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Are you spending your summer studying abroad? Backpacking through a different country? Or visiting an exotic area with your family and friends? Whatever it is you may be doing, if you are planning on traveling abroad over the summer break it is going to be quite the haul. The excitement of going to a foreign country, especially if it is somewhere you have never been before, can be overwhelming and often overshadow some preparing you will need to do before you catch that flight. While you may already have your passport, your flights booked, and your lodging all scheduled, there is so much more planning that needs to be done. Here a few helpful tips for preparing to travel abroad.

Know Your Cell Phone Plan

You are traveling to an entirely different country, therefore, your electronic devices are not going to receive the connection and service they do here in America. Before you leave, contact your phone company or go into their store and ask about how you can get an international phone plan. If you choose not to get an international phone plan, look at apps like WhatsApp that allow you to call and stay in touch with anyone, anywhere. The last thing you want to do is get abroad and realize you cannot contact anyone back home.

Contact Your Bank

If your bank sees someone used your card to make a purchase in France while you live in Alabama, they are going to freeze your debit or credit card, and this is the last thing you want happening. How else are you going to buy food or souvenirs? Always inform your bank when you are traveling abroad. If they know you are heading out of the country for those few weeks in June, they will not be surprised when a suspicious charge is made on your card.

Learn a Little About the Culture of Where You Are Going

Whether it is buying an “Italian for Dummies” book or watching YouTube videos of Rome, have an idea of what the culture is like where you are traveling. There can be quite a few differences between American lifestyle and that of another country. For example, in many areas of Europe, attire is very elegant. While we usually spend our days in Nike shorts, an oversized t-shirt, and tennis shoes, many women on the other side of the world are wearing flowy dresses or skirts and sandals or wedges. Often, wearing footwear such as sneakers makes you stand out of the crowd and is an obvious sign you are a tourist.

Buy an Adapter

You will be spending so much time taking pictures of all the neat sights and surroundings that your battery on your phone, camera, etc. will run out in a blink. Before you head overseas, look up the type of outlets found in the country you are going to and buy an adapter. These can be found easily in stores such as Walmart or Target.

Book Weekend Excursions ASAP

For those of you studying abroad, you will probably have free weekends with nothing required of you or planned by your organization/school. This is the perfect time to grab your group and head to a nearby city or a border country just a train ride away. However, if you do plan these, plan them as soon as possible. This way, your tour, plane or train ride, etc. will be much cheaper and you can let your site leader/guide know where you all are going.

Pack as Light as You Can—Only What You Think You’ll Need

The last thing you want to do is lug your 50-pound suitcase across cobblestone roads and up and down stairs. Pack only what you think you will truly need. You will also want to save this space for the keepsakes and items you will see and just have to buy.

Schedule a Check-Up with Your Doctor

Depending on where you are traveling, you may need a quick physical or check-up with your physician before you get on that plane. Often parts of Asia and Africa, for example, require visitors to have had certain vaccinations before they enter the country. Make sure you know about the rules and policies of where you are going and if you need to take care of anything like this beforehand.

Be Open-Minded

Traveling to a different country is an entirely new experience. It may take a while to get accustomed to the different mannerisms of the citizens, the language, the food, and the day-to-day routines. No matter what, even if you feel homesick at times, stay optimistic! Remember, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the chance from some real-world experience and learning. Before you know it, the trip could be over. So take adventures, try new things, and have fun.

….Don’t Forget Your Passport!

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