking for cheap flights, look during the week, as prices can go up just for the weekend as more people are looking then.

Another thing to be aware of is that some places charge extra for choosing your seat in advance. If you want to sit next to your partner for example, this might be worth it; especially for a long flight.

If you don’t know which seat will be the best on a flight, there’s an online tool you can use which will show you the best seat depending on the aircraft.

If you have special needs, such as special diets or allergies, you will need to voice them when booking the flights as well.

Hotels

When looking for hotels, unless you have booked a holiday pack, where everything is included from flights to hotel to itinerary, you’re best of looking at comparison websites as well.

hotel room
Find a nice hotel to stay in

The same rule goes as for flights, if you’re flexible you might be able to save a lot of money.

During holiday season prices can jump up quite a bit too and rooms might be sold out very early on. If you’re wanting or needing to go during the holiday season, book early. Some places give early bird discounts too.

Have a look at reviews, but don’t base your decision only on those, as some people can be quite fussy and might give bad reviews when there is nothing really wrong with the place itself.

Insurances and Medications

Do you need health insurance or travel insurance?

Health insurance is something you most likely will need. You don’t want to get caught out with hefty doctors or hospital bills. I’m speaking from experience here. Luckily I had insurance otherwise it would’ve been a very expensive holiday.

If you have any special needs you might also want to plan ahead, for example, if you have diabetes, make sure you won’t run out of medication and also make sure you have a translation for your prescription to show to immigration officers.

The same goes for things like contact lenses. Make sure you’ll take plenty or have a prescription so you can purchase more.

Depending on where you’re going to, you might also need different vaccines. Make sure to leave enough time before your trip to get the cover.

Travel insurance might be worth thinking about as well, especially if you’re taking some expensive items, such as laptops or cameras.

I know that some credit card institutions offer certain insurance if you pay for the holiday, flight, hotels, etc with your credit card. Look into it, it might save you some money.

Travel itinerary

When you’re on a tight schedule, make sure you print out your itinerary as well as emailing yourself a copy of it in case you lose it.

Your itinerary should have:

– all the dates and times of flights (booking number, seat number etc),

– hotels you booked and the check in and check out times as well as the confirmation of the booking and address,

-rental car documents with address of where to pick up and drop off as well as the booking confirmation.

If you have tickets booked for special events somewhere, make sure you have a printed copy with you as well.

It might also be a good idea to take a copy of all your important documents, such as passport, driver’s license, travel documents and keep a copy somewhere safe and also email it to yourself, just in case you lose something.

It would make it much easier to replace items.

Packing And Getting Ready

What will you actually need for your holiday? That mostly depends on where you’re going, when you’re going and whom you’re going with. Have a look at my checklist for packing a suitcase.

It is advisable to get all your things ready the day before you leave. I’ve had to pack in a hurry before and forgot some important things. I’ve also tried the other way of leaving plenty of time to pack and let me tell you, it is so much more enjoyable!

If you don’t know how to pack efficiently, have a look at my tips on how to pack.

Assuming that you’ve packed most of your items into your suitcase already, there are certain things you’ll have to pack just before you leave, as you will still use them before you go, such as contact lenses, medication, etc.

Other things you will have to keep handy in an easy to access spot, such as your tickets, passports, itinerary, wallet, phone, etc. Make sure you have all the things you should be packing in your carry on.

Do you need anything to be comfortable during the flight?

Eye mask
Get some shut eye using an eye mask

What is your plan for a long flight? Try to get as much shut-eye as possible? Having a few drinks to relax into your holiday? Watching as many movies while you’re stuck in your economy seat to make the time go quicker?

I prefer to get a bit of shut-eye when I can, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes it’s easier to relax and nod off than other times. If I can’t sleep, I tend to watch lots of movies.

I even look up the in-flight entertainment before I board the flight and already choose the movies I want to watch.

When I get too tired to watch something, but still want to drown out the noise of the airplane, I find some relaxing movie. Many times I find myself nodding off then.

Other people choose to have a few relaxing drinks when they get on the flight and find they can easily get some sleep. I tend to feel dehydrated when I drink alcohol on a flight, so I usually opt for good old, plain water.

Another important hint: Make sure you only pack things you are allowed to take! You wouldn’t believe what some people try to take on a flight!

The Day Has Arrived

Make sure you give yourself as much time as possible so you don’t have to rush to the airport and then keep rushing to your terminal and keep rushing to your flight etc.

Lufthansa plane
Leaving on a jetplane

Plan for possible delays on the road, such as roadworks or even accidents.

I usually plan to be at the airport at least two or three hours before an international flight. That way you give yourself some buffer time should something go wrong on the way to the airport.

