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Monday, July 17, 2017

International Travel | Things to Know

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During our very first international trip, Mario and I planned things out as much as we could but we discovered that there were a few things we hadn't considered.  If you're planning to visit other countries please do a bit of research about where you're visiting, the people, the culture, the rules/laws, the way of living, etc.

Below are just a few things I wish we'd known before traveling abroad:

Currency
Know what type of currency is being used and what the exchange rate is for the country you're planning to visit. Determine if there are any fees that your bank will charge for pulling out money so that you'll know whether it's a good idea to pull out what you need each day or larger quantities every few days to save on costs.

I knew there was a fee to pull money from the ATM, but I didn't think about the fact that we'd be charged a fee every time we swiped our card as well.  It's also a good idea to let your bank know you're traveling out of the country if you're concerned that they'll flag your charges as fraudulent.
Accommodations
Be sure to get a feel for the way people live before you travel in order to set your expectations.  If you're traveling to Europe and you're using a service like Innclusive or Airbnb oryou must keep in mind that the size of houses won't be the same as what you may be accustomed too, and the way they manage their water, their electricity, etc. may be different.  If you go into those type of accommodations knowing what to expect then you'll appreciate what the country has to offer so much more.  It's so easy to compare things to what you're used to back home, and that can lead to disappointment if you're not mindful.  

Outlets
Determine if you'll need an outlet converter. We were not prepared for the outlets to be different when we traveled to Paris.  Luckily, our Airbnb rental had three USB ports available that we were able to use to charge a few things, like our phones.  In addition, I'd rented a portable hotspot and it came with a converter (more to come on that in another post).  That converter was extremely useful so that we could charge our laptops and I could use my curling iron.

Cellphones
Check to see whether your phone plan will work.  We're with StraightTalk so we figured ours wouldn't and a quick call to customer service confirmed this.  I immediately did a search for hotspot rentals and found an inexpensive one that I highly recommend.  We had coverage in Paris and during our trip to London, and it came with a portable charger as well so we were able to keep it going from when we left at the start of our day to our return late at night.

Even if your wireless plan is covered in another country, it may still be wise to go with a hotspot.  It's so easy to max out on your data plan when you're traveling, especially if you're into apps like Snapchat.  So, if you think you'll be using your phone a lot while you're out and about for maps, apps, etc., then strongly consider purchasing a hotspot to use during your trip.

Packing
No matter the length of your trip, you truly don't need as many clothes, shoes, accessories, and toiletries as you think you do. I highly suggest packing in a such a way to only need a carry-on, especially if you're traveling for a week or less.  If all of your luggage is with you then you eliminate the risk of it getting lost in transit.  It's also helpful not to have a bunch of large, bulky luggage to lug around when you're trying to get your bearings in a new place when you arrive at the airport, especially when trying to find transportation.

There are so many videos online that will show you how to make this miracle happen, ladies.  And, I think travel cubes are one of the keys to maximizing how much you can fit into your bag, so look into purchasing a set.  I bought my Travel Ready set from Roni, The Travel Guru.  She has some great articles on how to pack for trips on her site as well.
Transportation
If where you're going has a metro or bus system, be sure to understand the rules of those systems before using them.  You won't be able to get a feel for the system itself until you're actually using it, but read through a few articles and guides about the transportation system and make sure you're following all requirements.  Being from another country is not an excuse for not knowing what the requirements are.
A quick story:  While we were in Paris, we used the metro only.  We'd buy our tickets for the day, then insert a ticket and receive it back to get through the gates.  There was one instance where we did this, then realized we'd gone to the wrong stop, threw away the used ticket and tried to go a different way to go to the next stop. We were stopped by the Paris Metro Ticket Enforcement and since we couldn't produce the tickets we used to get through the gate, we were told that we would be fined.  The fines are typically 45 euros or more per offender.  They weren't understanding us as we tried to explain and we weren't understanding them.  I was so upset and eventually begin to cry about the whole thing as they were carting us off. For some reason, one of the officers was sympathetic to my tears. They eventually just let us go. It's my understanding that they usually won't accept any excuses so this is very rare. Know. The. Rules. 

With that said, please, please follow the rules in the country that you're traveling to.  This goes for more than just transportation,  Do a quick search for key laws taking note of things that you might consider normal in your country but are considered illegal where you're traveling.  Then be cautious, aware and a law-abiding tourist so that you can enjoy your trip without a hitch.

I hope you've found this handful of tips to be helpful.

If you've traveled internationally, what are some other things people should consider?  Leave your tips in the comments!

*Affiliate links are included within this post. See full disclosure policy.*

Live fully,
xoxo, Nicole

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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wordless Wednesday | London

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