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Ten Things I wish I knew before Traveling Internationally

1. The Plane has a USB port on the back of the seat in front of you. I’m not even kidding. I was so thrilled to be able to charge my phone and finish charging my pocket chargers for the trip. The smaller planes did not have the same luxury and often times the Airport charging stations were full.

2. Getting checked in without having to check a bag is lightening fast. Just provide your confirmation of booking and passport and you’ll get your booking pass in no time! The longest part about this process was standing in line and since we were flying a less popular airline it only took about 15 minutes.

3. Security is an absolute breeze. I was so stressed out about security. I guess just because I’m always seeing things on the news about getting randomly selected and I feel like I’ve got horrible luck so I just knewit’d happen to me. Or my travel containers would be the wrong size and I’d have to ditch them. If it was a worst-case scenario; I’d imagined it. I was very impressed with how smoothly Miami International Airport ran their security. It only took about 10 minutes to get in line, get through security, and get my boots back on.

4. Hard shell carry-on luggage is the way to go. Luckily my carry-on is a hard-shell but my husband’s is not. It’s structured and sturdy but still a fabric shell. On crowded flights in the colder countries (ahem, Denmark….) we found that with all the jackets, scarves, purses, etc going up into the overhead space people got a bit testy. Some were outright shoving and slamming their items into the already stored items to try and make them fit.
Also, as mentioned in a previous post; excellent footrest

5. That travel pillow? Useless. You may be different so I suggest that you take one on your first flight or two to find out. But I can’t sleep on a plane. Not a wink. Trust me, I tried reallyhard. We had two flights that were over ten hours long – not including layovers, that’s just the Atlantic Ocean leg of the trip – and I couldn’t sleep. The neck pillow, although adorable, ended up just being a pain in my neck to carry around the whole trip. Oh, and also my sleep mask. I’ll ditch that next time too.

6. Take Snacks! I’m totally going to TYOS (that’s Take Your Own Snacks) for every flight from now on. I did not bring any on the first flight out because I didn’t think I could and it didn’t even cross my mind. But those peanuts aren’t free and I’m on a serious budget so I lived vicariously through those who were snacking on the plane. For ten hours. Yes, they did feed me supper and breakfast on the flight but I’m a snacker. I love snacks. I also love boredom eating. So, if you share these fantastically unhealthy habits you should TYOS too.

7. Make your layover a stopover. There is absolutely no sense in sitting in an airport for six hours when the town is only 30 minutes away. Stick that luggage into the airport luggage lockers and go explore a bit! Most of the lockers are only the equivalent of $10 for a day and you can easily fit two carry-on bags, a purse, and a painting in them. Then it’s a simple matter of deciding if you want to Uber or catch the airport shuttle.

8. Uber. Uber is beautiful. It’s the same price or cheaper than the shuttle services and you can talk to a local who knows the area very well who is usually more than willing to give advice on things you should see, things you shouldn’t see, places to eat, and something off the beaten path to do. I did find that your Uber driver probably won’t be as chatty at 1:00a.m. especially if you’ve sent him to the wrong terminal at the airport. But I think that one is on me.

9. Once you enter and get stamped in a country that is part of the European Union you don’t get stamped again whether entering or leaving. How did I learn such a thing? By dragging my husband all over the Fiumicino Airport in Rome and asking about five different information booths to verify that we didn’t need stamps on our passport after being stamped in Denmark. I’ll admit that I was a bit paranoid and didn’t want to be stuck in Italy despite how gorgeous the country is and despite my husband’s adimant statements that they’d be more than happy to ship us back to the US with or without a stamp.

10. Scooting through customs to get back in the US is easy peasy! As long as you’re a citizen and don’t have anything to declare. They have these fantastic little kiosks that you and everyone that you’re traveling with can use. For instance, my husband and I used a single kiosk to simultaneously make any declarations necessary (which for this trip, were none) it takes your photo, compares it to that on your passport, gives you a little receipt that you take to the customs officer working the desk and voila! you’re on your way.


I found that Plusseating is so much better than Economyseating and definitely worth the extra price! Our seats were messed up for the flight home so the airline moved us to complimentary Plusseating. We lost the window seat but gained much more leg room – enough for me to sit with my legs crossed the whole flight, a seat that reclines further, a larger screen to watch, and access to the outside cameras on the plane. Will I pay for the upgrade in the future? No. Why? Because I’m thrifty and I don’t feel that it’s a necessary expense. Economy seating is not miserable for me because I’m the very definition of the average sized person that they were designed for.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

This post first appeared on The Thrifty Carry-on, please read the originial post: here

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Ten Things I wish I knew before Traveling Internationally


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