We all love to go on vacation. Sometimes our holiday is within your own country, but sometimes we're more adventurous and want to visit another country, or fly overseas (my favorite).
The problem is that if you're not prepared, you won't have a stress-free vacation. Below is a checklist of what to remember before traveling out of the country, that I've learned, often the hard way.
I will use Turkey as an example destination with my tips on what to research before you take off, but you can change it to the country you're going to.
At the end of the article, there is a complete checklist you can print to make sure you don't forget anything.
Dealing With Sickness and Jet Lag
Two topics not covered in this article are:
- What to do if you get sick from your journey
- How to treat Jet Lag
Research the Country You're Going to Visit for Vacation
Before you board the plane and get ready for take off, there are a lot of things to take care of.
Your first step is to learn about the customs, food, and laws, of where you're going. You want to know what to expect and don't want to offend anyone. You can start with a general search, then get into specifics.
Unless you are going to an all-inclusive resort, you need to know what areas are potentially dangerous so you can avoid them at all cost.
Start you search with Wikipedia.
Specific Research: What do They Eat?
You want to find out what food they eat; particularly, if you or your family members have allergies. For example, if you are allergic to fish and the main food is fish, you'll want to know what other food options are available. I'm not an adventurous eater, so I always like to know what the countries popular chicken dishes are.
For example, a typical breakfast in Turkey consists of Turkish tea, tomatoes, cucumbers, yogurt, different types of cheeses, olives, boiled eggs, and sourdough white bread. They don't eat pork in Turkey so the meat in the photo is a beef sausage and bologna.
Search travel blogs and websites to get information written by people who have actually visited the country. The countries' tourism websites, won't give you all the little details you want to know.
Language - Do They Speak English?
Learn about the people, and acquaint yourself with the locals. It doesn't hurt to learn a few words and phrases before you leave, but you need to bring a translation dictionary with you.
Additionally, you should do some research to find out what percentage of your destination has English speakers. You might get into a situation where you need help or have a question. So you need to know ahead of time what your chances are of finding an English speaker.
The amount of English speakers can vary in different areas. For example, in Istanbul Turkey, you can find someone who speaks English a lot easier than you can in Burhaniye, where English speakers are few and far between.
Languages spoken in Turkey: Turkey is a multi-cultural country. So there are many languages spoken there. The main language is Turkish, but German is also common in different parts of the country.
You'll want to pick up a bi-lingual dictionary. .
Dictionary and Phrasebook. This is specific to Turkey, but if you click the Amazon link, you can search other languages.
Simple and Easy to Understand Bi-lingual Dictionary
You need a way to communicate when you're not around English speakers.
What to Look for in a Bi-lingual Dictionary
- Simple and easy to use. You don't have to speak at an advanced level. Sometimes just saying one word is all it takes.
- Basic and common everyday words and terms. You want to know words they use, not proper words. We don't speak proper English over here, and the same goes for other countries and their language.
- A break down of topics makes it easier to find what you need. For example, directions, weather, sightseeing, etc.
There are phone apps for translation, but the problem with them is that what you say often comes out distorted. Which won't help you.
Does You Hotel Have Air Conditioning?
Weather Conditions: Air Conditioning Anyone?
Find out what the temperature is where you're going, so you know what to pack. When we traveled to Istanbul Turkey, we ended up taking a jaunt over to Antalya, Turkey where it was 44 degrees celscius or 111 degrees Farehiet.
Coming from a country where 25 degrees is a reason to celebrate, a 19 degree jump was a shock to the system.
What is the Main Religion of the Country You're Visiting?
Research the main religion(s) of the country where you're going. To see if it will cause any issues for you on your trip.
For example, although most Turks are Muslim, but it's a secular state. While some Turks are strict followers of Islam, there are many moderate Muslims.
In general, Turkey is welcoming to other cultures, so it's extremely uncommon to experience problems as a non-Muslim while visiting Turkey.
