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Being able to travel internationally is one of the best gifts of life – going to a foreign country and exploring the nitty-gritty of a new world opens your hearts and minds to new experiences that you never thought was possible.

Depending on your destination, traveling abroad can be a fairly simple to a very tedious affair. While some places function in a way that is similar to how things are being done at home, others can be totally different– and have very differing set of rules. In any case, a new country always means a new set of protocols that you must adhere to, and definitely don’t want to end up on the wrong side of.

Here are some tips that you should follow to keep your international travel experience as smooth as possible:

Keep Your Passport Up-To-Date:

Having a clear and up-to-date passport is the most important thing you can ever have when it comes to international travel. Even the slightest blemish on your passport can mean a great deal of trouble that could potentially ruin your travel experience. Make sure that your passport has at least two blank pages, and that the expiry date is at least six months from the day you make your return trip. The latter especially is very important as many countries do not allow individuals with a less than six months expiry date on their passports to avoid having overstayers with no valid passport to return home to.

Opt for a Suitable Insurance Policy:

No matter how much you keep yourself and your surroundings safe, mishaps can – and do – happen. After all, all those horror stories told by overseas tour operators and travel agents do come from somewhere.

While there is no way to keep yourself absolutely safe from mis-happenings, it is possible to protect yourself in case of a calamity through sound and valid insurance plans. Insurance plans can protect you against a variety of unexpected events – from illnesses, accidents and thefts, to riots and disasters – having one ensures that you are properly compensated for your troubles. Make sure to opt for a policy that suits the nature of your travels and your personal needs and requirements.

Pack Medication Beforehand:

Availability and legality of medicines vary from one country to another – what may be available in your country easily may not be available at all in another, or one that is available over-the-counter in your country may be a prescription-only drug in another.

In the event that you are on any regular medication – prescription or otherwise – make sure to have plenty of the medicines so that you don’t run short of it in the middle of your trip. Additionally, also make sure to have a copy of your doctor’s prescription (even for over-the-counter drugs) – so that in case you do have to buy medications abroad, you can do so without a hitch.

Regardless of whether or not you are on any medication, however, make sure to have some general medicines that can come in handy for common (but non-critical) medical issues such as common cold, flu, diarrhea. Also make sure to have general ointments for cuts and wounds.

Plan Your Airplane Ride in Advance:

With all the restrictions and regulations in place these days, traveling by-air can be a very tedious task. From booking to seating to packing – and everything in between – every aspect requires tact and care and special attention to the fact that you are not violating any rule. Dealing with such things can be difficult, and even the slightest of mistake can make things anywhere from uncomfortable to highly awry for you.

For starters, you must book your flight in advance with online travel sites such as Expedia or Kayak. Booking early reduces expense, while booking through online travel sites allows you to get the best deals available for your time and money and allow for discounted hotel bookings as well. Once you have booked your flight, make sure to research any airline restrictions for your carry-on baggage and luggage, so that you can pack your bags according to them (as opposed to going through the hassles of packing and unpacking in the security line).

Make yourself as safe as possible:

When it comes to visiting a new city – getting lost is a real possibility – and something that happens way more often than one can think of. Always make sure you have enough information to be able to return to your hotel – or any other familiar spot.

Apart from having the most up-to-date version of maps on your mobile, make sure to have a decent printed map (this comes in handy especially when you are out of connectivity). A local map will also help you communicate with others easier in case you need to show someone (like a cab driver) where you would like to go. Besides that, make sure to grab a business card of the hotel you are staying at – it can help you find your way back in case you lose your way.

Additionally, check out the local tourist information office – it often has plenty of good ideas for getting around safely in your new surroundings, and also lists potential risks that you could benefit staying away from.

Dress Appropriately:

One of the worst faux pas you can ever make as a tourist is to dress in a way that is inappropriate to the local population. Every country has its own rules and customs of dressing and violating them only would only serve to bring unwanted attention to yourself. Make sure that your attire is suitable for the atmosphere you are visiting and does not make you stick out like an ‘obvious foreigner.’

Spend All of Your Foreign Currency Abroad:

While it is fun to have some spare change of a foreign currency to keep and show as souvenirs, having international money in larger amounts is nothing but a waste in your home country. This is because currency exchanges that buy foreign currencies in your home countries from you is something that is rare (if not impossible) to find.

The best thing to do is spend as much foreign currency as possible abroad, and in case you do not need any, make sure to exchange it before you board your return flight.