Let me first start off with saying that I have not traveled anywhere out of country. This would be a first for my children and I, but not my husband. Well, it has been over 30 years since his international travel. With that said, traveling criteria made things a bit different.
We had a choice to renew our vows or travel to one of our dream vacations. Yes, it's obvious to see we chose to travel. It's important as a couple to discuss these decisions together and thoroughly. Everyone’s situation is different so different things apply to each Individual. This is just a quick way to jump start with planning your trip internationally.
Build a Blueprint
Build a blueprint of what you both decide together so you both have goals to work towards. When you are ready to start looking to book, put this to action at least a year in advance so there is always room for mishaps or alternatives.
Passports are the first item that needs to be cleared or there is no vacation. Period. In a variety of circumstances, you need to ensure that you give yourself time for processing and costs. You will also need to consider that we've learned passports need to be valid at least 3 months 'after' departing their country. Maybe even longer as you will need to read the fine print pertaining to your situation. You will also need to ensure you are at the right locations when renewing or applying for your passport. In my husband's case, we had to drive 2.5 hours to L.A. and then we needed to set an appointment with the Consulate of our destination that we are arriving to for his Visa. Ours was Italy, so again we had to make another trip out to LA. My kids had to renew with no special circumstances as well which was a breeze.
There are destinations all over the world that have different requirements and recommendations regarding what vaccines may be needed. I suggest to contact your primary doctor who can confirm which ones will be needed. To get some insight of what you may need, you can visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ and enter in your destination.
Set Aside A Personal Planner
Life is already busy with your normal daily activities so I highly recommend getting an organizer to keep your vacation planning intact. There is so much going on mentally that it is NOT worth the stress. It is what it is. There will be plenty to plan and ideas after ideas. Once it's placed in your planner, and set to check off in your daily schedule...you can take those sighs of relief. I find that trying to remember everything and keep a mental schedule in your head is just too much to handle. It helps you spread out things instead of stretching yourself thin.
What is your vacation going to consist of? Is it one where you will be traveling hotel to hotel, train after train, lugging your stuff everywhere you go? Do you have a lot of intended shopping? I would consider keeping it simple. Simple in the term, less is best. A small carry-on with wheels. When you are done traveling. If you want room for shopping items, then perhaps a medium sized luggage but one luggage. It would also be a good idea to make your luggage stand out to make it easier to spot at the baggage claim. Stickers all over or tying colorful ribbon on the handles.
In our situation, we booked majority of our package with AAA. We are a family of four so we have a lot of allowed storage. One check-in, one carry-on, and one handbag per person which is a typical standard but always recommend checking your airline site to ensure proper allowance. We want to pack light and keep our big check-in luggage quite empty for our shopping items. We also took into consideration to purchase zipperless luggage with TSA locks, but it's really your own preference. We took the route of flying in to our destination of Rome and booked our hotel there for about a week. We don't want to lug around our luggage. We will be sight seeing hands free. Then after our stay, we have a shuttle taking us to port our 12-day Mediterranean Cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. We get to travel to the many cities of Italy, France, and Spain. Not only does this cover the major transportation, but also lodging and meals. I can't forget the fun activities aboard as well. You don't have to worry about your luggage being dragged everywhere. Be sure to always keep your passports with you when doing a cruise. Things happen and it's better to be safe than sorry should you miss boarding your ship.
In addition to all of this, keeping your belongings safe should be key. Travelon is a wonderful company that sells anti-theft purses that are stylish! They carry some amazing travel needs to put you at ease. I like to have RFID protection which protects your credit cards and more from identity theft and fraud. You may simply purchase the sleeves if you don’t have a personal bag that has it embedded. I personally purchased both for that extra layer of protection. The purse I purchased is a messenger or crossbody style as so for my daughter. My husband has the money belt that goes under the lining of his clothes. But this will diminish a lot of the stress while being on your travel time.
Registration and Printouts
Read the fine print and be sure you register all necessary information and complete all printouts on time. Trust me, it is easy to miss printing out your documents.
There are some key things and alternatives to consider. You will need to contact your cell phone provider for the process of traveling international. They will give you the run down with rates and your options if you choose to bring your cell phone. We had chose our data (internet) to be shut off. There are options and apps you can check to allow you to restricts calls and texts that are in/outbound. International rates for both calls and texts can be quite costly. I have an Android smartphone and use an Antivirus app on my phone. Not only does this protect my phone, but it also has a feature to control my in/outbound calls and texts. if you choose not to, you may also consider purchasing a pre-paid cell phone at the place of your destination or even a Sim card. This will minimize the stress of incurred charges on your bill.
Credit Cards and Currency
In advance, you may want to contact your credit card companies to inform them that you will be traveling internationally. This will lessen the burden of you attempting to use your credit card and it being declined. It would also be a good thing to ask if they have international fees when using your credit cards out of country. You may want to also take a photo of your credit cards front and back and email it to your personal email. In the event of a lost purse or wallet, you have your information to refer to. If you use your smartphone camera, be sure to delete the trails. You will also want to get a currency exchange so that way you will have available funds immediately when you enter your destination. There are cases where only cash currency is accepted. On another note, never keep your currency all in one. Have them in separate compartments of your items. I like to call it an emergency stash.
Adapters and Electronics
You may not want to forget to pack along an adapter. If your electronic device doesn't have a volt converter, you may need an additional adapter to convert the voltage so you may use your electronics. Also, be sure to pack your SD cards and chargers. Yes, plural. More than one is better than having none.
Weather and Wardrobe
Try to grasp the weather report a few days in advance. It will help you mentally when it comes to packing your luggage. If you are uncertain of the weather, stick with basic pieces that can be layered and coordinate pieces with other outfits to switch it up. Keep the main pieces items that can be worn consecutively. A major must is comfortable shoes. Not having comfortable shoes can really drag down your vacation.
Also, bringing a small container of laundry detergent in your check-in bag will come in "very" handy.
You can go to any post office and pick up a Hold Mail request card. It will hold your mail while you are out on vacation. You specify the date of return and you have a choice to have it delivered when you return to begin redelivery or upon pick up, then your mail resume delivery regularly there after. I have not checked online to see if they have that service. If you do the card, you need to turn it in to your assigned post office or mail it with the assigned post office address.
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