People ask us all the time for tricks and tips to traveling internationally. I figured it was about time to put all our recommendations into one comprehensive blog post. Read on for our guide to preparing for a trip abroad.
What to Do Before You Leave
Get all your spa appointments out of the way before you leave. This includes: spray tans, facials, manicures, haircuts, waxing, etc. I love feeling my best before any big trip, so this is the time to splurge on some you time. I recommend making a hair appointment a week before your trip, to get it out of the way. Get a facial two or 3 days before. I think this is the best timing because it’s still close to when you leave, but not too close, i.e. a day before or the same day, so your skin isn’t sensitive or recovering from the facial treatments on the long flight. I recently got an amazing facial at Skin Spa New York in the Back Bay right before my trip to Asia and my skin is glowy and photo ready (As I’m sure you can see in my IG stories!).
I also treated myself to one of their signature massages to help me unwind from all the hustle and bustle of planning a month-long trip! And then finally, a day before or the same day get your nails done, any waxing you want to do and your spray tan if you want that sunkissed glow. You’ll want to do all these appointments as close to when you leave so that they have the longest effect while you’re away.
How to Pack
The number of outfits you’ll need obviously depends on where you are going and for how long. I try to travel as light as possible, so I try to stick to only a carry on if the trip is 4 days or less (any time of the year) or a week or less (in the summer, since I won’t need any bulky jackets). Regardless, be sure to double check the carry on and checked baggage allowance limits for your airline. Beware that airlines abroad are typically a lot stricter than airlines in the US so plan on sticking to the limit or paying an overage fee.
What to Do About Your Electronics
Most new electronics (iPhones, cameras, laptops) work worldwide 100-240V, so we only bring a power adapter not a converter. The only items that mostly remain region dependent are appliances like hairdryers/curlers/straighteners (even with a proper converter 220 to 110 they never work properly). We’ve stopped bringing them because I’ve fried a couple sets and hotels normally have them for you to borrow.
For using your U.S. data plans abroad, we would recommend either the AT&T International Day Pass, Verizon TravelPass, or T-Mobile One. We actually used our U.S. SIM cards the last time we were in Switzerland (they had great cell service). Both Day Pass and TravelPass are billed when you turn on data abroad, and once started is $10 for a 24 hour period (per device). We only turned our data on for a couple days when we absolutely needed it and tracked the 24-hour time period to ensure we went back on airplane mode. When we had data, we were able to FaceTime and call home as if we were in the U.S. If you have a T-Mobile plan, international data doesn’t cost you anything, with your internet speeds depending on your plan.
For extended stays, we buy local SIM cards. In Europe we have used Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, and Wind. Buying a SIM card in Europe is great because plans work throughout the European Union (although not in Switzerland which is why we used our U.S. data), so it makes border crossings easy. If your phone/device is locked to your U.S. carrier, you can also purchase a mobile hotspot unit. Finding local Wi-Fi in general is pretty easy at most places, and at worst we know we can always turn our phone data on and pay a little more. We would recommend at least adding an international plan to ones domestic account / make it the default international data plan (otherwise the carriers charge per usage at much higher rates).
Last, we always download offline Google Maps before we leave. It’s nice that even if you lose cell service or are on airplane mode, the GPS and maps still work showing you where you are. Here’s a great link on how to download offline maps.
Below is our essential tech travel kit:
- AmazonBasics Nylon Braided Lightning to USB – We love the 6-foot cord length so we can reach outlets in the airport or charge our phone in the kitchen when we’re home. The braided cord is durable and has traveled far with us!
- Anker PowerCore 10,00mAh Portable Charger – This power bank is our backup power source. It can charge an iPhone from dead several times and is always in our bag.
- Apple International Adapter Kit – We bring one of these adapters with us to use with the Apple cube, works for only the bigger cubes (not the small iPhone only cubes, must be from an iPad or laptop with the removable prongs).
- Smooth Trip International Power Adapter Travel Cube – We actually found this adapter in a hotel and have used it ever since. It is great for when we fly through London to Europe because it has both adapters inside, USB ports on the side, and normal small iPhone chargers can plug right in the front.
Travel Day Tips
In Boston we are fortunate to have several affordable and fast options to get to the airport. Taxis/Ubers from downtown are usually between $10-$20, the Silver Line leaves frequently from South Station, and the Blue Line (our favorite option) takes you right to Logan in the middle of rush hour.
Always check in online (if possible) to save time, make sure your bags are the following the weight rules, and take everything out of your pockets before heading to security.
And if you are traveling abroad, consider upgrading to business class if you really want to arrive feeling rested and ready for adventure! Not only will you get a lie flat bed on most airlines, but any of the international carriers will also have a departure lounge that you can enjoy before your flight as well. We love the British Airways Lounge in Terminal E. They serve a full dinner before all their nighttime flights, have plenty of relaxing spaces to enjoy before boarding, and a beautiful bar in the back where you can take in the view and enjoy a craft cocktail. Happy Travels!
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