20 Tips for Your Next International Trip

This article is courtesy of our partners at Frankenmuth Insurance.

Your trip is booked, your bags are packed, and you’re ready to take off for that dream international destination. Make the most of the trip with these 20 travel tips:

1. Learn about your destination from the State Department. The State Department provides updated safety, travel, health, and embassy information for every country in the world. Before traveling, always search your destination on their website for things like:

  • Travel warnings and advisories
  • Embassy messages and alerts
  • Entry, exit and visa requirements
  • Safety and security notes
  • Local laws
  • Vaccination suggestions
  • General healthcare information
  • Travel and transportation notes
  • Lodging notes

2. Register your travel plans. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( is a free service that allows U.S. citizens to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Once you’ve enrolled, you subscribe to receive up-to-date safety and security information about your destination. It will also help the State Department reach you in case of an emergency abroad.

3. Share your plans with someone you trust. Choose an important person in your life and let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. Create a document that includes your flight numbers, hotel details, information on how someone can best reach you, and a copy of your passport and ID so that someone back home knows the details of your trip.

4. Make copies of your credit cards, passports, and IDs. You’ve designated someone at home to keep a copy of your travel documents, but you should have a copy, too. Email them to yourself, save them on your phone, and keep a paper copy in your hotel safe. That way, if you do lose anything important, you can save yourself some unnecessary stress.

5. Tell your bank you’ll be traveling. When you’re abroad, you want frozen gelato… not frozen credit cards. Make a habit of telling your bank you’ll be traveling so they can protect you against fraudulent activity and ensure you have access to funds while you’re away.

6. Store the emergency number. Emergency numbers can vary from country to country. Look them up and program these into your phone before traveling.

7. Know the embassy information. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you while you’re traveling, and make sure your trusted person back home has those details, too.

8. Find the nearest medical centers. Note the names, addresses, and phone numbers of nearby hospitals or urgent care clinics in case you need any medical attention.

9. Learn key words in the language. It’s not only fun to learn some phrases before traveling, but it can also help keep you safe. Brush up on words and phrases like:

  • Hello and goodbye
  • My name is…
  • Do you speak English?
  • My [INSERT LANGUAGE HERE] is not so good.
  • May I have…?
  • Please and thank you
  • Help/emergency
  • Please call a doctor.
  • Please call the police.
  • Please call the American embassy.

Google Translate can also be a lifesaver while abroad. You can either navigate to in your web browser or download the free app in your smartphone’s app store for even more features, such as:

  • A best-in-class voice translation feature. Someone can speak into your phone’s microphone and their speech will be transcribed into English text in real-time. It also works in reverse, translating your English speech into text in whatever language you choose.
  • A camera scanning feature. Within the app, you can use your smartphone camera to scan any foreign language text into English (such as a restaurant menu, brochure, train ticket, etc.).
  • A website translation feature.
  • A document translation feature.
  • The ability to download an entire language for use offline (without internet). Note that without internet, some advanced features may not work. If you will not have internet while abroad, make sure to download your desired language while on Wi-Fi or before your trip begins.

10. Take only the essential electronics. If you’re traveling with too much technology, you could put yourself and your devices at risk. Take only what you need. When you’re not using your devices, keep them locked away in a hotel safe. Additionally, ensure chargers are compatible with wall outlets at your destination. Check out this international travel plug adaptor guide to see if you’ll need to purchase an adaptor and/or voltage converter to safely use your electronics at your destination.

11. Arrange your phone plan. Look into your phone carrier’s international travel options. Choose the plan that’s right for you and know how to use it so there’s no disruption in service. In addition, apps like WhatsApp can help you make free calls abroad. Download necessary apps ahead of time and know how to use them.

12. Choose safer room options. If you’re able to request a hotel room, safety experts recommend staying on the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth floors. You’ll be high enough to avoid a break-in but low enough to be reached by a fire engine ladder.

13. Review your hotel’s emergency escape route. Every room should have a map on the back of the door that shows you where you are and where you should go. If you have trouble reading the language, study the emergency escape visuals, explore the hotel upon check-in, or ask the front desk for assistance.

14. Take two of the hotel’s business cards. Keep one by the phone in your room in case you need to tell someone where you are. Keep the other in your pocket or purse in case you need to tell someone where to take you. You can also take a screenshot of the hotel’s name and address and have it accessible on your phone for these scenarios.

15. Carry small amounts of cash. What happens when you lose your wallet… or worse? Instead of bringing the entire vacation budget with you, bring enough to get you through the day and keep the rest in your hotel safe. Exchange U.S. dollars for the country’s currency before you go so you have a way to pay from the moment you arrive. Typically, airports will also have currency exchange services for a fee, or you can withdraw local currency from an ATM. If you’re bringing more than one credit card, it may be a good idea to keep one in your wallet and the other(s) in the hotel safe. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you will still have backup credit cards to help get you through the rest of your trip!

16. Don’t keep things in your back pocket. It’s easy for pickpockets to take from your back pocket. Ideally, don’t carry valuables in any of your pockets, but if you must, carry them in your front pockets. Otherwise, use a cross-body purse worn in front of you or under your clothing in a cross-body pouch. If you want to be extra safe, look for an anti-pickpocket bag from a brand like Travelon or Baggallini that is slash-proof, RFID protected, and offers zipper pulls that securely clip in place.

17. Choose only the safest transportation methods. According to the World Health Organization, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens abroad. To reduce your risk, travel only in vehicles that look like they’re in good condition and offer working seat belts, and if you’re traveling in a rental, learn the driving standards before getting behind the wheel. If using a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, always make sure the vehicle description, license plate number, and driver match what is shown in your app. If something doesn’t add up or feels wrong, do not enter the car and refuse the ride.

18. Look up while walking. When you’re exploring a new city, don’t let yourself get distracted. If you’re relying on a navigation app to get you where you’re going, plug in a single earphone instead of looking down at your smartphone. Always be aware of your surroundings so you’re not approached unexpectedly.

19. Invest in travel insurance. Most travel insurance policies cover lost luggage, canceled or delayed flights, canceled trips, medical emergencies, emergency evacuations, and more.

20. Download apps ahead of time. Before you depart, download any apps you may need for location tracking, smooth communication, navigation, and more. Check out this list of apps to consider. Read about the perks of the Google Translate app above under 9. Learn key words in the local language.


Knowing and following these 20 international travel tips can help you plan, pack, and enjoy your travels with less worry and more peace of mind. For even more protection, follow our tips to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Van Wyk exists so you have peace of mind when it comes to your family, business, and employees. Check out our Personal Solutions page for more information about our risk management services, and remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn for more safety tips! Safe travels!