International Travel Tips: Technology Tips and Questions
Do you want to be reachable?
I’ve taken quite a few trips and I’ll be honest, sometimes I just want to go off-grid. I don’t want to talk to people back home, I don’t want to Instagram, Vlog, or even write. One of the first questions I always ask myself is ‘How connected do I want to be during this trip?” If the answer is none to very little, I just use my phone when I have a WiFi connection.
If the answer is a normal amount I have to think about what I want to do with my cell phone. I currently have an unlocked Pixel 3 on the Verizon network. Which means my choices are to pay $10(ish) a day for their international coverage through Verizon, which depending on the length of the trip can be a decent sized bill (18 days in the Middle East $200), or I can buy a local SIM card wherever I’m going ($10 for 4 GB). Each option has its pros and cons. For me, it really depends on the length of the trip. Like everything else, it’s money for convenience.
Is the destination tech-friendly?
While it’s important to ask yourself if you want to be reachable, it’s equally important to find out if you can be. I’ve been to places where I’d love nothing more than to post a photo or FaceTime a friend but it wasn’t even an option. If the place you’re going makes technology irrelevant it’s best to know that going in and warn people.
International Travel Tips: Money
It’s no secret that I love credit cards because of the rewards. They’ve paid for a lot of my trips over the past few years which is why when I travel, I try to use them as much as possible. As I make using them a point of emphasis I’ve learned a few tricks.
Carry two credit cards with you
Make sure neither card has international fees
The three cards I always travel with:
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Capital One Quicksilver
Keep each card in a different place: one in your wallet (or purse) and one in your luggage. That way if a wallet gets stolen or a bag gets lost you’re not completely screwed. Tell the credit card company you’re leaving the country, where you’re going, and how long you’ll be gone.
A lot of my rules for credit cards also apply to debit cards (have 2 and keep them separate). If you don’t currently have multiple checking accounts I strongly recommend getting a second one and use it mostly for traveling.
You always want to be aware of ATM fees and what your bank charges you to take money out somewhere else. To avoid (or at least get reimbursed) I recommend The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account. I always transfer money into my Schwab account before any trip and use it as my primary account while abroad. The biggest perk is that Schwab will refund ALL ATM fees at the end of the month so you access your money without paying for it.
When it comes to money my last piece of advice is to always carry cash and take it out before you board the plane. Credit cards are great but not everywhere accepts them. ATMs can be handy, but they aren’t always nearby. Think ahead and when you take money out, and always take a little more than you think you’ll need.
International Travel Tips: Apps
I’ve been to over 45 countries and really only speak English. Google Translate has saved me on more trips than I can count. You can download languages, use the voice option, and basically translate a conversation in real time.
Everyone has Facebook. FB Messenger allows you to stay in touch easily with anyone those people whenever you have wifi or data.
I use WhatsApp to talk with most of my non-American friends. WhatsApp is an encrypted platform and like FB messenger it uses WiFi to send messages to other people who have the app. In short, it allows you to stay in touch with people from across the world.
If you’re worried about the security of WhatsApp- there are some great WhatsApp alternatives you can use.
Citymapper is the ultimate transit app. It helps you find the best route, see real-time departures, gives step by step directions, has offline maps, and gives you alerts if anything is going to be delayed.
Uber (not available in all countries)
Uber is great because you don’t have to worry about haggling with taxi drivers who speak a different language. You get picked up, dropped off, and a charge to your credit card.
App allows you to plan a trip, bookmark things of interest, and also quickly discover nearby hidden gems, travel recommendations, and book must-see things to do.
Because $1,000,000 Rupia isn’t nearly as much as it sounds and it’s really important to know how much things actually cost.
Great way to keep track of who’s paid for what and who owes who. Splitwise will keep everyone square with the fewest transactions possible.
Eventually, you’re going to need to send someone from a different country money. Transferwise makes it super easy to make sure the recipient gets exactly the amount (after conversion) they are supposed to and charges a much smaller fee than most banks.,
Traveling usually involves a lot of sitting around waiting for things to happen. Waiting is always better with music. I recommend the Pro version so you can download playlists.
If you made it this far, I feel confident that you’re finally ready knowing my international travel tips.