6 Essentials for an International Trip

Traveling internationally is one of my favorite things to do. I made a goal last year to visit at least six countries a year and I intend to accomplish that. My first international trip was last minute and I only had 24 hours to get ready. It was an exciting trip, but I wasn’t as prepared as I am now. I’ve traveled often since then and realized that there are six essentials that make the trip better for me. Hopefully they will for you as well.

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Global Entry

If you plan on traveling internationally you need to sign up for Global Entry. The $100 fee is completely worth the amount of time you save going through customs on your way back, which can be hours. Imagine getting off a ten hour flight and waiting in line for another two. It’s not fun and I did it once. Never again. With Global Entry you can be off the plane and on your way home in 20 minutes. Sometimes sooner.

Another benefit of Global Entry is that you’re automatically enrolled in the TSA Pre program for no additional cost. TSA Pre allows you to breeze through security since the lines are shorter and you don’t have to take off shoes or take items out of your bag. People who have TSA Pre tend to be frequent travelers so they know the routine, which helps the line move quicker. The cost of TSA Pre is $85 so if you plan on getting that you’re better off applying for Global Entry for the extra $15. Apply for Global Entry.

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Noise Canceling Headphones

Airplane time is my thinking time, especially if it’s a long flight. It’s not time for people to talk to me about their knitting passion, a game of I Spy or an attempt to make me believe that your cat is “different” and actually cool. Those are all true stories. The headphones let me go to my happy place and is a sign that talking is off limits. In addition to muting unnecessary noise made from people, the headphones limit the amount of noise you hear from the airplane. Overall, they make the ride more peaceful. Trust me, there are a few ways to begin a trip on the wrong foot and one of them is leaving the plane aggravated and ready to punch someone.

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Monocle

There’s more going on in the world than what Fox News makes you believe. There’s also publications that are actually stimulating and beneficial. For that I turn to Monocle. The combination of traveling more internationally and reading Monocle has really opened my mind, eyes and beliefs of the world. Think of Monocle as your publication that educates you on the current state of countries, how they’re trying to improve and how our global environment is connected. I could really talk about this more, but the best way to experience this is to sign up for a subscription or receive their free daily email, Monocle Minute. I’m not sure if Monocle is in all Whole Foods, but I’ve picked up a few issues from the one near my home.

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Solid Cologne

A good scent makes me happy and calm. I pack very lightly when traveling and a normal spray bottle takes up too much room. I also don’t want to be that person spraying cologne and making everyone around me angry. It’s just like that person who walks into an elevator and makes your eyes water because his cologne is too strong. You kind of want to spray him in the eyes with cologne. Maybe that’s just me though.

Solid cologne on the other hand is extremely portable and allows me to control how strong the scent is so it’s perfect for my lifestyle. On a typical international flight I usually apply it twice. Once when I sit down and get settled in and a second time when we’re about to land.

When I’m on the ground I’m always exploring. I also tend to get hot easily. Exploring + hot = sweat and that makes me uncomfortable. Solid cologne fixes that for me and is more of a habit now. Just like chewing gum after a meal. You can purchase solid cologne for under $20.

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GoPro

Whether it’s a bike ride around Berlin or jumping off a cliff in Sardinia my GoPro is with me. Most of the time my mind is in learning mode when I visit a new country. I try to take everything in and live the culture. Photos are great, but if you stop every five minutes to take a picture you’re kind of missing out on the now. When you have the GoPro going you can revisit your trip and look at things you may have missed or relive certain moments. Since my GoPro shoots in 4k it’s easy to turn a video clip into a high quality photo anyways. I still stop and take photos because you obviously need to update your Instagram followers, but for the most part I switched to taking more videos.

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An Open Mind

Traveling is much different than vacationing. I like to think of vacationing as relaxing the mind and traveling as expanding the mind. There have been times where I came back from a trip mentally and physically exhausted. However, those trips are the ones that leave me wanting more and give me a new perspective on my current life. That’s why I go to new countries with no expectations and the assumption that I’m going to end up lost at some point. I assume that now because it’s happened every time. For example…

One night I left a Tokyo bar and ended up getting off at the wrong train stop. I thought I knew where I was going, but 45 minutes later I’m on a random road leading to the middle of nowhere. Instead of using Google I decided to figure it out myself. Who knows what you’ll run into, right? 30 minutes later I come up to a small construction zone. It’s a small project for a road that barely sees any activity. I near a crosswalk where I’m greeted by a worker. There are clearly no cars coming, but he looks around, smiles and gives me the okay to cross. On the other side of the crosswalk, which is probably only 20 feet, is another worker. As I pass he smiles and nods. This was at 2 or 3AM. I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere, but it’s one of my favorite memories of Tokyo, which is saying a lot because I have many.

That night really made me notice the hospitality and pride the Japanese have. I experienced that type of behavior during my entire trip, but that memory really stands out. When I read about the Japanese reputation in Monocle I can relate and agree. That’s why I enjoy reading the publication and also go into every trip with an open mind. If you plan on being in your comfort zone while traveling then you’re going to miss out on experiences that can really change the way you think about life.

And then there was the time in Amsterdam…