Happy Wednesday Friends!
I can’t believe that it has been six months since we made the decision to travel to Thailand. In our spare time, we have been busy researching, planning, and saving for this upcoming trip, and we can now official say that we leave for Thailand next month. The sheer logistics of planning a trip to a place you’ve never been, that happens to be half way around the world is daunting; and at times, trying to sort through all of the information can feel overwhelming. So I wanted to share some simple tips that will help you when planning your next international trip.
If you missed my first post with the two bonus travel tips, go ahead and take a peek, I’ll wait…
Are you all up to speed? Clearly, the first three steps are the basics to any trip, so today I want to dig a little deeper and uncover the tips that are absolutely vital for a successful international trip.
Step Four: Visit these two websites: The U.S Department of State and the CDC
Now that you’ve thoroughly researched your destination (or have flipped through the travel guide at least once), it’s a good idea to take a look at the U.S. Department of State website. Not only do they list travel advisories throughout the world, but they also list important information for your specific destination, such as: entry/exit and Visa requirements, embassy locations, safety and security information, and important local laws.
The State website also includes a link to visit the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in order to understand all of the potential health hazards at your destination, and most importantly, vaccine information for your upcoming travels. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your health care provider within the appropriate windows before your travel date. Do not skip this step as some countries require certain vaccinations in order to enter.
Step Five: Understanding Your Money
Before heading to the airport, contact your credit card company to declare your travel plans. This step won’t guarantee that your card won’t be flagged while you’re overseas, but it will help your odds. While you’re at it, make sure that your card covers foreign transactions so you won’t be charged fees on every purchase.
You’ll want to have some cash or traveler’s check on hand when you depart, so research the current currency exchange rates and plan your budget accordingly. Remember that not all locations offer the same exchange rates, so knowing the current rates will give you the confidence that your money is going as far as it possibly can.
While we’re on the subject, I’ve secured a few of our reservations for Thailand through PayPal.com and there’s a money-saving trick that I want to share with you today. My reservations were billed in Thailand’s currency (known as Baht), and at checkout Paypal provided two different options for currency conversion:
1) Allow Paypal to convert the Bahts to US Dollars (this option is the Paypal default)
2) Allow Paypal to process the charge in Bahts and my credit card company will complete the currency conversion.
Because option 1 is the default, the final balance was displayed in USD, and after a quick mathematical calculation I noticed that Paypal wasn’t giving me nearly as much on the conversion rate compared to what I was seeing on the XE (Live Currency Exchange) website. Armed with this information I chose option 2 and hoped that my credit card company would give me a better conversion rate.
Needless to say, I was delighted when I checked the pending transactions on my credit card and saw that Capital One gave me the live conversion rate, which was much more favorable. So when dealing with currency exchange, remember that everyone will always want a slice of the pie. Thankfully Capital One’s conversion policy saved me $20-$70 on each purchase.
Step Six: Engaging the Electronics
This step is important to us because my husband’s world revolves around technology; and let’s face it, you’ll want to stay in contact so you can post those fabulous pictures on Instagram and Facebook. ;-)
First, you’ll want to know if your phone even works at your destination. Will you need a Global Data Package from your cellular provider or can you use a SIM card? (FYI: From my research, apparently SIM cards can be purchased at the Bangkok International Airport). Contact your cell phone provider to understand your options when traveling out of the country.
Second, now that those electronics are working, how are you going to charge them? Take some time to research the power requirements so you can bring the necessary converters, if applicable.
Travel advisories, vaccines, currency exchange, and electronics… What do you think of these tips so far?