Useful Tips For Stress-Free Long Trips, by A Travel Addict!
We all get excited when planning for a trip abroad and the wanderlust seed within us grows more intense as the time for departure approaches. The myriad of emotions is completely normal, as it is natural to feel anticipation and joy ahead of your little adventure, whether it is a matter of a week-long getaway or a longer trip.
However, feelings like stress and frustration might also be common, especially when planning transatlantic and/or long travels.
You might be confused as to where to begin, what documents you’ll need and how to organize your traveling schedule, to smaller things like what to pack and which travel adaptor to take with you.
In this article, I’ll try my best to narrow things down by compiling a list of practical steps and tips that will ensure that you’ll have carefree transatlantic travels (all based on more than 8 years of trips all over the world!)
Check Necessary Paperwork
Airplane tickets and best deal accommodation are not the most important things when starting the travel planning process.
Valid documents are a prerequisite and a great tip is to prepare and translate them in due time, especially before entering an English-speaking country like the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. You might need documents such as your birth certificate when entering these countries and since this is a document issued in your native language, you must obtain a professional birth certificate translation that will be recognized by the authorities.
Make sure you keep track of everything about visas, and passports. None of us have our passports’ expiration date memorized but a good thing is to take a glance at it to make sure that it is valid for at least six months before traveling.
Depending on the purpose of travel, you should check whether you need a visa and if so, apply for the correct one. Every country has its specific requirements and rules and since this procedure can be time-consuming, tedious, and costly, you should get informed and get it out of the way as soon as possible.
A pro tip when traveling overseas is to always email scanned copies of important documents to yourself or bring them with you as hardcopies in your carry-on baggage.
Calculate Your Travel Costs
Expenses can vary greatly, depending on the concrete destination, how many of you are traveling together, if you have any special requirements, and so forth. However, there are some rules of thumb that you can use to find a budget that suits you.
The cost of living during the trip consists of:
- Travel by bus and train
- Activities and experiences
- Entertainment and other unforeseen costs.
To nail down how much money you’ll need, make a budget before departure and check the price situation in the specific country to avoid big surprises. If necessary, exchange a small amount of cash, to begin with. If you withdraw money at an ATM or pay by card, always choose the local currency.
Keep in mind that some countries charge a fee for ATM withdrawals, but are usually a better option than local exchange offices. Reviewing what fees your card company charges for withdrawals and payments can help a lot. Make sure you also have a barring number available in case you lose your card or if it gets stolen.
Pack Right and Light
Dreaming and planning a special trip can be almost as wonderful as the trip itself. But many people find it a bit awkward when it comes to the practical preparations and the packing itself.
Whether you are going out and traveling with a cabin bag, checked suitcases, a backpack as I did for years, or just taking a small bag with you, it always makes sense to pack in a smart way that saves space.
When you pack properly, you not only get space for everything you need, but you also avoid wrinkled clothes and tangled cords. Plus, no more stress when looking for something: You will know where your stuff is at all times!
Start by making a list of the basic items you need before you start packing. Then uncheck them from the list while packing. Randomly throwing things in your suitcase will not be particularly effective and will make you forget important things.
It seems like a bit of a clichè advice but after a while on the road you tend to forget the obvious, believe me 🙂
Most travelers overestimate what they need to take with them on the trip and underestimate the importance of their baggage. Many airlines (especially low-cost airlines) profit very well from the travelers’ overweight baggage.
By halving the number of items and aiming for the “basics” you will reduce the risk of both headaches and unnecessary extra costs.
Once you have made your list, you can put everything you need on your bed or the floor. This gives you a good overview and makes it easier to eliminate things you don’t need.
Yes, here we go again with the paperwork. But this is an especially important step to ensure that everything runs smoothly during your travel.
Before packing all your bags, check whether your health insurance policy covers international travel. If not, opt for one that will cover you for unpredicted things like an injury or illness, any trip cancellation, baggage protection, or theft.
Experienced travelers will tell you that anything can happen when being so far away from home, and therefore you must think of ways to protect yourself from any unwanted situations.
Still don’t think ourchasing the right travel insurance for you isn’t important? Well let’s see how it saved my life (and finances) ver the years!
- I got sick by drinking water in Johannesburg and I had to stop my trips, rent a small place where they would deliver the food and stay on bed rest for 10 days in Nairobi- Kenya. All that costed me more than 3000 euros. In 10 days my insurance paid me back and I had my money in the bank.
2. I was robbed on an overnight bus from Bangkok to Krabi, 600 euros, all the cash I had. After going to the police for the paperwork, I contacted my insurance who promptly gave me some extra cash for the expenses.
I could go on and on because I have used my insurance A LOT and they have been amazing in saving many of my trips.
So do your research and make sure that you find reliable travel insurance options suited to your plans. After careful consideration, I decided on World Nomads and after my experiences, I will never change it.
Learn More About the Destination
Regardless of what you’ve seen on TV or read about, a culture shock will most probably hit you in one way or another when you’ve reached your destination.
Even though it’s always nice to be surprised, it’s smart to be prepared so that you use the time on exploring and enjoyment wisely and productively.
Think about what exactly it is you want to see and experience during your trip. If you’re a music enthusiast, read up about any music festivals that might take place, or if you are a real foodie, eager to explore different world cuisines, research about popular restaurants that offer top-notch service and delicious food experience.
If you don’t feel most comfortable with your (English) language skills, try to learn some phrases that will help you in the beginning, and as the trip unfolds you will be sure to pick up other phrases and new words.
Don’t panic and relax because the best part about traveling overseas is leaving our comfort zones, enjoying ourselves, and creating everlasting memories.
Before we head out on our new transatlantic voyage, we need some initial steps to practically plan out our traveling.
When we complete burdensome but necessary tasks such as sorting out our documents, completing legal procedures, we can put greater focus on preparing the fun part of the trip.
In the grand scheme of things, drawing up a budget, keeping an eye on the currency, taking out health insurance, and packing lightly, will make our travel much less stressful and more carefree.