Thursday, June 6, 2013

Overseas Travel Tips

I've traveled internationally, but until a few weeks ago, I'd never traveled to Europe or overseas. I was nervous about a variety of things. I searched the internet for anything I could find about travel tips and things to know. I found very little, so I wanted to put something together for you. I am by no means an expert, but here are a few things that I learned after 11 days traveling in France.
The first thing I was concerned with was jet lag! A seasoned traveler recommended a homeopathic remedy called No Jet Lag. I bought it at Vitamin Shoppe near our home. It's a small pill that you begin taking 2 hours before you take off and continue taking every few hours until you land. I took it the whole way to Paris and although I was tired, I didn't have any trouble getting on Paris time when we arrived. We arrived (after 2 plans, a few layovers, a 4 hour bus ride, and a long walk dragging my suitcase) at our final destination around 7pm. We got settled, ate dinner, went to prayers, showered, and went to bed. It was easy to go to sleep, but I did use earplugs and Tylenol PM. When I woke up in the morning I felt normal. No jet lag at all. I cannot say that the trip back was as easy, but I think it was as good as it could possibly be. I would definitely recommend No Jet Lag if you're traveling even just a few time zones away. There were zero side effects and it doesn't not interact with any other medications.
Arriving in Paris after 16 hours of travel with 6 hours left to go!

If you've traveled internationally you know that the outlet situation is a concern. I'm thankful that I have curly hair so a hairdryer or curling iron wasn't a huge deal for me. My computer and phone were important and Jarrod needed his kindle and phone charged. We bought a basic converter and adapter for the trip, but actually didn't use it much. Because our phones didn't have service, they held a charge for 3 days or so. After that, we used the New Trent: Easypak NT70T. I actually won this exact charger just a week or so before I left for the trip. (Thanks, Candy!) This charger could charge my iphone in about an hour from 2% to fully charged. And that only used about 1/4 of the charge. Meaning I could charge my phone 4 times before the battery died. Amazing! It also charged Jarrod's droid phone and his kindle. Amazing! The charger was charged by plugging into a USB outlet (which many of the outlets in France had) or my computer. In the future, we'll probably invest in a converter/adapter with a USB connector. If you're traveling and will be without a phone charger, I highly recommend the New Trent: Easypak NT70T! (Yes, I received the charger for free, but it was because I won a giveaway, not to review on this blog. I'm writing about it because it was awesome.)

I have told you have all how much I adore my GPS. If I could have used a GPS in Paris, I would have. But we traveled mostly by Metro and I'm not the best at navigating the Metro. Thankfully, one of our friends downloaded the Ulmon Paris Maps before we left. Ulmon has maps for Paris, London, Rome, and New York City. The app was free and didn't use data or minutes. It was literally like getting into the map because it tracked where you were using cell towers. We could plug in an address and follow the dots on the map right to where we needed to be. Honestly, we would have been completely lost without it. Downloading this app should be mandatory before leaving the country. Seriously.

Those are the big things I learned. Of course there are other things I would want you to know if traveling internationally or across our country. Here they are:
  1. Bring anti-bacterial gel.
  2. Wear comfy clothing.
  3. Contact your bank and let them know you will be traveling so that they know and don't put a fraud victim report on your account.
  4. Figure out if your phone will work - mine did and Jarrod's didn't - and make sure you know how much it will cost to use it. 
  5. Buy a metro pass, museum passes, etc. if you plan on using them. It's a great way to save money.
  6. Exchange currency at least a week in advance with your bank. Our bank didn't have any Euros because we waited until just a few days before we left. We exchanged them at the airport, but paid a service fee higher than we would have at the bank. We also used our debit card at restaurants and to get cash, but again paid service fees. 
  7. Check the weather. 
  8. Bring necessary medicine. Not just prescriptions (that you should pack in your carry-on!) but also any over-the-counter stuff you use regularly. France is a very homeopathic place and we couldn't get anything like Dayquil for Jarrod when he was sick. If we'd packed it we could have saved a lot of time, money, and at least a day of feeling bad for Jarrod.
  9. Carry your money close to you. Either keep it in your front pockets or have a special pack you can strap to your body. I put money in my front pockets and in the bottom of my purse. I carried a purse that I could put across my body and keep very close to me. Jarrod and I also split money and didn't both carry debit cards at the same time. We kept our passports and everything but one debit card in the hotel safe.
  10. Walk, bike, and take a tour. We took a bike tour and it was worth every Euro we paid for it! 
Have you traveled internationally or across country? What are some tips you'd add to my list?
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