How to Plan for Your Overseas Vacation

I recently had the opportunity to backpack through Europe with my best friend from college. In an effort to prove my worried family wrong (we may have watched “Taken” too many times), I compiled a list of everything we would need for our trip overseas, from our passport to an extra hair dryer.

If it’s your first time traveling abroad, don’t worry. Follow these tips and you’ll be ready for anything.

Order your passport early. You’ll need it to get out of the country. If you don’t have one already, be sure to order it at least a month or two before your trip. According to the U.S. Passports & International Travel website, it can take up to three weeks to get your passport.

Make a travel itinerary. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Our itinerary listed train schedules, flight times and which cities we planned on visiting. Beneath each day was a list of restaurants recommended by TripAdvisor and the other things we wanted to do. Having a plan of what you’d like to see or eat that day will allow you to save time and make the most of your trip.

Bring a suitcase that’s easy to carry. Be prepared to take your luggage with you wherever you go. Having a suitcase that either doubles as a backpack or has some sort of strap or wheels is going to save your back a lot of pain.

Consider purchasing an international phone plan. This isn’t a necessity, but having unlimited texting and enough data to use our mobile maps when we were lost sure came in handy. We would have wasted so much time if we hadn’t been able to easily navigate to our must-see sites. Depending on your phone carrier, international plans can range from a flat fee of $30 to various per-minute prices.

Pack Comfortable shoes. A lot of European cities have gorgeous cobblestone streets, but it was the death of my feet. Pack shoes that you can walk around in for a few days without getting blisters, and don’t forget socks!

Download a language translator app. It could really come in handy if you ever get lost, or even if it’s just to look up how to say “thank you” in the country’s native language. Check out this list of the best translator apps for smartphones.

Keep track of currency exchanges. If you’re traveling to a country that uses a different currency system than the Euro, make some notes on your itinerary of what $20 and $100 is equal to wherever you’re going.

Essential Items to Pack

A universal adapter and converter. You’ll need one for your cellphone, laptop and even hair styling products. For hair products, be sure to use the right voltage setting on your adapter/converter because you can burn your hair off if the voltage is too high, which happened to me.

A travel belt. It sounds geeky, but better to be safe than sorry. Buy it, bring it and use it. You never know when a pick-pocketing Pete might be lurking around.

Body spray or some type of fabric refresher. After a few days without a laundromat, you’ll be thankful you brought some along to spritz your clothes with.

As for clothing, I was able to get away with three pairs of pants, two pairs of leggings, one dress and some shirts. If you’re backpacking, you’re going to have to repeat outfits.

Like traveling anywhere, you have to be safe, ask questions and listen to your gut. If you plan ahead, get ready for a (hopefully) stress-free vacation!

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