How to Prepare for International Travel

This winter my co-blogger and I decided we had enough of the cold New England weather, and started planning our next adventure to the far-away country of Thailand. It wont come as a shock that traveling overseas takes a lot of planning, and this post is going to lay out how the Kaielley duo planned out our own Thailand excursion, from start to finish. If anyone has any tips or advice that they would like to add to this post feel free to do so, and stay tuned for some posts about our upcoming adventure!

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  1. Acquire a passport:

Getting a passport is easy and painless if you know how to go about it.

  • First, you need a passport photo. The easiest way to get your photo is to go to your local CVS or drug store and ask the clerk at the photo center for one. It doesn’t cost more than about $12
  • Next, you need the forms to fill out for your passport. I’m only aware of these forms being available at post offices and online at the state website here. Fill out the forms
  • You will also need your birth certificate and a photo ID. The state department will mail your birth certificate back to you when they are done with it and the clerks at the post office will make a copy of your ID to submit.
  • Once you have what you need you can bring it to your local post office for submission. When I applied it cost $110 for the state department (in the form of a money order) and a $25 processing fee which can be paid in cash.

You’ll usually receive your passport within 4 weeks.

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2. Decide on your destination.

When deciding on where to travel you should keep in mind the time of year you are traveling and your budget. In our case, we are traveling to Thailand during winter so we will experience mild weather; we have a strict budget and know that the US dollar can be stretched much farther in Thailand than in most other countries. Find out what the weather is going to be like in your destination at the time of your trip and plan accordingly. For my fellow budget-travelers, here is a link to a blog post about some of the least expensive countries to make your next journey to.

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Another important subject to keep in mind when deciding on a destination is current events. Look online to find out how stable/conflicted your destination is to decide on whether it is considered a safe destination for travel. The state department website is a good source for this kind of information.

Once you decide on a destination call you insurance provider and they will let you know how you are covered there and what to do if you need medical help

3. Plan your budget.

  • First, figure out the general cost of travel to your destination, whether it is by plane, boat, or automobile.
  • Next do your research to find out how much accommodations will cost you. Be aware that the price of a room during one time of year can vary greatly from another. Budget-travelers can generally find cheap accommodations at hostels or airbnbs.

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  • You should also figure out how much it is going to cost you on a day-to-day basis in expenses. My feelings are that the best way to do that is to read blog posts of other travelers who have been to your destination and see what they have to say on the matter. Here is a link to the blog post by Nomadic Matt we read to get an idea of how much we will have to spend a day in Thailand.
  • Check out some credit cards and apply for one with no foreign transaction fees

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4. Choose your flight.

When choosing a flight its best to keep these things in mind:

  • Its usually cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Thursday and during off-hours
  • Round-trip tickets are usually cheaper than booking departure and return tickets separately
  • Be flexible on your airports because some airports are cheaper to fly out of/in to than others. In our case we found that Bangkok was the cheapest area of Thailand to fly into.
  • Its generally less stressful to stick to a single airline but can be much cheaper to fly multiple airlines. Just be sure there is enough time between flights to make your next one and be aware that different airlines have different regulations/rules.
  • It’s not cheaper to wait until the last minute to book your flight. The usual trick is that it is cheapest about 6 weeks before your departure to book.

5. Plan an itinerary.

Depending on your personality that could mean just a general itinerary or a day by day plan. We have kept our itinerary very loose so that we can spend time in whichever places we find we like best but we have also planned out certain activities, like a visit to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai!

Image result for elephant nature park thailand source

Its a good idea to give your family/friends a copy of your itinerary just in case. We have the ability to keep our plans loose because we are only staying in hostels which you can usually just walk into and get a room but that isn’t always the case with hotels so just keep that in mind. Find out what kind of accommodations are available in the places you intend to visit to know whether or not you will have to do a bit more planning.

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6. Decide what and how to pack.

Find out whether you will need sunblock and bug-spray or a winter jacket and snow boots. If you will be traveling to many different locations its best to pack light with just the essentials. In some places a rolling suitcase isn’t a good idea and you should think of using a large hiking backpack instead.

7. Other things to keep in mind

  • plan how you will get from the airport to your hostel/hotel
  • learn a few useful phrases in the local language
  • learn about the local culture and laws and what is considered rude/polite behavior
  • write down what numbers to call if you are in need of help
  • learn about local public transport because it is often much cheaper than taxis
  • have a photocopy of your passport that you can carry around with you while keeping the actual passport safely in your hotel.
  • always have a pen on hand, especially for the plan ride over .

These are just somethings to keep in mind when planning your trip. If anyone has any corrections or tips to add feel free to do so!

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