We all know the standard travel advice that every seasoned traveler recommends. I won’t bore you with a regurgitation of them. But there are a few overlooked suggestions that can really improve your overall travel experience. With my upcoming adventure trip to Hungary, now seems like the perfect time to revisit these tips!
Make sure the country you are visiting takes your credit card
Believe it or not, not every country takes every type of credit card. Though Visa and Mastercard are quite common in many countries, American Express and Discover can be hit or miss. I recently found this out as I was booking travel with my Discover card and hit a roadblock. Incidentally, it was booking my flights through Turkish Airlines that signaled the problem. I realized when the airline wouldn’t accept my card that this might be an issue during other parts of my trip, and my worries were confirmed when I did a little research into credit card use in Hungary. Fortunately, I discovered this issue before traveling with that card, or I would have been in trouble! Make sure you research each country you are visiting and be prepared to carry a couple of credit cards just in case.
Don’t miss out on credit card rewards
While we are on the subject of credit cards, it’s safe to say that not all credit cards are created equally. I won’t go too deep into this tip because the value of travel-focused credit cards has been written about at great length. However, it is worth repeating that the points you receive on several of the credit cards are very important. If you truly love to travel and want to save some money on it, getting the right card and using it the right way is invaluable. The best rule of thumb is to use your credit card as often as you can when you aren’t traveling so you can build points as quickly as possible. I’m not advocating improper or over-usage of credit cards — only saying that if you use them for things like monthly utility bills and groceries, and methodically pay them off, you can quickly earn enough points to buy your next international flight.
Take clothing and items you aren’t afraid to lose
Whether it’s the risk of lost luggage or the desire to travel light, being willing to lose items and clothing on a trip is very important. Too often, travelers take valuable or loved possessions along on trips that end up not making it back home. When packing your bags, it’s important to look at each item and ask yourself “will I be OK with losing this item?” As a general rule, I never take anything with me that I’d be devastated to lose. This helps keep the memory of the trip as positive as possible! In many instances, I actually take clothes with me that I plan to leave behind. For example, if I’m on an adventure run and my socks/shirt/shorts get extremely muddy or wet, I might choose to ditch them rather than put them back in my bag with clean clothing. This allows me to cut weight as I’m finishing the trip, something that helps out if I’m tired or sore from my adventure.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
Plain and simple — things happen. Flights get canceled, companions get sick, events get delayed, and baggage gets lost. Having travel insurance is important for mitigating these unexpected occurrences. There are many options for good insurance, including some through your travel-focused credit card mentioned above. The key is to get the right one that makes sense for the type of trip you’re taking. Benefits can vary between each plan, so it’s important to read the fine print when selecting. Unless you live your life with a Russian Roulette mentality, getting travel insurance almost always makes sense for your trips!
Make sure you have a visa for your long layovers
You’ve booked your international flights to include a long layover in a city you’re excited to explore. You have 15 hours to cram in the sights/sounds/tastes of a new culture. You land at the airport of your layover destination only to realize, thanks to a rather unfriendly customs officer, that you didn’t get a visa for that country and now you’re stuck sitting in the airport looking out the windows at a destination you can’t reach. This scenario happens all the time to travelers! It’s especially common if your main trip destination doesn’t require a visa. Without that being a top-of-mind item to check off during travel prep, it’s perfectly understandable to let it slip when thinking about your layover. So, don’t let it happen to you! When planning your trip abroad, always think about every country you will be in and what steps you need to take to be there.