Before you leave, double check you have your most important things, such as passport, tickets, wallet with credit cards or travelers checks or money in the currencies you’ll need and your phone, as well as any medication or medical equipment you might need.

Everything else, even if it is annoying having to buy things, is usually available for purchase somewhere along the way.

If you arrive early, you will be one of the first to check in your luggage, which is always a bit of a concern, as we never know – am I over the limit, is it going to be ok? Being extra early has helped me out in the past as airlines seemed to be more lenient.

Not sure if it still works though. These days I’m always trying to be under the allowed weight. I’m still showing up early though.

Once you’ve got your luggage taken care of, you can fully relax, wander around the airport with whoever has dropped you off and have a last drink or coffee before you say goodbye or already head on to the duty-free areas and see what is on offer.

Either way, give yourself enough time so you can start your trip fully relaxed.

On The Plane

Find your seat. Usually the air hostesses assist you by pointing you in the direction. Usually the rule is that seat A is at the window and B in the middle, C the aisle and so on.

I’ve had one time when I was told in rather demeaning way that my seat (A) was an aisle seat, young lady! I was polite yet firm advising the other passengers that, no, actually, A is the window and they made room. Reluctantly.

This of course can cause some tension during the flight, especially if you’re stuck there with people for 8 hours plus! But luckily they were nice enough to see the error of their ways and we had a pleasant trip.

Another thing that could happen: bad breath of a passenger next to you. The flight can get very long if you have to tolerate it. Always carry breath mints. Take one and offer one to the person(s) next to you. And hope he or she accepts one.

Usually on long flights you get little goodie bags with a toothbrush and paste, socks, an eye mask and sometimes one of those blow up pillow. We are talking economy here. These items vary from airline to airline. Those are all things you can keep and make use of.

Things you can usually ask for are headphones, blankets, sometimes pillows too.

Make sure to stay hydrated. Because of the pressure and air conditioning you can dehydrate very quickly and this can make your jet lag worse. You can always ask for more water and even for a snack should you get too hungry.

Go for the easier choice in food. This is not the time to make wild choices. If you have special needs or allergies this is something you should’ve mentioned when booking your flight.

Go easy on the alcohol. Yes, it’s free, but you’ll most likely get drunk quicker (pressure and so on again) and end up with a hangover on top of your jet lag. Not a great combination.

As I said earlier, I tend to get dehydrated when I drink alcohol on longer flights so I choose not to drink and rather keep hydrated with water.

Also be considerate of your fellow travelers who have to tolerate your alcohol breath and possible snoring or drunk palaver.

Be courteous to other travelers as well as to your flight attendants. Everyone wants to have a good experience and a smile helps a lot sometimes.

Watch those movies, listen to music, play a game or just get some sleep. Usually the lights get dimmed when it gets late, which is usually a while after dinner and this is to encourage travelers to get some sleep.

Even if it is uncomfortable, try getting some rest.

When you’re awake, stretch and walk around. Try not to bump into other people or the flight attendants.

While Away

Enjoy your holiday! Take in the new things and don’t expect everything to be just like home. The point of getting away is to see something completely different and get out of your comfort zone a bit. Stop comparing places and just be in the moment.

Dessert
While away, indulge a little!

But, be aware of your surroundings too, don’t leave your luggage or items unattended and don’t become a victim of thieves who might lurk around busy places and might try to steal something of unsuspecting travelers.

Take your time to find your way to your hotel. There’s no need to rush. You’re on holiday, remember?

If you’re in a different time zone, try to adjust to the current time zone. This means, even if at home it is early morning, if it’s nearly nighttime at your holiday location, try to go to sleep.

And the other way around too, if it’s in the middle of the night at home, but only morning at the holiday place, stay up as long as you can. Even if it’s hard at first, it’ll make the transition easier and quicker.

I could keep writing about all the great experiences and what else to look out for while you’re away on your holiday, but this might be for another post!

I hope you enjoyed this post and got enough information to make you feel at ease and prepared for your international travel experience.

Let me know if you have any questions or leave comments below.

Happy travels!

If you would like the above post in a more concise form, you can find a downloadable and printable travel checklist just below.

31 Replies to “International Travel Information – Top 7 Things You Need To Know Before You Go”

  1. I found the post very detailed and Informative. So so many useful tips all on one page! Wonderful! I bookmarked to look further. Many travellers do not know they ought to have been preparing before time. In my own case, I get my travel box ready a week before travelling because I can’t imagine getting to my destination and discover i have forgotten valuable resources at home. We have to strive in order not to be stranded whenever we find ourselves.

