19 Tips for Surviving Summer Travel Season

With summer fast approaching, you might be thinking about getting away, and I highly recommend doing so.  There’s a whole world out there to see, and if you can take the time off and fit it into your budget, you might even consider going abroad.  International travel can be an amazing adventure, but it can also be a little scary and confusing.  With some careful planning and preparation, you’ll be able to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your trip.

19 Tips for Surviving International Travel

Whether you’re moving to a new country or taking off on a two-week holiday, here are 19 things that Kathleen Peddicord and the Editors of Live and Invest Overseas suggest you know before you go:

  1. Take two debit cards and two credit cards. Your credit card company will assure you that you’ll have no trouble using your card overseas if you contact them in advance to let them know where and when you’ll be traveling. Don’t believe them. In today’s world, credit card companies are uber-sensitive. Break your usual pattern of card use and your card will be declined. Count on it. You need at least one backup.
  2. Do not use your debit card to pay for things when traveling abroad. Save it for use in ATMs only. Debit cards are easy targets for fraud.
  3. If you’re traveling to a country where the language is not English, learn how to say the basic pleasantries in the local language—good morning, good evening, hello, good-bye, thank you, please, etc. The language app Duolingo is great and can be used to study before you go and on the fly as you’re traveling.


  1. Carry a small amount of cash with you (maybe $200 or $300). Get additional cash as you need it from ATMs, which today are everywhere in the world and the easiest and most cost-efficient way to access cash when traveling. You’ll almost always get a better rate than from a currency exchange service. Do not exchange money at an airport.
  2. Find out what your bank will charge you for using your ATM card overseas. Charges vary from zero to as much as $4 or $5 per transaction. Schwab, for example, imposes no charge when you use your Schwab card at an ATM anywhere in the world. If the foreign bank imposes a fee (as they often do), Schwab reimburses it.
  3. Buy a local SIM card upon arrival. You should be able to do this in the airport. With a local SIM card, you can use your phone to access translation apps and google maps, for example. Plus it means you have a local phone number to give to local contacts and new friends. If you’re traveling in a group, it makes communicating and staying in touch much easier.
  4. Dress appropriately. Try to blend in so you’re not a target for touts and hustlers. In some parts of the world, Americans stand out even if they dress to fit in–in Asia, for example. In Europe and Latin America, however, you can blend in. This has benefits:  from not being targeted for tourist scams to being offered better tables in restaurants.
  5. Carry $50 in your shoe when going out at night. If your purse or wallet is snatched, you have cab fare.


  1. Don’t carry your passport with you. Carry a photocopy of the photo and entry stamp pages of your passport, but leave the document itself in the hotel room safe.
  2. Know what it should cost for the taxi ride from the airport to your destination…as well as what it should cost to take a taxi across town. In most places in the world, taxi fares are standard. Still, sometimes unscrupulous drivers try to take advantage of foreigners. Know what you should pay before getting into a cab.
  3. Stick with official taxis rather than random guys who approach you asking if you need a ride.
  4. Try to step away from the tourist zone. Never go where tourists go, never shop where tourists shop, never eat where tourists eat. Tourists pay the highest prices and get the worst service.
  5. Walk with confidence and act like you know where you’re going. If you need to consult a map, for example, step into a restaurant, a shop or a hotel lobby to reorient yourself.
  6. In today’s world, it can be a good idea to avoid protests and demonstrations.
  7.  Avoid politics and political arguments. How the people of the country you’re visiting choose to run their country isn’t really any of your business.
  8.  If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable for any reason, go to a public place.
  9. Be aware of the popular tourist scams in the place where you’re traveling. In Paris, for example, the gold ring on the ground scam is common.
  10. Confirm whether you need a visa to visit the country for the time you intend to visit. An American needs a visa to travel to Brazil, for example, even as a tourist.
  11. Find out if you’ll be required to pay an entry fee when entering the country. Americans can travel visa free to many countries. Some, though, that don’t require a visa do charge an entrance fee at immigration. In Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, for example, the fee is $10. In Kenya, it’s $50. These kinds of entry fees must be paid in cash in U.S. dollars or other hard currency.

