Although Jesus instructed his disciples to travel light (Mark 6:8-9), he warned them to be prepared for challenges (Mark 6:10-11, Matthew 10:16)…and gave them power and authority to do the work they were called to do (Luke 9:1-3). I don’t claim to be an expert on travel tips, but I have picked up quite a few ideas from my years as an international traveler. This list is neither complete nor comprehensive but may save some of our readers some headaches related to international travel.
1. Make copies
Before you leave, scan the front and back of every item in your wallet plus your passport. Print a copy and keep it in your home and send a copy to a relative so you can contact them in the case of loss. Email some of the images to yourself so you have a digital copy handy in case you lose something. This will not substitute for your passport, etc. but will help. Be careful about scanning credit card numbers and bank information into your phone (or keeping the email you sent yourself on your phone) since hackers may be able to access it if you lose your phone.
2. Booking Tickets
When booking air travel, always use a flight or travel comparison website. There are several, such as Orbitz and Kayak. These sites help you find the best airline and cheapest price for your dates and routes. But DO NOT BOOK your flights through these comparison sites just yet. Instead, delete your browsing history and then consider booking directly with the airline. This way if you have a flight cancellation or other problem, you can rebook right there at the airport (or train station, etc.) through customer service. If you’ve booked your tickets with third parties (like travel agents or Internet travel sites) and you have a problem, good luck. You’re going to need it.
Be sure your medical and evacuation insurance will cover you overseas, OR buy short-term insurance for the duration of the trip. There are several insurance companies that specialize in this and if you have an eventuality, you will be glad you have good insurance. The world is an increasingly scary place.
4. Electrical Adapters
Be sure to take adapters for your electronic gadgets since most countries outside North America use either 220v or a different type of plug in. You can buy them on line or in many airports. If you lose or forget the charger for your computer or phone, go to the hotel front desk. They will have a huge assortment that others have left behind. You should be able to borrow the one you need.
It is advisable to drink water in route. To save money on expensive water in airports bring along an empty water bottle. Once you clear security, fill it up and you won’t have to pay for a bottle of water. Just make sure it’s empty before you pass through security on your return trip and don’t use tap water in countries where it’s not safe.
In order to save space in your luggage, think through what can be used to “double” for something else. For example, if you need to wash out underwear or other clothing items, shampoo is the perfect substitute for hand wash detergent. It’s great for getting out a grease spot, too.
7. Hotel security
When you leave your hotel room, even if for only a few minutes, place the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Now it appears to housekeeping and others that you are in the room for as long as the sign remains. This adds a layer of security should you have to leave your computer or other valuables in the room for a short time. Try not to leave valuables in the room. The room safe also adds a layer of security though it isn’t completely inaccessible to someone who wants to get into it.
8. Contact numbers
If you are going to a high risk country, be sure to have emergency numbers to call if you are in trouble, and code words to use in case of kidnapping or something similar. Make sure somebody who is in a safe place knows when you are going and where you will be.
9. Country Basic Facts
Be sure to learn something about the countries you are visiting – some basic facts and some “dos and don’ts” can keep you safer and help you to blend in and not appear to be the “dumb American”. Know the people you are meeting and how they can be contacted and ask if they have emergency plans developed ahead of time.
Keep US dollars in more than one spot on your body – money belt, neck pouch etc. Do not be always checking it with your eyes or hands – pick pockets watch for that and then know where your money is. Keep ATM and credit cards safe and tell your banks where you are going and that you plan to use their cards.
11. Jet Lag
Intercontinental travel east and west can be difficult for the first couple of days. I try to start the flight well rested, keep hydrated in flight with no caffeine or alcohol. Walk around the plane as much as possible. Before the flight, do what you can to get on the timline of the zone of arrival, by starting to vary your getup time and your bedtime. A natural bodily chemical, melatonin can be supplemented with special pills and that helps some people. I have found it very important to not sleep upon arrival, but I stay up until an early “normal” bedtime at my destination, no matter how painful. Medications are available so check with your doctor.There are many good tip websites such as these two which I found helpful:
- 15 Not-So-Obvious Ways To Cure Jet Lag Once And For All 1
- Jet Lag: A comprehensive guide to jet lag, prevention tips and jet lag remedies 2
Blessings over your travel preparation and every aspect of your journey!
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures