In 2016, commercial airlines carried more than 3.8 billion passengers to destinations both domestic and international. But if you aren’t a seasoned traveler, you might need some help when it’s time to find cheap flights, pack, board, and have a great time on your vacation. This four-part series for newbie adventurers, is just the place to start.
In the first installment of our series, we outlined some great tips for booking cheap international flights. Now let’s go beyond the quest to find cheap flights and look at how you should prepare for your trip (and some must-haves you’ll need to bring along with you).
How to Prepare and Pack
- Get passports and medical care squared away: Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get a passport! Take care of this before you even book your airline tickets as it can take several months for passports to arrive and you’ll want to avoid a time crunch. Already have a passport? Then you’ll want to double-check to make sure it will still be valid for six months after you return from your trip. Make copies of your passport for yourself and someone you trust at home (take a picture with your smartphone, too). Check in advance if you’ll need to receive certain vaccinations for where you’re going.. Finally, make sure to refill any prescriptions that you’ll need before your trip and pack it in your carry-on luggage.
- Make your itinerary (but don’t overdo it): Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a “type A” personality who loves to plan ahead, you’ll still want to have a daily schedule of activities you plan to do. Not only will this help you not miss out on any of the best sights, but it will also give your friends and family a better idea of where you are in case they’re unable to contact you. For certain events, it’s imperative to purchase tickets in advance; creating a daily schedule will allow you to fit everything in. However, you should resist the urge to over-schedule yourself. Give yourself some breathing room to explore, rest, and account for unexpected delays. This can keep you from getting stressed once you arrive.
- Remember your tech: In the digital age, most of us can’t live without our gadgets. When you visit another country, you’ll still want to stay connected to friends and family back home. But you’ll have to take steps to ensure your devices can charge and function without costing you a fortune when you’re traveling internationally. Be sure to pack an adapter for your phone, laptop, tablet, and other electronics to ensure they can plug into the wall without blowing a fuse. You should also talk to your cell service provider to ensure you have an international calling plan or use messaging apps that operate on WiFi (like WhatsApp) to avoid those dreaded roaming charges. Finally, if you plan to take lots of pictures, bring along a selfie stick.
- Pack layers and prepare for lost baggage: Of course, you’ll want to consult a reliable weather app when you pack for your trip to ensure you won’t be over- or under-dressed. Usually, it’s a good idea to pack and wear versatile layers on your trip. That way, you can cut down on baggage weight while still being prepared for almost any conditions. In addition, you should consider packing like you expect your airline to lose your bags. While we all hope this will never happen, you’ll want to be prepared if it does. Pack an extra set of clothes and a jacket in your carry-on bag just in case.
Once you find cheap flights to your destination of choice, pack up your bags, and prepare for your trip, you’ll probably still need some assistance to make sure everything goes smoothly. Be sure to stay tuned for parts three and four of this series, which will cover healthy flying habits, safe travel tips, and advice for when you arrive. We’ll be here to find you the best possible rates when you’re ready to travel.