Common Questions About International Travel

It can be hard to get good information when you’re asking the wrong questions. What can make matters worse, however, is not knowing what you don’t know. If you’re about to head off into uncharted waters, we’ve assembled a list of common questions to help you prepare for your international adventure. And as a bonus, we’re even throwing in the answers…

  1. Do I Need a Passport?

Yes. International travel will ALWAYS require a passport, but may or may not additionally require a visa. Visas are issued by the country to which you are traveling, and you may not gain entry without one. Check with their embassy or consulate and give yourself lots of time as it may take awhile to obtain the necessary documents.

  1. Why Do You Need to Turn Off Electronic Devices on a Plane?

When your flight is departing and shortly before landing, you’ll be asked to turn off all electronic devices. Apparently, they may interfere with the plane’s electronic systems but there really isn’t much evidence to back that up. Most likely, the flight crew simply wants your full attention as they explain the aircraft’s safety measures. In any event, just cope with a few unplugged minutes and you’ll be able to tune back in once you’re in the air or on the ground.

  1. How Do You Stay Healthy When Traveling?

Many people worry about getting sick when they’re on the road but taking a few common sense precautions will lessen the risk of picking up a bug. Drink lots of water, bottled if you have any suspicions about the local supply. Ease back on alcohol and get your drinks without ice in countries where you wouldn’t drink the water. Exercise daily, even if that just means going for a long walk. Most importantly, don’t scrimp on sleep. Getting enough hours of downtime is essential to staying healthy.

  1. When is the Best Time to Buy a Plane Ticket?

Usually, you’ll find the lowest price one to four months before you go. There really isn’t any benefit to buying at the last minute, and if anything, prices rise as the departure date approaches. The idea that you’ll get a bargain by waiting is largely a myth.

  1. How Do I Know if a Country is Safe?

You’ll get a basic overview of which countries to avoid by turning on the evening news. Syria and parts of Africa, for instance, would be a definite “no” at the moment. If you want to learn more, however, the best place to start is on government websites. Most countries issue travel advisories if there’s a problem, so you can check the site in your own country for international warnings, or look at the one in the country you’re planning to visit.

  1. What’s the Best Advice for Traveling in Europe?

Don’t try to do too much. Visiting just one country in Europe is a full-on adventure, and a whirlwind tour through several can be simply overwhelming or exhausting. Plan each day around one memorable outing and look at anything else you experience along the way as a bonus. Yes, you could see the Vatican and the Colosseum in the same day, but why would you want to? Quality is always best over quantity.

  1. Should I Book Accommodations Before or After Booking My Flight?

Start with nailing where you’ll be sleeping. There’s nothing worse than having your plane tickets in hand and nowhere to stay. It’s also cheaper and easier to change or cancel hotel reservations than to start messing around with flights. You can almost always find a way to get to your destination, even if it means connecting flights and layovers. Accommodation, on the other hand, can be incredibly hard to find if it’s high season or there’s a special event in town.

  1. Do I need Travel Insurance?

Yes – if you have a particular health issue, spent more than about $4,000 on your trip, or if it’s going to ease your travel anxieties. No – if you don’t have health issues, can afford to “lose” the trip, or don’t have the extra bucks to spend.

  1. What Happens If My Luggage gets Lost?

Nothing good. The best way to avoid lost luggage is to pack everything into a carry-on, and that can be a lot easier than you might think. If your luggage does get delayed, you’ll need to fill out a lost-luggage form at your airline counter. Most luggage shows up within a couple of days and will be delivered to wherever you’re staying but keep all receipts if you have to buy any necessities while you’re waiting. You should receive compensation for those items, but if you’re luggage is lost forever, you’re unlikely to ever get back what the contents were worth.

  1. Do I Need a Travel Sheet?

Absolutely! A travel sheet from packs up smaller than an iPhone and will keep you safe from bedbugs, creepy-crawlies, and poorly laundered bedding. Made from 100% silk, the hypoallergenic sheet can be washed on-the-go and dries in about an hour. If you’re off on an international adventure, you need to take one of these beauties along for the ride.

Got more questions? Ask a local. Never be shy about asking questions from the people who live wherever you happen to find yourself. And be sure to ask for advice as well as directions. Most people love to share their local knowledge with visitors, and those connections are the foundation of great travel memories.