Traveling International: What To Expect

Traveling International: What To Expect

Planning an international trip? There’s a lot of planning involved with traveling out of the country and putting a to-do list together can be stressful. ParkDIA is here to help with this to-do list to make sure your trip gets planned properly, for the before, during, and after.

Passport

Unless you have some dual citizenship you can take advantage of, if you plan to leave the United States, you need to get a passport. The process of getting a passport is a fairly simple one, but it can take up to a month, so plan well in advance for this so you don’t get stuck at the border.

  1. Start with something easy. Get your picture taken. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but you will need to go somewhere that prints passport photos, like your local Walgreens, UPS, FedEx, or USPS office.
  2. Next, fill out a DS-11 form for a new passport or a DS-82 for renewing a passport.
  3.  You’ll need two proofs of ID. You’ll need proof of citizenship with a birth or naturalization certificate, and a photo ID, like a driver’s license or a military ID card. For more examples, look here for citizenship evidence and here for photo identification.
  4. There is a fee which varies depending on what process you’re following. You can find a full list of those fees here.
  5. With all of that, either apply online on a government regulated website (with a .gov) or by going to a local passport acceptance facility, like a county clerk or postal service. 
  6. On average, it takes around six to eight weeks for a passport to be processed, regardless of where you take your information. If you’re traveling in less than three weeks, you can have this expedited, but this can have an increased fee. Plan well in advance.
  7. If you applying for a child’s passport, you must provide proof of relationship and both parents must appear in person when submitting the request, or otherwise have written consent.

Packing

Traveling to another country means you will be stuck in another nation until you return. If traveling wasn’t enough of what you bring is what you have, then traveling internationally, particularly to another continent, most definitely is. Make a checklist and pack a couple of weeks in advance and double check everything several times.

Further, you need to keep in mind the other countries’ Borders and Customs may not allow in certain items. Different countries have different rules, and you should double check to make sure you pack everything you need, but also nothing that will get you stuck at the border when you fly in. If you have international friends, they may be able to give you help in advance, otherwise, head to that country’s government travel resources to make sure you’re in the clear.

Time Zones

If you’re planning on leaving the Americas, you’re going to experience some kind of timezone jump, likely by more than just a few hours. It’s to be expected that your circadian rhythm will be thrown off by this. Plan in advance by getting extra hours of sleep and sleep on the plane right over! There’s not going to be much to see over the miles of ocean and you should take advance of this time to get in a bit of sleep.

Once you’re there, let your body tell you when you need to sleep for the first few days. Try to work your way to being awake with the sun where you are, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to switch right back when you get home. It’s better to sleep in a little and get some of the nightlife, or wake up early and see the city before most of the tourists.

Different Language

If you’re traveling internationally, it’s likely you’re headed to a nation where English isn’t the most spoken language. If that’s the case, then you need to figure out a translator situation. Whether that’s a local friend you’re visiting, a professional, or learning a few basic phrases from a English-to dictionary, you need to figure this out in advance. If you’re hiring a translator and visiting a friend, make sure you reserve time with them. Waiting too late for a professional could leave you without any options. If you want to try to translate yourself, start practicing a couple of months in advance. While you’re not going to become fluent in a month, practicing for a while will at least leave you with more time to get the basics than if you choose to practice on the plane ride over.

Picking Destinations

You are traveling to another country. Whether it’s Japan or Canada, there is still too much for you to see in one trip. People can live in a country their whole lives and still not see all of it. Don’t expect that you will! Instead, pick some sights you know you want to see and make a road map for your trip, from hotels to attractions to restaurants. This gives you a basic outline of everything you know you need to see.

Once you have the big stops planned, the little stuff is easy to fill. Ask local friends or discover it as you go. If you’re in Paris, maybe you really want to see the Louvre, but you find an amazing restaurant by your hotel you want to visit that can fill in dinner. You still get to do the thing you really wanted to do, but now you’ve also discovered something unique and local you would have otherwise missed.

Setting A Budget

Traveling international is already expensive. Don’t add on to it by leaving your wallet open-ended. Figure out how much each part of your trip will cost, including hotels, food, travel, souvenirs, and entrance fees to parks and museums. Aim high on this and remember to calculate based on the local currency, not USD. You’ll have to stop at a notary to get any bills changed if you’re not planning to pay by card, but also some places will only accept cash. Make sure you set that budget so you don’t come back in debt.

Also, remember to plan for emergencies. Have enough money set aside for a back-up flight if something happens and you miss the first or if you have to change your destination because of complications. The world is a wide and complicated and you never know, so plan ahead.

Travel In Groups

If you’re traveling anywhere you’re not familiar with, always make sure you’re traveling with others. Largely, if you get lost, at least you have a whole group of people who you’re with and can work together with to find your way back to where you need to be.

On a more somber note, and not to make anyone worried about falling into the plot of Taken, unfortunately, people all over the world take advantage of tourists, particularly young and female ones. This isn’t just with dark plots. There are plenty of stores and artists who will charge extra if they can tell you’re not local. Traveling in a group can help you avoid someone who would otherwise target your unfamiliarity with an area and leave you somewhere difficult. And when in doubt, local law enforcement is always there to help.

Transport

While most nations drive on the right side of the road, there are still widely different driving policies in other nations. So before you get your hopes about driving 100 km on the Autobahn, make sure you’d even be able to drive in another country. If you can’t, well, you’re going to need to think of some other options.

Taxis are good short term options for getting from one place to another. They usually charge by the mile, but that can pile up if you plan to travel from city to city. Another great urban option is the subway or the local public transit. Most countries have much nicer public transit than what you’d find in New York since their population is much closer together.

For long distance, consider taking the train. A lot of countries have high-quality train systems that you can take from one city to another without spending an arm and a leg. It’s also a great chance to see the countryside.

Local Cultures

International travel is a great chance to learn about other cultures, but it can also be a great chance to get embarrassed if you do something you didn’t realize is offensive in another country. Take some time either before your trip or on the plane to learn about the country you’re traveling to. Some nations may be easy, like England and Canada, but there are still different cultures between the two. Did you know in England saying “pants” can get you some stares, since pants for the British refers to your underwear and not your, as our friends across the pond would say, trousers. Don’t get embarrassed and check up on your local slang before planning a trip.

Borders & Customs

We’ve already talked a little about planning ahead for bringing things in, but also be prepared for bringing things back. Some things you may have picked up along your trip may be against US Borders & Customs rules and can get confiscated. Double check the guidelines before buying something, or you may have to end up paying postage to send your belongings home through the mail.

Also, while it may be frustrating to deal with them, remember that the people working at the borders are doing their best to keep their respective countries safe. Be patient and respectful and the process will go quickly.

Souvenirs

Picking gifts up on any trip can be dangerous, but it can be particularly so when you’re in another country. We’ve already mentioned budgets and customs, but there’s also the matter of fitting your belongings back in your suitcase. We don’t want to dissuade anyone about buying something to commemorate a trip, but remember to buy a couple of things you’ll really remember or use instead of a bunch of little nicknacks that will put you over your budget.

Parking Your Car

If you’re looking at traveling out of the country, you’re likely planning a long-term trip. And if that’s the case, then you’re also looking at paying a fortune to park in long-term parking at DIA. Save yourself the hassle and choose ParkDIA. ParkDIA is an offsite private parking lot with full 24-hour security. Only five minutes away from DIA, you’ll have your car safe and secured while you enjoy your trip. Worry less and reserve your parking spot today.

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