TRAVEL NEWS + INSPIRATION

So you are leaving the Country for the first time?




HOW EXCITING! Congratulations, you, my friend are about to have the experience of a lifetime. I personally think there is no better feeling than getting to jump into another culture where they likely will live life much different than we do in the USA, not to mention the potential for new experiences, new food, and hopefully some amazing views! These experiences are how I fell in love with traveling and became so obsessed with leaving the country as much as possible, I truly hope you will feel the same way by the time you get back home.

Now, I know with leaving the country for the first time there is a lot of excitement, but also A LOT of nerves. What do I do? How do I use my Passport? What should I expect? Do they take my money? etc. etc. You get the point, your mind just flurries with the unknown. Good news! This is a very normal feeling and one that even experienced travelers have felt or still feel on occasion!

My hope for this blog is that I can help alleviate some of the unknown and make your first experience a little bit better! Below I have listed out quite a few topics that may be rushing through your brain… read through them and then let me know if you have any further questions!


HOW DO I USE MY PASSPORT?




Did you just get your Passport and are thinking “How does this thing work?”

No worries, I have your back! It is super simple. Here are a few things you need to know regarding your passport.

  • In order to make your passport valid, you MUST HAVE A SIGNATURE. * I have heard of people not being able to enter a country because of no signature before they handed the book to Customs.

  • While we are talking about signing things in your passport, I recommend filling out your address and emergency contact in PENCIL. Why you ask? How many of us move or may need to have someone else listed in a few years? This makes it easy to change.

  • In order to keep your passport valid, it must not have damage! I would recommend getting a nice passport cover to keep your passport nice and safe! Here is my favorite off Amazon! Damaged on a passport is a broad definition… this means bent, water damage, writing, fake passport stamps, ect. They want it to be in perfect form.

  • Your Passport is your ticket back into the US, without it you are really going to struggle! So make sure you make it top priority to keep it safe- I always recommend locking it in something secure at your hotel or resort or keeping it tucked away on your body at all times. In the case that it does get stolen or lost while traveling, a helpful thing is to have full readable pictures of your passport saved on your phone and with your emergency contact back in the states. You can take this to the US Embassy and get a lot farther than having no proof of identity.







WHAT IS CUSTOMS AND WHEN DO I GO THROUGH IT?




Customs sounds like a scary thing, but you shouldn’t be too worried!

Customs is each countries control of entry. Here they will be making sure you are actually who you say you are and verifying what you are bringing into the country you arriving to. These are the guys who also give you cool passport stamps!

  • You will only go through customs when you actually enter into a new country! So if you are flying from Boise to Seattle, then Seattle to Mexico… you will only go through customs in Mexico, on the way home you will go through customs in Seattle when you enter back into the US.

  • They will ask you questions, just answer them as truthfully as you can. If you don’t understand the question, just ask for clarification this is better than saying something they don’t want to hear!

  • On the plane, before you enter the country, the flight attendants will have you fill out a customs form! Fill this out and keep it with your passport, these are collected during your visit in the Customs line. They will also give you part of the slip to keep with you through your entire trip, SAVE THESE! They are important and will be asked for when you are on your way home.

DO THEY TAKE MY MONEY?




Does the country take US Dollars?

The majority of the time NO, but they should take your cards and there are options to exchange currency in every country. Here are a few tips regarding money in other countries:

  • The airport usually has terrible exchange rates, meaning that they do not give you the full value of the money. I would Google with the daily exchange rate is for the country you are visiting and try to find a place that is close to that! Typically banks and sometimes local businesses will have the best rate, but you can also exchange at your resort and probably get a fair rate.

  • Calculating the exchange rate. When you find out what the exchange rate is, that number will be equal to 1 US Dollar. So for example, today the exchange rate for a Mexican Peso is 18. So if the item I want to buy is 200 pesos, I would divide that by 18 in order to get the US dollar amount. In this case, it would be about $11.

  • Only take your credit cards to other countries. Our credit cards have high levels of security and protection- if someone steals your card or gets ahold of the number in the other country- they will only be able to take hypothetical money vs the money in your bank account that you need for daily life and it will be much easier to dispute.

  • Bring MULTIPLE Cards on vacation. I believe this is good practice because you never know if you will have one get stolen, lost ect. and you will want to make sure you have what you need to continue on to home and to have fun! Along with this, I always suggest keeping one of the cards (and your passport) in your hotel room in a safe or in a bag that you are not carrying around everywhere.

WHAT CAN or SHOULD I BRING ON THE PLANE?




This is always a loaded question! HA. Depends on the length and where you are going but here are a few ideas:

  • A neck pillow/ blanket to make you comfortable

  • Sleeping aide (These are my lifesaver for longer flights over 8 hours)

  • Snacks! Yes, you can pack food on the plane, just no liquids, and make sure to eat any produce before you arrive in the next country to avoid any conflicts.

  • Water bottle. You know the no liquids from above? you can pack an empty water bottle and refill in the airports to have with you for hydration during flights.

  • Headphones/ earplugs. We can’t control our surroundings on the plane, I always recommend packing some sort of noise-canceling option!

  • Chargers. We have officially made it to the 20th century. A large majority of planes now have plug-ins so that you can charge your devices.

WHAT IMPORTANT THINGS SHOULD I PACK?




There are a lot of things you will bring on vacation but some things that you may not think that you need are:

  • Medications: Ibuprofen, Tums, your daily meds, allergy meds etc. Depending on the country you go to, these items may be hard to find and potentially labeled in a different language or not have the same brands we do, which makes it hard to figure out what is what!

  • The proper outlet connector! Depending on the country, some outlets will not work with your plugins and you will need a converter!

I CAN’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE, WHAT SHOULD I DO?




Don’t panic! Most people can’t speak the language of the country they are traveling too! You’ll be FINE! Tips and tricks to get by:

  • The English speaking are lucky, it is the most known language in the world. A ton of other countries teach English in their schools and some locals will be bilingual. *Expert tip, do not expect or demand they speak English to you- some locals are very turned off by this. So be thankful if they help translate or speak English to you!

  • Try to learn a few keywords before you head to your destination. These are important for moments of desperation. Also, don’t be afraid to point and use body language to express your needs.

  • Google Translate App is the best thing ever! You can talk into the app and it will translate in the language you select (perfect for conversation) or you can hover over images with your phone camera and it will translate the words for you (perfect for menu or sign reading).

Happy Country Hopping!

XOXO,

Paige


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