If you are planning an international trip in the near future, consider these travel tips from Laurette Micaletti, a Chicago-based attorney and travel enthusiast.
- Check your passport to make sure it’s still valid. Some countries have rules that allow for refusal of entry for visitors whose passports are due to expire within six months. If you need to renew your passport quickly, don’t worry. There are options that allow you to renew in as little as 24 hours, but there are strict rules—and
it will cost you.
- Check with your destination’s embassy or consulate to see if you will need a visa. Most countries don’t require a tourist visa, but the ones that do sometimes offer a discount for getting the visa prior to arrival in that country. If you are traveling for work, this is extremely important because almost every country requires a work visa (depending on the type of work you do), and they can take weeks to process.
- While you’re in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. Check the U.S. State Department’s website for information on the countries you will visit.
- Pack all of your valuables and a fresh change of clothes in your carry-on luggage so that your valuable items are protected and you have some clothes to get you by in case your luggage gets lost. Loss of or damage to checked baggage is often not covered by airlines’
contracts of carriage.
- Don’t be afraid to complain if there are issues with your accommodations. Just make sure you complain in a timely fashion and speak to the right person (usually, it’s the general manager). If you suggest something they can do to ameliorate the situation, they are generally willing to accommodate you.
- If you want good recommendations on restaurants and fun places to visit, talk to the concierge at your hotel. They know all of the good places and usually have connections to get you in—take advantage of this resource.
- Make sure to wander off the beaten path. I’ve found some of the best places in cities I’ve visited simply by wandering around, outside the touristy sections. I recommend speaking to the concierge or doing research on the area beforehand so that you can avoid any dangerous areas.
- Use ATMs to obtain local currency rather than exchanging your money. Although there are fees associated with ATMs, they will usually give you a better exchange rate and you can minimize these fees by making fewer (but larger) withdrawals.
- Don’t overtip. Ask a local what an appropriate amount to tip is, but generally, if a service fee is not included, 5–10 percent is sufficient.
- When dining out, order the local specialties. This will get you the best quality for the price.