Algarve, Portugal

This is important information to be aware of if you’re planning any international travel, but most of the advice can be applied to any travel destination.  No matter where you go, you don’t want to be a target, so follow these tips and you’ll be all set to have a relaxing, fun, and safe vacation!

About Denise

Denise is the owner of Game On Mom, a family-friendly blog. She is the mother of a 6-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, she eats too much pizza, and a tangled Slinky is no match for her.


  1. Darcy Koch says:

    Wise advice for travelers. You should always plan ahead and make sure you have everything you may need. The tips on credit/debit cards are very helpful.

  2. shannon fowler says:

    Outside of canada and mexico I’ve never had the chance to travel to a different country. we are thinking of going soon though. these are some great tips, and some i wouldn’t have thought of.

  3. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    Thaj you so much! We are close to retirement and are plannong to travel…finally! I am already looking for tips and how-to’s.

  4. Great tips! So many people I know jump into vacations without researching anything, and they end up being so unprepared. You really do need to think through everything from getting to the hotel to protecting yourself from robbed. These are all great tips!

  5. Deborah Caudill says:

    Thanks for all the great tips on travelling abroad. There are so many things you need to know and so many things to look out for. When it’s hard to get through the day without receiving phone calls at home with callers trying to scam you, it makes me worry about even leaving the house to go shopping. So, these were all excellent tips for travelling safely and wisely.

  6. Elizabeth O. says:

    I like the idea of being extra cards, it’s important to be safe and cards can really be useful when you’re in a different country. I think these are very good tips!

  7. These are such helpful tips for traveling! Love the tip for putting money in your shoe so you have money for cab fare!

  8. Marti Tabora says:

    These are great tips, especially the one about debit cards overseas. That’s a really good practice.

  9. This is good advice for travelers. We are in Europe every year and I use a lot of these hints and tips. Thanks.

  10. Dogvills says:

    Thank you for the tips. They are really helpful. Having enough cash and access to cash is very important when traveling abroad. It is always best to contact your bank first and let them know where you will be going so there won’t be any untoward (and unpleasant) incidents when you are supposed to be having fun abroad.

  11. These are fantastic tips! I do plan on doing some international travel in the next year or so, and these will come in handy. I like going where the locals go vs tourists. And yes, credit cards will decline my stuff right here in the US if they notice an unusual pattern of transactions. Good stuff, thank you!

  12. Marti Tabora says:

    Thanks for all the great tips. When I have gone overseas in the past, it took me a lot of planning. It seemed like I planned for the trip for longer than I was actually gone.

  13. Vicki Wurgler says:

    I am not much of a traveler-we have visited Canada-I like the tip-Try to step away from the tourist zone

  14. We are planning a trip to the East Coast thank you for all of the tips!!!!

  15. All great tips! Dressing appropriately is always important 🙂
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  16. These are good tips. I was once followed from the train station when in Paris and the man tried to take my baby from me so I am extra careful when we travel now!

  17. Annette says:

    I love the idea of buying a local sim card.

  18. Marti Tabora says:

    Really good tips. My favorite one is Do not use your debit card to pay for things when traveling abroad.

  19. All good, sound advice! Thanks for sharing. I am sure it will be very helpful.

  20. Cheryl Everitt says:

    i have never traveled abroad and I guess I never thought about these tips. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Marti Tabora says:

    Thanks for all the great tips. The one about Duolingo is really smart. When I have gone overseas in the past, it took me a lot of planning. It seemed like I planned for the trip for longer than I was actually gone.

  22. Marti Tabora says:

    Thanks for all the great tips. When I have traveled overseas in the past, it took me a lot of planning.

  23. Marti Tabora says:

    Really good tips. My favorite one is do not use your debit card to pay for things when you are traveling abroad.

  24. Melissa says:

    Great advice! I’ve lots credit cards while traveling before – having backups is a lifesaver.

  25. Laurajj says:

    Oh these are all such great tips! I have not thought about alot of them before. I had never heard of the gold ring on the ground scam !

  26. Fiona N says:

    I really love these awesome tips, especially “Walk with confidence and act like you know where you’re going”. I think that they would help me when we go travel this summer
    Thank You for sharing!

  27. Marti Tabora says:

    Another one that I like a lot is to Know what it should cost for the taxi ride from the airport to your destination.