Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Don't Forget

As I am getting ready to leave the country for the longest period that I have ever been in a foreign country, I am going through my head trying to check and double check everything that I can. Clothes and accessories can be purchased abroad, so there is no real need to worry about forgetting your favorite pair of knee socks. Some things are harder to replace once you get there. Here are some tips to remember when you are just a few days away from departure. 

  1. Make copies of travel documents- This is very important, because your passport and visa are what make it legal for you to be there! If it gets stolen, you will have to begin the painful process of getting a new one while abroad. BUT if you make a copy of your passport and visa, and leave one with your parents and take one with you and put it in your luggage, it will make the process much easier! The better option still is to not misplace it or have it stolen! So always be aware when you are out in busy areas abroad, but also bring copies just in case. 
  2. Put travel notices on all of your cards- Credit and debit cards that is! You need to call the number on the back of any credit/debit/bank cards that you plan on taking with you. If you don't, the moment you try to swipe your card to buy that Belgian waffle the moment you step out of the airport, your card may be declined. How is your bank supposed to know you are suddenly a world traveler unless you tell them? 
  3. Make a list of emergency numbers- If you are taking an American Phone, plan on taking a talk card with you or switch your plan to international before you leave. Some cell carriers won't have any service abroad if you don't have a certain plan. Ask if you plan on using your American phone. I suggest getting a cheap pay as you go foreign phone. Perfect for staying in touch with new friends you meet and in case of emergencies. The next thing you need to do is make a list of emergency contact numbers, in case you do not have internet access or in case your phone gets stolen or broken. Some numbers you might want to have are the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (in case of lost passport), a contact for the program you are in if you are there to study, your bank/credit card numbers (in case your cards get stolen), the local emergency number, and a contact at home. 
  4. Packing liquids and meds- You can only carry on liquids under 3 oz, so plan accordingly. If you plan on taking big bottles, such as shampoo or sunscreen, a tip is to take off the top and put a piece of plastic wrap then put the lid back on. This prevents leaving through the top. The precautionary wrapping of the bottles in one or two plastic bags is always good too. Checked luggage gets thrown around, so always put fragile items more to the center, so the cushion of your clothes can protect them. Medicines in a carry on must be in original packs or bottles. Save yourself the trouble of the security man contemplating if you are a drug pusher by leaving them be! I always put my meds in my ziplock liquids bag as well. 
  5. What to wear- I know many people believe you wear sweats on the plane ride. I am not one of those people. If you are a student, and show up at the airport after a flight in leggings as pants and a frat tank, you will be judged, or at least labeled as a sloppy American. If you are cool with that, more power to you! But as it is, when packing for a long stay, you should try to wear as much and as heavy clothing as you can. For my flight I will be wearing my heavy brown boots, printed jeans, a tank, a v neck, a cardigan, leather jacket, scarf and fedora. I am comfortable in these clothes, and I will look nice one I get there! And I just saved my self a few pounds on my checked luggage- and trust me, every pound counts when packing for a semester long stay! 

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