    This is the type of information some so-called gurus will love to hide from public knowledge. I’m so happy I found your blog

    1. Yes, many people are not aware of some of the things I mentioned. So simple to get the best flights and hotels when you know when to look and book. 

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That’s a very detailed post about all things I need to plan on my trip. Actually, I have referred to your recommendations and think about the trip to my fiances hometown next week, I see that I missed some things. Thanks for your reminder via this post and I think it will help many people like me to think of their preparation before a trip.

  3. You’ve pretty much listed everything that anyone would need to know about international travel and I thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. And you’re exactly right about certain times of the year being much more expensive than others. That’s something that many people don’t really think about, and it’s never a good idea to run blindly into possible expenses that can blow your budget. Thanks again!

    1. You are welcome! Many times people are limited to when they can take holidays and have to go in the expensive seasons, but that doesn’t stop one from booking early on to avoid the higher fees. 

  4. Being prepared for anything in life is paramount. Not taking for granted those seemingly small details that can rise up and bite you in the tush, is very important. 

    I know how a small matter, such as a forgotten toothbrush, has made life difficult for me while traveling. 

    Although, I’m a last minute ”parker”, I try to prepare everything, I might need before the D-day. 

  5. Thanks for writing this article on things to know before going on international travel. I find this article helpful and I hope many will also find it helpful too. There are many things to know before going on a trip the list goes on and on without ending, but I always advice people to do things in accordance with the rules and regulations of the country you are going because it essential for safe trips. I will bookmark this and recommend it to friends. 

    1. The list does indeed go on and on as there are so many things you need to do before you can get on that plane. Good idea to bookmark 🙂

  6. Its very important for first time travelers to know the type of nternational travel information that they need before they start planning trips. My cousin was planning on going to Finland for the first time and if not for my timely intervention, he thought he could just up and go and then receive his visa at the airport. We did a quick online search and made calls to the embassy only to find out that he needed to apply for a visa online.

    These are very vital information for travelers like me, who tend to forget something’s a times. Would bookmark this and read it before every trip.

    1. Oh that would’ve been a bit of a problem when arriving at the airport! Luckily you intervened! Get your cousin to read this too lol

  7. Wow, what a great article! You offer so many helpful tips and advice, and it’s great to have it all in one place.

    I like the way you organized everything into sections so it’s easy to follow, and this makes a wonderful guideline for anybody who’s getting ready to take a trip. I haven’t traveled much internationally, so it was good to read your advice about visas and passports and documentation. Also, your advice about health insurance and travel insurance is really helpful.

    Your tip about taking breath mints on the plane made me laugh, but it’s actually very good advice. And I agree with you, best not to drink too much alcohol on the plane to avoid getting dehydrated. Being dehydrated, jet lagged, and hungover is not a good feeling, lol!

    Great advice too about making sure you have your itinerary with all the flight, hotel, and car rental details, etc. both printed and in email form.

    I think you covered absolutely everything. Thanks so much for sharing all this great info!

    1. You are very welcome! 

      The breath mint story is something that happened to me, unfortunately. It was on a looong flight to Taipei with a lovely Chinese lady who had the worst breath. I didn’t have breath mints with me and had to endure it for I think 14 hours at the time. In hindsight I can laugh about it too, but let me tell you when you’re in the situation it’s something you want to escape from, but just can’t! 

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. These are some really good tips… as my wife is from Mexico she says it’s important to pay attention to what the season is for weather so you are able to pack correctly (I know you covered this) but this is something to many people skip over…

    Another tip I think would be useful is instead of maybe using hotels people could use something such as AirBNB as an option because it’s something my cousin used while traveling overseas and this saved her a ton of money and she still had a great time.

    Also typically do you just need a passport or a visa? OR would a person need both?

    Thanks for the informative post and I’ll be sure to look back at it when I finally am able to travel internationally too.

    1. Yes, very important to plan ahead according to climate and weather. 

      I’ve used AirBnB in the past but have found that hotels are sometimes cheaper or offer a better deal, such as breakfast included or pick up from airport. It really depends on where you’re going and what your needs are.

      Again it really depends on where you’re planning on going. Sometimes a passport is enough, but many times you will need to apply for visa too. Unless you’re going through a booking agency then they’ll do all that for you. 

      You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by. 

  9. Hi Petra! This is a very comprehensive post – Thankyou!

    Even though I have traveled abroad alot in the past – this article is helpful for my future trips – The funny thing is – you’re absolutely right – when we travel we are on holiday – so I need to remember to respect the time as a holiday –

    I can think of numerous times where I either: can’t wait to be the first person off the plane – getting frustrated or flustered about getting my luggage – rushing to find my transfer to the hotel… Not a cool way to start the trip. I can see now how I was actually creating my holiday to be more stressful when this time was an allocated time to relax! It’s something so simple yet such an important reminder!

