Friday, January 5, 2018

International Travel Tips

Before I begin let me just say, there is one day of the week that I allow myself to sleep in
 (unless I have an appointment) and that day is Friday. 
By "sleep in" I mean until 7:30am. 
So, my blog gets started a little later on Fridays sometimes. 
Thanks for dealing with me!

As you've probably seen, I'm headed to Thailand in a week for 9 days!

Featuring, the sun hat I'll be wearing and NOT a coat and scarf!

Current weather: 80-90 degrees 

I've never been to Thailand but I've been to:
+ France (Northern)
+ Italy (Rome and Venice)
+ Finland
+ Estonia
+ Germany 
+ Spain
+ Czech Republic
+ Canada (Toronto, Quebec City, Halifax)
+ Panama (City, and several islands)
+ Mexico (Cancun, Cabo)

Tallinn, Estonia

So, since I've never been to Thailand, I won't be sharing with you tips for packing for THIS trip because to be honest, I'm still figuring out the intricacies myself!

But, I will give you how I plan for my international trips and what to commonly pack,
some you may know (like passport, duh), and some you may not have thought of!
Also, please share yours with me too. I LOVE to talk travel. 

Helsinki, Finland, with my travel crew

How to prepare "The Big 3":
I'm not going over booking a flight or a hotel, as this is pretty self explanatory, I think?
But if you were wondering, I recommend the app hopper for cheap flights and AirBNB, hostels, or a bed and breakfast. Hostels and bed and breakfasts' allow you to interact more with locals and are more kind on your wallet in a lot of situations. 

Get Your Bearings
 (months in advance if possible)
A few months in advance (if I have that much time), I will start researching customs and language, and learn enough phrases to get me around. 
{In France, I considered myself well prepared as I had been a French minor, but that did NOT account for the slang! All of a sudden, there were all of these words I had never heard in my life,  being spoken at a VERY fast pace. So basically I shoved cheese in my mouth until I was able to get all of the phrases down. I recommend doing this in advance to save yourself the scare, and the pounds.}
For Thailand there are several different ways that you bow, according to hierarchy. I'm not trying to offend anyone! Every country has intricacies like this, you'll be way better off if you prepare in advance. Also, if you want to do some kind of tour, check out the best places and tour guides and any other activities. Many places require you book way in advance! 
(I'm looking at you, any place that has four wheelers).
This also includes finding out, weather, zone, clothes people wear, etc.

Transportation
 (weeks to months in advance)
Learn some common city routes before you go, check out where the bus, train and metro stops are, and also, check out the discounts for students or other discounts available! In France, we were able to go to Paris on the weekend, for around 11 euros? Of course this was back in 2008, so I'm not sure of the current rate, but I am sure it's probably affordable. 
I'd look into where to get a travel card if needed too, like a pass for the bus that may be cheaper to take each day. Find out where you buy these things in the city you are going to.
This also depends on length of time staying. 
Or do like my friends, find out where you can rent a bike! (weather and location permitting)

Health 
(weeks in advance or as determined by doctor)
Insurance + Shots needed are your best friends. Get travel insurance, & get shots needed at a travel doctor office. 
If you can, research the shots in the area that you are going, and make sure you are up to date on Tetanus, (recommend going to your regular doc for this, because they are VERY expensive at the travel doctor). 

Isla Grande, Panama


What to pack:

This can vary by location and has to do with preparation part 1 "Get your bearings". For Thailand, I need bug spray, in a serious way, as well as light clothes. 

For the most part I have found the following to be helpful:
+ Ear buds (you never know)- 
the kind that keep the noise out, and the kind where you listen to music. 
+ Passport (even on a train!)
Don't be like me and leave it back at the airBNB because you will be on a train to another country instead of an airplane. Otherwise you'll spend days not sleeping in Munich because you are afraid of being detained. 
+ Books, (1 or 2) 
Like if you are going to Thailand, and your flight is hella long. 
+ A converter charger
Depends on country, Europe has different prongs, countries stateside are the same. 
Thailand has a voltage that works with my phone charger, so that was nice. If you have a hair dryer, I'd look into that too.
+ Comfortable walking shoes
But really, need I say more? The more function the better- from night to day and still fly? I like it.
+ Dry shampoo
For those days when you just need a boost
+ A wash cloth (if this is important to you)
In Europe, I don't know why, but they just don't believe in them. 
+ A bigger suitcase for more room
I know, you want to look so awesome with your minimalism and your small suitcase. 
I get it. 
But, guess what? You're probably going to buy souvenirs, and you probably will need more space. Mom needs that home made dish. So have space for it. 
+ Granola or in my case Clif Bars
You never know what will happen, maybe you are still hungry after dinner, maybe you can't eat the same food again for some reason, whatever the issue, you won't be hungry if you are prepared.
A camera! (and maybe tripod)
Most commonly on your phone, but also can be in the form of an instant camera like Instax, which I am really excited about! I'm probably taking my tripod too, so I can get photos of myself without bugging my friends.
+ Common over the counter meds (and any others you need)
Examples include advil, excedrin, tylenol, peptid, etc. 
If you are taking heavier drugs, make sure you check country guidelines.
I'm taking antibiotics and my auto immune medicine, just in case. 
I also recommend always leaving prescribed meds in their appropriate bottles. 
+ Water bottle with filter
Make sure that water that you have is always safe!

Drinking to get rid of my "not having a passport with me" fear
Munich, Germany (beer gardens)



This list is not extensive, things like bug spray, sunscreen, the appropriate clothes based on location or activities (hiking boots, etc), it all depends. These are pretty much standard for any location that you are going to, and I welcome more ideas as well!

Prague, Czech Republic


It's been years since I've been overseas, so I'm excited for all of the traveling coming up this year. 

Barcelona, Spain


Can't wait to see what everyone else is doing as well! Have a great weekend. 

-SBR

Quebec City, Canada

























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