10 international air travel tips

Be prepared!
Be prepared!

1. Keep copies of travel docs
Nothing is worse than losing your passport or tickets and getting stranded in foreign land. Always keep a copy of your passport in every piece of baggage. An extra copy of air ticket & visa won’t hurt if you recycle them when you return.

2. Distribute your currency
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; spread money across your bags and some in your wallet. Use a spare purse or a self-sealing bag to keep the currency of the port you’re leaving that you can move back in when you return.

3. Check local weather
Weather can be a real spoiler. Quite a few parts of Asia & Europe are infamous for random showers. Be prepared. A folding umbrella or a monkey cap – or at least, the right pair of shoes – can really save a day.

4. Know about your consulate
It is essential to know how your country is represented in places you are visiting. It could be an embassy, a consulate or served by the diplomatic mission of another country. Fortunately, I have never had to use this information. But this is the first place and your last resort if shit hits the roof.

5. Download offline maps on your device
Avoid messy paper maps by downloading local road & public transport information on your smartphone, tablet or pad. If Google doesn’t let you, use Maps (-) on Android to save maps offline. And then if you have a local SIM, you can enjoy (approximate) location services with A-GPS without incurring data charges.

6. Carry an extra pair in your handbag
Don’t under-estimate the world’s best airlines losing your baggage. Especially when going remote places that are not connected with enough flights or when you have a meeting to attend the next day. You’re usually allowed up to 7 kgs over and above your laptop – enough for a spare shirt. If you’re wearing shorts & chap pals on a business trip, God save you.

7. Carry snacks you love
I love trying local food. But there are no guarantees. Anything from cost to taste to ingredients can come in the way of your diet and its best to carry some stock of local, instant or ready food. Maggi, theplas, fried-snacks like chakli, farsan, chips are all-time favorites.

8. Get the local pulse
Understand how and until what time it is safe to move around the place. Always avoid strangers – even fellow countrymen if you don’t feel safe. More than knowing where to go, know where not to go. If you’re on your own, learn a bit about the local culture. Don’t discuss the holocaust over beer in Germany or point fingers at places or people in Tokyo.Not just the place you’re staying but surrounding areas as well. Read your nation’s guideline on the country you’re visiting, and if your local mission advises registering yourself – do it.

9. Estimate your travel
Factor in stay, meals, commute, visa fees, airport taxes, and local entrance fees at least. You don’t need to budget to the last dollar you need, but carry enough to avoid exchanging at poor rates. Don’t ever exchange at the airport. If you ever run out, use your debit card instead of the credit card.

10. Accumulate air miles
Unless you’re booked in a class that doesn’t credit miles, there is no reason to not record your miles. Pick your favorite airline, check which alliance it belongs to and sign up for the alliance’s frequent flyer program. Then make sure you always fly an airline within that alliance and you will accumulate maximum miles. Star Alliance is one of the best programs by far, unless you are an Emirates fan.