RWS Moravians are frequent flyers. Many of us travel extensively to attend conferences, visit clients and work with colleagues at our offices worldwide (9 of them!). Each year, RWS Moravia is also an exhibitor, speaker or attendee at over 20 worldwide events from organizations like TAUS, ATMA, LocWorld and GALA. We love interacting with people from other cultures and seeing new places (and oh, how we love the food).
Yet foreign travel, as exciting as it may be, isn’t simple. We’ve all made packing and planning mistakes causing inconvenience, frustration and discomfort. And sometimes, we’ve have had to learn the hard way about how to make trips comfortable and safe.
So, we collected our top tips for what helps us stay happy and sane when we travel. We hope these can help you, too.
Making the best of those long flights
Those long flights can be uncomfortable to say the least! Tiny seats, no leg room, bad food, loud noises. Yet there are ways you can improve your experience on the plane.
- Get a noise-cancelling headset. Blocking out ambient noise will help you get good sleep on an overnight flight. Also, sometimes you don’t want to hear other passengers talking and snoring—so why not tune all that out if you can? There are some reasonably priced options out there.
- Buy a decent neck pillow. Headrests are never in the right place for your height and you don’t want a neck kink all through your trip. It will also help you get comfortable enough to get some rest. Here’s one that supports your neck well and it packs up pretty small. Some come with earplugs and an eye mask—both of which are also indispensable.
- Make sure you get a great seat. Sites like SeatGuru map out the inside of the plane and rank the seats based on how desirable they might be. Check out the seat map before you book.
Packing well can make a huge difference
What you take with you might be the most important thing to get right to experience a comfortable trip. Here are some must-haves.
- Packing cubes. These help you stay organized and they compress your clothes so you can fit more in your bag. Check out these from eagle creek. Some also have two sides so you can put dirties in a separate compartment.
- A power adapter and/or converter. Electrical sockets come in a variety of shapes and sizes: you’ve got the two-flat-prong style of the US versus the three-rectangular-prong outlet in the UK and Ireland. And before you start plugging things in, check the voltage; it might be different from that in your home country and you might need a power converter so you don’t fry your electronics.
- An empty water bottle. This will save you money and help keep you hydrated (which is critical while traveling). Plus, it’s just the right thing to do so you don’t have to buy and throw away plastic bottles.
- Snacks. When you’re traveling, you’re never sure when you’ll be able to eat and what kinds of food will be available. Avoid being hangry or unable to eat the airplane meal because you’re gluten free. It’s nice to have your own supply of protein bars, nuts or other durable foods you like.
- Antibacterial wipes. It’s rumored that up to 25% of international travelers get sick when they get back home. Try these to clean off the tray and window in the airplane and surfaces like the phone and remote control in your hotel rooms.
- Medicines to treat nausea, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea or upset stomach. All that foreign food can hit you hard.
- Laundry detergent sheets. Inevitably, you’ll spill something on your best pants. You can wash them in the sink with a product like this.
In addition, here’s some great packing advice: pack everything you think you need, then take out 25%. Even when you think you’ve packed light, you’ll return with stuff you never used.
And lastly, try not to check a bag. With tight connections and multiple flights, your chances of a lost bag increase—and that can be pure misery. Imagine giving a presentation in your yoga pants.
Safety and security
A couple precautions will help you make sure you don't have any logistical trouble while traveling.
- Make a photocopy of your passport. In case yours gets lost or stolen, you’ll have a backup. And, you can often use the copy in banks and other places where you’ll need ID, so you can leave your passport in the safe in your hotel room.
- Get a traveling cellphone data plan. You’ll likely want to use map apps and other online resources to book hotels or transportation or to read restaurant reviews. You may also want to text your loved ones to let them know what you’re up to. There are good plans like this travel pass with Verizon in the US that lets you use your regular plan with a charge of $10/day when abroad.
- Enroll in STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service in the US that lets you register your trip to get alerts and messages relevant to your trip area. The information you provide (passport number, travel dates, email address, etc.) enables the closest US embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. Check for similar programs in other countries, too.
- Call your credit card provider to tell them you’ll be traveling to another country. Fraud detection software will very quickly alert your credit card company if there’s unexpected activity on it, and they’ll shut down your card pretty quickly.
As you can see, we have a lot of experience to share! Traveling can be rewarding, both for business and pleasure. But, there’s no reason why your trip has to be uncomfortable—or worse, unsafe—because you didn’t know what to pack or do before traveling. We hope these tips help improve your international experiences.
What tips do you have for fellow world travelers?