What Should I Know About International Travel?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

International travel can be a fantastic way to explore the world, learn about new cultures or simply relax in a setting different from your home. There are things you should know before you decide to the see the world. Even if you want your journeys to be marked with the spirit of adventure, you don’t want to find out disagreeable things that you probably should have known to impair your traveling experiences.

220 volt europlug that works in most European countries.
220 volt europlug that works in most European countries.

When you’re planning to travel internationally, you’ll want to make sure you’re protecting your health. Find out if the countries you’ll visit require specific vaccinations or have any risks of diseases. If your international travel will take you mostly to third world countries for instance, you need to not only have some extra immunizations, but you also will want to make sure you observe practices that will keep from getting parasitic infections. It can be very important to know things like whether you should only drink bottled water in another country.

230 volt grounded British plug.
230 volt grounded British plug.

Another good thing to find out is what kind of currency the countries you visit use. It may be helpful to research currency exchange rates and find out where and how to exchange currency. Since prices vary around the world, it’s valuable to figure out about how much money you will need to bring for each day’s spending and what access you’ll have to use of things like credit cards or ATM machines.

Drinking only bottled water while traveling can help prevent parasitic infections.
Drinking only bottled water while traveling can help prevent parasitic infections.

International travel can teach you that basic rules and laws vary by country. Don’t wait to learn this lesson on your travels. If you plan to drive on trips, find out how driving rules may differ. Read up on countries you visit to find out if they have any unusual rules or laws that you might break unintentionally. Pay particular attention to things like quarantine laws, which may prohibit transporting certain foods from one country to another.

Cultural differences abound from one country to the next. It can help to know about how residents of a country regard people from your home country. You should also be aware of any typical behaviors you have that might be construed as rude or insulting in a foreign place. It doesn’t hurt to pay attention when you plan on international travel to things like basic words and phrases in other languages, too. If you can’t remember them, bring a good portable dictionary so you can ask people simple questions.

Any type of international travel should probably involve some research on what to visit and what to avoid. Many countries have high crime areas or places you shouldn’t visit after dark. Investigate what crime is like in the countries you visit, and whether the way you are traveling (for instance a female traveling alone) may put you at greater risk for certain crimes.

There are a few other things you should know about international travel and these include whether you need travelers’ or health insurance. Be sure to find out where to go if you need help (policy, embassy, etc) and the types of documents you need to keep with you when traveling. It can also prove of assistance to find out the typical weather patterns of foreign countries so you know what to pack. A few other things you may want to know is if you need to bring special adapters for electrical plugs and what kind of charges you can expect to pay on cellphone calls that originate from a foreign country.

Find out where to go if you need help in a foreign country, such as the location of an embassy.
Find out where to go if you need help in a foreign country, such as the location of an embassy.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - I actually don't mind international airline travel these days because the planes can be quite comfortable if you pick the right company. I'm easily entertained by the films and the video games they provide though so maybe I'm not the best judge.

Depending on where you are going, you might want to figure out when the best time to sleep is as well. If you're landing in the morning at your destination, you'll want to try and at least take a short nap.

If you sleep the day away the first day that you're there, it's not only a waste of time, it can also make it that much more difficult to get over jetlag, particularly if you are going to be crossing time zones for a while.

Get out in the sunshine and drink a lot of water, then have an early night (but not too early).


@pastanaga - Yeah, being prepared to bribe people is something that I always keep in mind when I'm traveling in certain countries. It's like an extra tax, there's no getting around it.

I don't tend to do very much booking through international travel agencies, but they are good as a go-between with insurance companies and airlines if you happen to get stuck somewhere, so it might be worth it if you are new to traveling.

I actually try to stay off planes altogether these days, but sometimes you can't avoid it.


The first and most important thing you can do is get international travel insurance. Especially if you are going somewhere like the USA or around Europe where medical care can be extremely expensive. It can also protect you if you miss a flight or something and believe me that happens all the time. You might end up stuck in traffic, or your bus might never show up when it was supposed to, or you (or your travel agent) might simply have misjudged how long it would take to get between terminals in an airport.

If it is something like a bus being stuck in traffic, see if you can get proof from the bus driver, in case the insurance company wants it. In fact, check with the company in the first place for whatever kinds of proof they need for any claim.

Remember, if you need proof of theft, for example, from the police that in some countries you might have to bribe them to get the papers you need. That sounds awful, but it's a lot easier than waiting for weeks for a simple stamp.

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