Istanbul has a wide range of nighttime activities, such as night clubs and bars. The most popular alcoholic drink in Turkey is Raki, and has a licorice flavor similar to Ouzo.
Ramadan: It depends where you go in Turkey during Ramadan how strictly it is followed. In Istanbul for example, everything carries on the same as it does the rest of the year. The only difference is that the restaurant staff who follow the fast, will sit down in hoards to eat when night falls.
Important Documents: Passport
Make sure you complete the emergency information section of your passport. Even if you are traveling with family, something could happen when you're separated, And all it can take is a couple of minutes. If you've ever seen the movie Herafter, you know what I'm talking about. Although it is a worst-case scenario.
Make sure your passport is valid for the country you're visiting. The last thing you want, is to get there and be denied entry. For example, to enter Israel, your passport has to be valid for six-months. If the expiry date of your passport is getting even close to that time, head down to the passport office right away to renew your passport.
There are different Visa rules with each country. Some countries just take money, while others have a complicated visa application process. They should tell you when you book your flight what you need, but you should find that out as soon as possible.
For example, in Turkey you pay for your Visa ($60 US) after you get off the plane and go through customs.
Important Identification and Credit Cards
Take two photocopy’s of your important identification. The first page of your passport, your drivers license, front and back, and your credit cards. In the unfortunate event that you lose your wallet, it's a lot easier to replace these items if you have a photograph of the information.
Leave one of your copies at home with someone you can trust. Take the second one with you on the airplane. If your hotel has a safe, keep your copy in there after you arrive at your destination.
Take credit cards out of your wallet that you do not intend to use. As well, make sure you don't have any password information in your wallet, in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Take a trip to the doctor and make sure you are in tip-top health. You don't want an illness creeping up on you, while you're on vacation.
- Make sure you buy health insurance. Travelers never want to think about accidents or illness when they're planning a dream vacation. Unfortunately, they are a reality, and the bills can pile up quickly; particularly, if you have to be air-lifted anywhere.
Itinerary - Planned Travel Route
You don't have to plan every minute of your trip, but you need a general idea of where you will stay. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family in case of an emergency, so they can find you.
Check and double-check your itinerary. Make sure you know your flight numbers and expected departures and arrival times. Make a note of your layover times. If you have a long one, see what tours the airport offers. On an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam, we went on a three-hour tour. It was great to throw in another country on our trip.
Make sure to check your flight online before you leave for changes. In April when I was leaving Germany I didn't do that. My 8:00 am flight was changed to 1:00 pm. That wouldn't have been so bad, if I hadn't stayed up all night so I could sleep easily on my trip home.
- Secure reliable transportation to get to and from the airport. Although it's not fun sitting at the airport leave extra early, because missing your flight would suck even more.
Getting Through Airport Security Faster With Less Hassle
- Don't wear belts, or any clothing that will set off the metal detector. You can put your belt, jacket, etc. in your carry-on bag when you go through security. The less stuff you have on your person, the faster you'll get through. As well, you won't hold up the line.
- Bring flip flops or light shoes to change into at the airport. They are easier taking on and off. Plus your feet may swell on the plane.
- Don't take your laptop. Buy an iPad or E-reader mini.
- Put your liquids that you are allowed to take on the plane – 100 mls or less – into a baggie at your house, not at the airport.
Don't Forget to Pack...
- Buy a voltage converter, its much easier to use your flat iron that way.
- Pack any medications you will need. This includes prescriptions and Tylenol, or Gravol.
- If you smoke, bring a smoking aide with you.
- Start packing early, to ensure you don't forget anything. If you need to use an item packed in your suitcase such as your camera, make sure you put it back.
- Pack your suitcase lightly and plan for the airline to lose your luggage. This way you won't be devastated if it happens. Try to put as much as you can in your carry-on bag. If you are concerned about weight restrictions, buy a large purse. Although some airlines such as Air Canada have restrictions on how heavy your purse is, they did not check my purse on either of my flights.
