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8 Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad

By the time you're reading this, we will have landed in London, dropped off our bags at our Air BNB, and kicked off our first day across the pond! This trip has been one of the few that I've taken in the last few years that has actually been planned for over a month before leaving. My family plans trips in advance, but never actually books flights or hotels (or makes any concrete plans...!)  until a week or two before departure- so stressful, haha. I am so glad I had enough time to get prepared to leave the country for this trip, though! I have been to Europe twice before, but this is the first time I'm coming "alone" (I'm here with my best friend, Lauren!) and there are so many things we had to get in order before leaving.

PASSPORTS // Luckily both of us have been to Europe before, so dealing with getting passports was a non-issue. The first time I went to Europe( my junior year of high school) we realized far too late that my passport had expired and we had to go through the expedited process which was not fun and really stressful. This time around all I had to do was pull it out of my desk drawer and remember to bring it!

FOREIGN CURRENCY // When it comes to getting currency, London is on the pound and not the euro. This is a little inconvenient just because the pound is so strong, so it's often harder to find an exchange that won't rip you off. I had to take a trip to both of my banks on Monday to make sure they knew I was heading out of the country so I can use my card over there and to get some cash for when we first arrive. After I initially run out of cash and don't want to make more credit/debit card transactions, we learned that it is best to get just get cash from an ATM because the ATM fees will be insignificant compared to a poor exchange rate!

DATA // Every phone carrier is different, but don't forget to give them a call to find out your options for using data abroad! I was surprised that my carrier, Sprint, offers slow data roaming at no extra cost, and I believe most other carriers offer similar plans for international travelers. It's not too expensive, often, to buy a week of fast LTE international data, either. I think it was just around $40 for the week for me!

CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS // There are a few items I packed in my carry-on this trip that I don't usually need when I'm taking a short/domestic flight. First up: lots of snacks. Lauren and I love traveling together because we eat pretty much all of the same food and have the same eating habits. To survive a long international flight and to avoid spending unnecessary money in the airport, we stocked up on lots of snacks for the airplane! In addition, I packed an eye mask, big headphones, and a travel neck pillow so that I could more comfortably fall asleep on the plane. Usually I just bring earbuds and I can skip the pillow and sleep mask all together.

OUTLET CONVERTERS // This is self explanatory, but don't forget that the outlets in other countries are not the same! You can find inexpensive outlet/power convertors on Amazon.

TRANSPORTATION // So... we didn't exactly get this one done in time. London's tube is so easy to use and it truly is a great way to get around the city inexpensively. They offer "oyster cards" for visitors, which is a card that conveniently can be loaded up with money and shipped to your house before you leave for your trip. We looked into this too late and could no longer order the cards in time, but you can still buy them in the tube stations once you're there.

PLANS // Like anyone, I love making a good itinerary for a trip, but I seldom follow any sort of plan once I arrive. However, when traveling somewhere far away and during a very busy time of year (we will be there over Easter!) it is essential to at least plan out a general idea of what to do each day and to make a couple reservations throughout the trip. If you don't, you're more likely to waste time trying to figure out what to do and you will miss things or not end up going to places you wish you would have. We have cocktail reservations a couple of nights, a brunch reservation with a high school friend studying abroad, and a bottomless brunch reservation on Easter! We have spent so much time on Instagram and online in general researching the cutest and best places to go, so I can't wait to share recaps when we return!!

CHECK THE WEATHER // This one is so important!! Since we planned our trip, the expected weather for this week in London has changed so much. Originally it was supposed to be sunny most days and mid-50s. Unexpectedly, it actually has been snowing for the first time in years these last few weeks, so we are heading to a 40 degree and rainy city this spring break ;)

What are your travel tips?

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