So you’re planning a trip abroad – it could be your first one, it could be your 50th one, or it could have just been awhile since you’ve done it. Great! I’m so excited for you and hope it’s the absolute best! But even with well-seasoned travelers, I constantly see big travel mistakes made that end up either majorly affecting the trip or ruining it overall. And there are often ways to easily avoid the things causing the issues! So, these are my top 5 things to do before you book an international flight to help make sure you have the best, smoothest trip possible
The Short Version of Things to Do Before You Book a Flight Abroad
- Check your passport expiration date against the country’s passport requirements
- Research your destination for any cultural holidays or local events that might affect your stay
- Confirm visa requirements to see what you’ll need in order to visit your destination of choice
- Make sure your layovers are long enough if you aren’t flying direct
- Look up any travel restrictions or advisories for your destination
The Long Version of 5 Things to Do Before You Book An International Flight
Each of these tips will help make sure you’re going to get the trip you expect. And before you get started, here are two ways to save money on your next inernational flight:
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1 – Check Your Passport Expiration Date Against Your Destination Country’s Passport Requirement
The amount of people I’ve seen who weren’t let onto their flight because they didn’t check the passport expiration rules of their destination country is ALARMING. Every country is different, and just because you haven’t passed the expiration window for your passport while you’re on your trip, that doesn’t necessarily mean you meet that country’s requirements.
For example, Ireland allows you in the country as long as your passport is valid. Easy enough, right?
Croatia on the other hand requires your passport not be within three months of its expiration date. So if your passport expires in May, but you’re planning to travel in July, you would need to get a new passport to visit Croatia.
And even more strict are countries like South Africa, who require six months of passport validity to enter. So if you were planning on traveling in December, your passport expiration date has to be AFTER June the following year.
Additionally, some countries will require at least one empty, unused page in your passport. So that’s another consideration you need to make!
So it’s so important to check your passport against the requirements of the country – or countries – you’ll be visiting. Because they will not let you board your flight and you will miss your entire trip. That’s why this is number one on my list of things to do before you book your international flight, because this one can make the whole thing not happen when you’re already at the airport. How devastating!
2 – Research Local Holidays For Date Overlaps
Sometimes cultural holidays or local events can significantly change a trip’s experience and you might not know it’s occurring unless you specifically look into it!
Make sure to double check what’s going on in your destination(s) during your travel date so you don’t deal with say, wildly expensive lodging because a concert festival is happening, or have to deal with severely limited location hours because of a religious holiday.
Make sure you are able to have the trip you want to have by doing this research before you book that international flight.
3 – Confirm Visa Requirements For Destination
This is a SUPER important thing you need to consider before you book an international flight. Depending on where you’re traveling from, where you’re traveling to, and the duration of your trip, you may or may not need to get a certain visa for your trip.
While you won’t necessarily need the visa in order to book the flight itself, you’ll need to be sure that you will be able to get one for your trip. So definitely research your country of origin and your destination, and how easy it is to get a visa.
Also, in case anything goes wrong after you’ve already booked, make sure you get trip insurance so you don’t have to worry about losing out on all the money you spent.
4 – Confirm Layovers Are Long Enough
SO often I see people choose a cheaper international flight with risky layover times, then be stuck in their layover city for a day where they now have to get a hotel and figure out transportation with luggage that may or may not have made it. This almost always ends up costlier than the flight with the longer layover, so you might be out the money you thought you were going to save.
So before you book that international flight, make sure you’ve got the standard hour and a half MINIMUM (even that might be pushing it) layover time for international flights. I would stay try to aim for two hours, especially if you’re switching airlines and having to recheck baggage.
5 – Look Up Travel Restrictions, Alerts, or Advisories For Your Destination
One last thing to do before you finally click “purchase” on those international flight tickets is to make sure there aren’t any ongoing safety concerns regarding your visit. You can do this by looking at your home country’s travel embassy site and see what they say about your destination.
So there you go, my top tips for what you’ve got to do before booking your next international flight. I hope these save you potential headaches down the road and bring you comfort the next time you’re planning to book a trip abroad. If you’ve got any questions about these tips, feel free to reach out as always, and if you want to hear more from me, sign up for my email newsletter or follow me on social media, links for both of those below. Cheers to your next trip, and bon voyage!