- Bring your own pillow and blanket, because airlines are cheap. For a better sleep, cover your head with your blanket and leave a little space on the side to breath. This way light and distractions won't bother you as much.
Overseas Travel Voltage Converter
Don't Forget Your Travel Voltage Converter if...
You plan on charging your cell phone, iPad, or use your blow dryer and straightener.
I forgot mine in 2009, and when you're on vacation and use Facebook as your main source of communication with the people at home, it's a problem if you can't log on.
Sure you can go to an internet cafe, but have you ever tried using a keyboard from another country? I can tell you it's hell.
They sell them overseas, but sometimes it's not so easy finding out where. It took me at least six hours to find a store.
Food:What are the main dishes, and what other dishes do they make
Language: How much of the country speaks English?Bi-lingual dictionary
Weather: How hot or cold does it get. Do the hotels all have air conditioners?
Religion: What's the main religion? What do I need to be aware of so I don't offend any one?
Passport: Do, I have to get mine renewed? Is the emergency section completed?
Important Identification: 2 copies
Credit cards, clear out wallet of any passwords or pin numbers
Buy health insurance
Itinerary - 2 copies
Itinerary, flight numbers, arrival and departure times, reliable transportation to the airport.
Electronics: Camera and iPad
Don't forget to pack: Travel voltage converter, travel docs, medications, smoking aide, camera, electronics, cell phone. kids
Things to Remember When Traveling out of the Country - Getting Prepared
It pays to be prepared before you leave on your trip out of the country. This is especially true when flying overseas. The above tips can ensure that you have a fun and stress free departure and trip. Make sure you enjoy yourself and take lots of pictures.
You will cherish them forever. If you are taking small children, make sure they have their own camera, as it will keep them occupied.
Your tips? Don't Forget to Share Them With Other Readers in the Comments
For more information on this topic, you can also check out the Hubs written by my fellow Hubbers below this article.
Comments Are Welcome
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 28, 2013:
Yes, they should, and when people are stranded at airports such as when the volcano interrupted so many travelers in 2009.
hussein on August 15, 2013:
if possible immigration office should provide applicants with at least a tent plus portable chairs out side the premises as waiting for their pass ports or visas...
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 20, 2013:
Thank you Gypsy 48. Yes having copies of theses items is a very good idea. I hope on your next trip, you make sure get them copied.
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 20, 2013:
You're welcome rebeccamealey :-).
Gypsy48 on March 20, 2013:
Very helpful information when planning a trip to another country. Making photo copies of Ids, passports and credit cards was something I hadn't though of myself. Voted up and useful.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 20, 2013:
This is great information to help plan a trip out of the country Thanks!
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on February 25, 2013:
Thank you Kathryn :).
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on February 23, 2013:
This is great information for those who are traveling out of their country. I'm going to share this!
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 23, 2011:
Thank you moiragallaga, great point! I forgot about that. We discovered on one of our many trips to Turkey that the Canadian Embassy is in Ankara only. There is one in Istanbul but it is only a sub office that doesn't have the power do actually do anything, so it's quite useless.
Moira Garcia Gallaga from Lisbon, Portugal on November 19, 2011:
Very good advice Koralee. Travelling is a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience, but it is good to be prepared for certain contingencies as you have shared on your hub.
If I may add one more detail, it would be good also to determine beforehand if your country has an Embassy or Consulate in the country you wish to visit and secure their contact information. In case you run into trouble, especially big trouble, get in touch with them as soon as you can.
Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 17, 2011:
Hi Millionaire Tips: It was great having the opportunity to see Amsterdam. Not always lucky though with layovers, one time we spent all night at London Heathrow.
Shasta Matova from USA on November 17, 2011:
These is great advice for travelers. I like the idea of taking a tour during a layover. I haven't had a layover this long, but sometimes I have wished I planned one that long, so I could see the area.