    When booking a 10 day trip away I agree on the importance of not doing too many things. I have often come back from the holiday needing a holiday like you mentioned. Hahahahahaaa! It’s not an ideal situation!

    Thanks for these tips – I’ve bookmarked this page as a reminder for my next international trip – it’s for business – but either way – these tips are valuable for a pleasant and relaxing trip. Thanks Petra !

    1. That’s exactly how I felt after a few holidays, completely exhausted and in need of rest because I wanted to see and do everything. 

      You are welcome and thanks for bookmarking 🙂 

  10. This was a good read to brush up on everything that needs to be considered when planning for international travel. The seven main areas that you covered had a laundry list of things in each that really will help out the traveler who may have a lot of experience or especially one that is doing such travel for the first time.

    I know that in the many years I have been out seeing the world, it can be easy to forget one or more of the points and tips that you have included. Also, things like loss of your luggage will have an impact on how the trip goes, so better to have plan B in case this happens.

    Thanks for this thorough and well-written article, it is most useful. Since I do stop by your website from time to time, I am glad that I can read through this again prior to my next trip abroad as I am shopping for all my travel needs. 

    1. Thank you very much indeed and thanks for stopping in again. I’ll be sure to add more useful information and other items 🙂

  11. Wow, thank you very much for your article, it is very useful. It is more like a travel guide book, from the initial travel planning, airfare, and hotel bookings, all of which are detailed.

     Although I don’t have to travel abroad in the near future, I want to go to places far away from home. The questions raised in your article are very constructive and can help me consider them more comprehensively.

    I will definitely bookmark your page for future reference.

  12. This is such a thorough post.  I can tell you have been there, done that.  

    The many little details you include are very helpful.  

    I think it would be a good idea to take your post and turn it into a list you can carry with you as you prepare.  That way you will be sure you remembered everything.  

    The information is not just good for international travel, but in large part for any long trip.  Sure,  you won’t need a passport if you stay in your own country, but will need many small items useful for a long time away from home.  

    I have to go on such a trip this fall, and will have to check back on your list to make sure I have everything.

  13. Thank you for all the information. I have never traveled outside the country, but it is one of the things I hope to do one of these days. A lot of the information you have here can be considered common sense, but we have learned that common sense is not always common. The excitement of traveling can often overwhelm us. Having a guide like this can be the one thing that keeps us focused on the task of getting where we want to go with minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment.
    Thanks again and I will be saving the page so I can use it when that hoped-for trip becomes reality.

  14. This was just what I needed! 

    I have been considering taking an out of country trip early next year for a while now and was super, super nervous about the idea of it. This has helped to calm my nerves about it and helped me feel that I can be prepared for it! Thanks so much! 

    I will be bookmarking this post in my browser for a refresher when it gets close to the time.

    Hannah

    1. Hi Hannah,

      You’re welcome! Yes, it can be quite nerve racking if you don’t know what to expect. That’s a great idea with the bookmarking. You could also follow the page on Facebook or Pinterest. 

  15. Thank you for all the information. I have never traveled outside the country, but it is one of the things I hope to do soon, that’s why I was looking for this information when i came across your page. 

    A lot of the information you have here can be considered common sense, but we have learned that common sense is not always common. 

    The excitement of traveling can often overwhelm us. Having a guide like this can be the one thing that keeps us focused on the task of getting where we want to go with minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment. 

    Thanks again and I will be saving the page so I can use it when that hoped-for trip becomes reality.

    1. Thank you. Yes, a lot of common sense, but as you said, when you’re excited and maybe even under time constraints due to work and other commitments, it might be easier to have some help. 

      Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Hello Petra. If i am going with company, the kind of company can determine the outcome of the whole trip (if it would be enjoyable or not). 

    Personally, i went 2 times on a trip (holiday) to Europe and because my country is in European Union (Greece) i don’t need a passport.

    The plans and the planning started like 1 month before(booking the hotels, airlines) mostly because of the price. But it will be less worrying too if you have plenty of time to think things peacefully.

    We started packing things (it was me and my sister) one week before and think quite a lot what we will need because we wanted the trip or holiday to be smooth and not a disaster.

    I can say by reading your article that it covers most(if not all) things one must consider for international travelling. Of course because repetition is the mother of all learning if i do an international trip i will be sure to visit your article to refresh my memory. 

    1. Yes, it’s much easier to plan for a holiday if it doesn’t need certain items such as passports. Much less of a headache for sure. And everything is so close in Europe. Many times you don’t even have to travel by plane, but can go by car or train. 

      Great to hear your thoughts and thanks for stopping by.

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