1. Make Sure Documents and Cards Aren’t Close to Expiration
The more prepared you are, the better! Start by creating a checklist to ensure you don’t head out without important items. All documents should be renewed well in advance of your travels. Companies are usually pretty ahead of time in sending updated cards, you should definitely make a quick check while packing to ensure you have all of valid identification, credit cards, and documents you will need. You wouldn’t want to realize your new card hasn’t arrived when expiration occurs while you’re overseas! Also, it is a good idea to inform your credit card company and bank of your upcoming travels, this way, any credit or debit cards you use while traveling won’t be flagged or frozen from “unusual” activity.
2. Pack Only What You Need
Savvy travelers know that packing light is the way to go. Now, packing light doesn’t mean packing one set of clothes and re-wearing them day after day, but if your destination hotel has a laundry area, you should consider using it midway through your trip to cut down on the packing. It is also a good idea to bring mix-and-match items that create new bold looks with fewer pieces. Consider items that are wrinkle-free or lightweight knits and remember that changing accessories can often create a whole different outfit.
*Consider a translation app or paperback dictionary if unfamiliar with the language, and always plan for your destination weather. Pack a pair of flats or casual dress shoes, and wear your heavier shoes or boots through the airport.
3. Arrive Early, and Check the Monitors Regularly
You should always arrive early for international trips and most airports recommend you be there three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Remember to have your cards and documents in a secure pouch, so you will have ready access without the worry of dropped pieces. Keep a phone charger with you, and always have a bottle of water handy. I’ve learned I’ll never be thirstier than when I’m waiting for service so keeping a pre-purchased bottle with me helps gets me through.
Sign up for airline notifications on your smartphone but do remember that glitches can happen. In-person observation is always the safest way to keep tabs on your journey. You should read the departure monitors from time to time and check that your plane hasn’t changed gates or departure times unexpectedly. Alerts over the speakers can get monotonous and there’s nothing quite like being jarred out of your thoughts to hear your gate has changed and is “now boarding!”
4. Use Your Flight Time Effectively
Before you settle into your seat, set out items you’ll want to use during the trip to ensure easy access during the flight. You can take a well-deserved nap, catch up on your favorite novel (writing or reading), watch a movie, or simply just sit back, relax, and enjoy the sound of the flight. I often put on a movie after knocking out some work; then pull the laptop back out after the movie. It helps me not get burned out, but I’m also making the most of my environment.
Many airlines also offer amenity kits, which may include toiletries, high-quality skin products, blankets, eye masks, shoe horns, pajamas or socks. Take advantage of them. It feels great to freshen up just before landing, especially after a long international flight.
Last but not least, the ultimate hassle-free tip for international travel is to simply relax! Enjoy yourself! Breathe in the sights, sounds, and smells and celebrate life as it is in another country!