Savvy Traveling

International Travel

International travel can be an exciting experience when we are invited to speak in other countries. We are often asked what to think about when traveling and speaking overseas. Here’s a quick checklist of things to consider before, during, and after your trip

Before Your Trip

  • Reach out to internationally traveled colleagues, to learn about their experience speaking and traveling in your destination countries.
  • Research the customs and the culture of your destination country. Know the appropriate dress and behavior, both for your speaking engagement and for your time off.
  • If you don’t have a passport, apply well in advance of your trip. Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return date, as well as a specific number of blank pages. Renew your passport if you need to.
  • Check out the visa requirements well in advance for the countries you’ll be visiting. Even if you can get a “visa on arrival” for a given country, often you can get your visa online ahead of time, thus reducing time standing in line when you arrive.
  • Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The U.S. Department of State STEP will send you important information about safety conditions in your destination country, and will enable you to stay in touch with the U.S. Embassy. If you decide not to enroll, at least take the embassy’s phone number.
  • Travel Insurance. Consider whether this is a wise investment for you. There are a wide variety of policies, covering things such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical costs, emergency evacuation, 24-hour traveler assistance, and more. Determine your needs, and choose a policy that meets those needs.
  • If you’ll be traveling out of the U.S. frequently, consider Global Entry. It allows expedited entry into the U.S., and can save lots of time.
  • Make physical and digital copies of your passport and visas. It’s helpful to have a photo in your cell phone as well as stored in the cloud.
  • Give your itinerary and contact numbers to key people in your life.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies with your dates and destinations so your transactions are not declined. Check on ATM fees and foreign transaction fees. If needed, consider getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Talk to your doctor about any necessary vaccinations or malaria pills for the countries you’ll be visiting. You can also check Do this early, as some require multiple doses. Have the documentation handy, as Customs might want to inspect it.
  • Take your prescriptions in their original bottles with labels.
  • Carry an international adapter and your devices’ charging cords. Bring backup chargers as you might run out of battery life on long flights that don’t offer power outlets onboard.
  • If you are planning to drive in your destination country, make sure you know the license and insurance requirements. You might need to apply for an International Driving Permit.
  • Check out the public transportation and ride sharing options.
  • Check with your cell service provider to see if you’ll have coverage in your destination country. Consider simply getting a local SIM card in your destination country, which gives you phone and data. They can be quite inexpensive.
  • Check out luggage weight restrictions, especially if you are traveling within or between destination countries on smaller airlines.
  • Download helpful travel apps to your smartphone.
  • Pack essentials in your carry-on. Make sure you have antibacterial wipes, a sweater or pashmina, headphones, chargers, earplugs, eye mask, pen for filling out customs cards, medications, your electronic devices, and your jewelry, passport, visas, insurance cards, credit cards, and cash.
  • Pack something light that is unseasonal for your destination (e.g. short-sleeved top in winter, or light jacket in hot climates). You’ll encounter unusual weather more often than you’d think. (Thanks, Rebecca Morgan, for this tip.)
  • Take a photo of the exterior of your checked bag, and of your packed suitcase. If your suitcase gets lost, you can show the airline employees the photo, and you’ll remember what’s inside. Put your name and destination in your checked bag.
  • Research whether it’s best to convert some money at home first, or if you will just do that in your destination country. Some countries only accept pristine U.S. bills, and will not exchange folded or torn notes. Have a back up plan if there is no ATM availability.
  • Download some back-up entertainment on to your device in case the inflight entertainment system goes down. You might want to have a book and some magazines as well.
  • Consider a neck or travel pillow if you’re not in first or business class.
  • Arrange for pets, plants, snow removal, and other things that need to be attended to while you’re gone.
  • If there will be no one at your home, stop mail and trash pickup, and ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things.

During Your Trip

  • Consider stimulating acupuncture points to reduce or eliminate jet lag.
  • High-quality compression socks help on really long flights.
  • To prevent blood clots on long flights, flex and point your feet often, and get up and move at least every two hours.
  • Melatonin can help get your sleeping patterns adjusted in your new time zone.
  • Bring healthy snacks for the plane. Even if you’re in first or business class, the meals are often heavier and more frequent than is optimal. If you’re in economy, you’ll be happy you brought something healthy to snack on.
  • Hydrate more than usual when on the plane.
  • It’s easy to stay in touch with folks at home using Skype or Facebook Messenger video.
  • Build in some time to explore your destination country and learn about the culture while you’re there.

After Your Trip

  • Build in “re-entry” time. Most of us do not spring back from international travel immediately if we’ve traveled through many time zones.
  • Stay aware of your body, and pay attention to any symptoms you may experience. Visit your doctor if warranted.


Ava Diamond

Ava Diamond

Keynote Speaker, Author, and Consultant at Ava Diamond International
Ava Diamond’s keynotes and workshops focus on leadership, employee engagement, and women’s success strategies. She’d love to speak on every continent. Her next book, What Great Leaders Do: How to Lead Your Team to the Best Work of their Lives will be out later this year.
Ava Diamond
Ava Diamond
Ava Diamond
Ava Diamond

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