Well it’s looking like my trip is getting close to being finalized, at least according to my poor credit card. After two automated, and somewhat judgemental, phone call security checkups asking me if I’m still sane for authorizing these charges, I think my travel plans are finally coming together. Being excited and looking forward to something is definitely a nice feeling to have these days.
While I always look forward to travelling and all the good memories that come from any trip that I take, I can’t help but recall some of the frustrating things I’ve encountered during a few trips abroad.
Getting access to the local currency is always a necessity. It shouldn’t have to be difficult nowadays, and for the most part, it isn’t. There are plenty of no foreign fee transaction credit cards out there, as well as debit cards that reimburse you for any fees which I will talk about some other time. However you will always end up running into a situation where you try to use your cards abroad and they get locked down due to some automated fraud detection system. This will happen even if you’re like me and call in travel notifications to every one of your credit and debit cards, even the ones you don’t take with you. Yes, I am paranoid and thorough. I’ve been using Google Voice ever since Google bought out GrandCentral and offered the service to Google account holders. It’s a free phone number that you can link to any phone number you have control over. I use it as my main number, and link it to my home, cell, and office phone. It’s especially great to have one if you like to travel abroad. You can make free phone calls, and send free texts, to the U.S. from your gmail account wherever you can get an internet connection. I use it as my number for all my credit cards, so if I ever have any security issues, I can take care of it via a quick phone call from my “home” number. It’s also great for calling your dad who refuses to pick up the phone if he doesn’t recognize the number on caller ID.
There is nothing like sitting in coach on a flight back from Tokyo for 14 hours, filling out a paper customs form after prying your eyes open from a crust of melatonin and red wine, then having to sit in a customs and border control line for two hours after getting off the plane. While I still recommend getting your Global Entry card to skip the lines and baggage check, it may not be worth the $100 fee for others. Mobile Passport for your phone is a nice alternative. It allows you to fill out the form electronically from your phone, and even has dedicated lines starting to pop up in a few major international airports. All for free. Definitely worth downloading and setting up.