International Travel - Being Prepared
No matter how well you plan for an international vacation, unexpected surprises will come along big or small. Planning ahead for these unexpected hiccups will help you be prepared for any situation. Of course having a Pixie Planner to help you navigate these possibilities before and during your vacation is always a good idea, but we are a little biased. We don't always like talking about these circumstances, but we want to make our guests prepared for any situation.
Some things that could possibly happen: -You could miss a connecting flight
-Luggage could not arrive on time or at all
-You could lose your passport
-You could need medical attention
-Weather could change your travel plans
One thing that we always suggest whether taking a small domestic vacation or a long-haul international vacation, is travel insurance. This is something that we offer in our vacation packages to give peace of mind knowing what is covered when something happens during travel. We cannot stress travel insurance enough. We have a preferred partner that can be added during the booking process or after booking, but you always want to have travel insurance before it's too late. Weather, medical issues, deaths in the family, etc. are all things that can effect your travel plans at any time. Having a good travel insurance policy that is easy to understand is the easiest way to have peace of mind when things like this happen.
Another thing that we hear a lot is that someone wants to just "go with the flow" for their international vacation. While this can be fun and you will find yourself in some amazing places, eating amazing food and meeting amazing people, it is not always a good idea. Planning the "bones" of your trip is an easy way to be sure that you know exactly where you are going and when. Winging it when it comes to flights and hotel can result in more money spent, time wasted, and circumstances you might not have expected out of an international vacation.
Again, our owner Shana had this mind set during her Italy vacation and did not arrange hotel for her stay in Rome. She was quoted an amount and after a 2 night stay, the amount went up over 100 euros per night. Having this booked ahead of time would have avoided that costly surprise.
Having a plan for missing a connecting flight or losing your luggage is also another thing to consider. We always suggest packing enough essentials in your carry on to get you through until your luggage is found or you are compensated. Packing smart can really save you if anything does happen during travel. In most cases when an airline loses your luggage, they will attempt to send your bags to your next destination, hotel, or compensate you for your loss. Be ready to be in this situation if it does happen. Our owner Shana traveled to Italy for a cruise where she almost missed her connecting flight and her baggage was lost. Having personal experience on these situations helps us help our guests for any situation in the future.
Another thing that most people don't consider while abroad is that your passport could be stolen or lost during your vacation. If this happens to you or a family member during travel, it can be a hassle, but it does not mean you are stuck in the country forever. One thing that can help if you find yourself in this situation is always keeping a photocopy or digital picture of your passport so that you can prove US citizenship. Another quick tip can be finding the local US embassy, reporting your passport stolen, contact family at home, and be ready to pay a pretty penny for an expedited passport while abroad.
Planning your connectivity and spending before you leave can help make sure that you don't go over budget or find yourself with extra fees when you get home. Knowing the details of your cell phone plan before leaving is very important. Is international coverage included in your cell phone plan? Just US, Canada, and Mexico? Call your phone company and find out the what is covered or how much it will cost you to purchase coverage for where you are traveling. Researching if your hotel, local restaurants, airports etc. offer free Wi-Fi can help when your phone plan does not cover the country you are visiting.
Another thing to look into when traveling is what international fees the credit or debit cards you will be bringing will have during your trip. Most credit cards will have 1-3% international fees which can add up after many purchases, but finding a good card that has no international fees can help ease your mind when making purchases and knowing you will not always need to carry cash. You will also want to ensure your card has the chip and pin system and that you know your pin. In many countries these systems are the only cards accepted. When carrying cash, researching the best places to exchange without crazy fees will also save you money and time. Most airports will charge more than local institutions so always do research beforehand.
Overall, when you get home, the imperfections of your trip will be the wonderful stories you tell later (we promise).
Have a crazy travel story? We'd love to hear it in the comments below!
As always, if you are looking to plan an international or close to home vacation in the future, reach out for a FREE quote today!