Some adventurous college students decide to travel international for spring break destinations for a memorable experience. You’ll learn about other cultures, eat exotic foods, and see beautiful scenery.
But traveling to another country can be a source of stress if not approached with careful planning and realistic expectations. Here are some tips for safety and CDC recommendations for international travel.
1. Make travel plans early
Traveling by plane to another country requires precise planning. Make your reservations far enough in advance to get a good price and to have plenty of time to arrange your international trip. Places like Mexico and the Caribbean fill up quickly. According to a writer in “Spring Break Travel Tips: 6 Rules For Stress-Free Travel To Popular Destinations,” on HuffingtonPost.com March 2, 2013: “Be sure to book your hotel, transit meals and activities like surfing classes and boat trips early to guarantee your spot. Everything will fill up quickly, so make an itinerary before you leave and try to lock in your plans as much as possible to avoid setbacks.”
2. Get a passport early
When traveling outside the United States, you will need a passport. And it’s not something you can just get this week. Apply for a passport a few months before you plan to travel. The post office will have application forms and many will take your passport photo there, too. If you already have a passport, make sure it won’t expire by the time of your trip. Before you leave on your trip, make a copy of your passport and store it in a place different from your passport, so you don’t lose both at the same time. And leave a copy with a friend or family member at home.
3. Get vaccinated
Nobody likes getting a shot, but nobody likes getting hepatitis or polio, either. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting….Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.” Check to see if a vaccination is recommended or required for the country you’re visiting. For example, for Mexico and the Caribbean, make sure you’re up to date on vaccinations for tetanus, typhoid, rabies, tuberculosis and hepatitis A and B.
4. Bring medication for travel illnesses
Pack your travel bag with common medication needed for travelers, such as antidiarrheal medication, anti-motion sickness, antibiotic, antihistamine, decongestant, and antifungal ointment. Also consider sunscreen, insect repellent, antibacterial hand wipes, and basic first aid supplies. Diarrhea is the most common ailment. Food in other countries may not be prepared with the hygiene you’re used to at home. Your stomach may also be adjusting to the time change, odd eating schedule, and unusual foods. Don’t forget to also bring your everyday medication for asthma, diabetes, allergies, etc. (A pro tip here is to put these medications in your carry on, in case of an emergency while traveling.)
5. Tell your credit card company you’re traveling
In “Tips for an International Spring Break” posted in StudentUniverse.com, a writer suggested: “It’s important to let your credit card companies know you’re traveling because if they see purchases abroad, they’re going to assume it’s fraud and shut off your access to your card. Even worse, if you don’t have international cell phone access then you won’t be able to call and get it reactivated.”
6. Get an electrical socket converter
Many countries, especially in Europe, have different electrical sockets, so bring a converter, also called a plug adapter. Your phone charger and other appliances will not work in foreign outlets. You can purchase an all-in-one adapter with the four most common plug types plus a surge protector for about $10-15.