1st Time International Traveler Starter Kit….

Before you go jetsetting across the world this summer lets go over our checklist and make sure we are truly equipped with must have essential neccessities to take the world by storm.

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I learned the hard way on my first international trip that you must purchase a converter. A universal converter is any cellphone owners best kept secret. It is interchangeable across the globe including in North America. It was definitely a shock to know something so simple could be over looked to research. I learned they can be purchased at your local stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Or Ross. However, you could probably catch a steal on www. Amazon.com. I myself had one gifted to me recently from a Bodega in Spain by one of my new friends from Philly that tripped with us. Imagine 4 converters to a house of 16. Yes,most of us all failed travel 101 when it came to this important part of our day, pics and conversation with loved ones. However, I recovered when I brought along my daughter’s universal multi-use sprint charger. It holds two USB charger portals, a electrical socket portal, and a car charger portal. It was a hit for our house to be able to charge two at once  during taxi rides, in between airport connections, or eating out at restaurants. Another big deal is making sure you contact your provider to change over to an international plan while you are away. I am with sprint network and it was a lateral transition to do so, there was no extra cost incurred to my plan other than the $.20 a minute on each call. I data and text for free. After listening  to some others discuss their travel communication plans, I felt Sprint’s international rates were the very competitive out of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

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The infamous converter.

I highly recommend downloading the free Whats app through your preferred providers app store . It is the most international friendly app to communicate hands down. Some of us lived for 7 days in the mountains of Spain with limited service until we reached the city each day. The only means of communication at times with loved ones or friends was through the Whats app. The app only requires a strong wifi connection. The calls made via what’s app were free of charge and text sent were free as well through this app. The free data on my international plan with sprint helped me talk, text and send pictures back home for free while using the app. Although Sprint and I were on the outs for sometimes this has turned our relationship half way around to a love hate relationship. The important piece to not forget is to make sure you inform your loved ones to download and get familiar with what’s app before leaving.

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Whatever you do, keep an eye on the foreign exchange rate. When I last checked  before boarding the plane from NEe York the rates were $ 1.00 United States dollar  to € .91 European dollar. It’s important when purchasing over seas that you allow the purchase to process as Euros also. Using Euros versus U.S. Dollars at the end of a credit or debit purchase allows  your own financial institution to convert the money for you rather than the merchant, it’s supposedly more costs effective this way. You need to know what your money is buying, what fees are being charged when buying, and what ways you can avoid fees. Call your banks to inquire. Put your bank and credit card providers on notice that you are leaving the country or state. I learned that if you have a chip on your cards it is automatically universal so no notice is needed. I would suggest calling to confirm that piece of information is correct with your financial institutions. I went to my bank on a Tuesday and said, “I’ll be traveling on Friday out of the country I wanted to order Euros.” Well,  I was sadly shot down. I missed the cut off by a day to process my request. There is a 3-4 day turn around time to get money exchanged with my financial institution. I was encouraged to go to withdraw money in the states and walk into a bank in Spain to convert my money instead or use the airport exchange kiosk/ATM machines. Therefore, I traveled to Spain without Euros because we were pressed for time in every airport. Once again my travel group did not disappoint, most of the sensational 16 scrambled at the beginning with my same issue but it made it all the more enjoyable because the memories we created doing it. It became an ongoing joke that our most commonly used phrase on our Trip is “who got Euro’s?” Lol! On day two we found our way into the city and we all became official foreigners at a trusted ATM machine. It was such a relief to no longer feel like you are a looser for not being well prepared. Lol!

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I spotted this little envelop sling purse at http://www.forever21.om. I had to have her. She came in a couple of other colors as well. Sling bags are the most convenient and travel friendly style purses one could carry next to a fanny pack. It can be stored in front of you and you are left hands/arm free.  I loved my choice and it was very cost effective. The cost of my bag choice, I believe is $16.

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A nice pair of sunnies are a must, I think I took a ton to Spain with me.  You will fit right in. I believe it negates you from looking so much like a tourist because people can’t see your eyes wondering. Lol! I purchased the shaded pictured above from a local gift shop in downtown Ibiza for € 9,99 euros.

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Lastly but most importantly, apply for your passport in a timely manner. I say this to ensure there are no unfortunate hiccups getting in your way. Apply for your passport or renewal of your passport as soon as the conversation begins about traveling. This is the most crucial piece so take it serious. The early bird gets the worm. Applying early helps you research best, confirm what the process entail, and provide enough time to gather documents to move in the application process. For example, I learned that to travel to China you must also request a Visa from the U.S. Embassy on top of having a passport. Personally I vowed I would never get a passport without getting my child one. So I waited until my daughter was old enough to apply without needing consent from both parents and we went forward with the process. I didn’t want her dad to think I would take her and never come back. His woes not mine. There was no vacation in the works when I decided to get my passport. I did it because I knew in my heart I wanted to travel the world one day soon.

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To travel is fun but there is so much attention to detail it requires to have a successful trip. I know we all want bragging rights to do it but be careful with uploading your boarding passes to social media. I have not personally confirmed but several articles have been circulating social media that the numbers at the bottom of the boarding passes contain important personal information. So make sure you shred all documents that are no longer useful after you return. I would like to add researching the language, laws, and  things to do is helpful as well. It can best help by seeking out friends, coworkers, or family that are natives of the places you may travel to or may have vacationed to. good tips. Their tips would probably be most realistic. To travel is taking time to unplug from life and recharging the mind body and soul to begin anew outlook on the journey ahead so don’t forget to take in the experience one breathe at a time.

 

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