Things to Know About International Travel, Passports, and Customs

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Travel the world | 3 comments

International Travel

International travel is very different from domestic travel. You’ll be required to have different documentation, jump through different hoops before entering and leaving a country, and deal with cultural barriers and even uncomfortable situations while traveling. The more prepared you are, the better equipped you will be to handle the unexpected while traveling abroad.

Acquiring a Passport

International travel requires a passport. A passport is a form of photo identification issued by your home country. It’s important to apply for passports well before your date of departure, as the process can take several weeks or even months.

Going Through Customs

When you enter and depart from a foreign country, you’ll be required to fill out customs information. Customs is a department in a country that monitors what items are being brought into and taken out of the country. You’ll get forms, either on the plane or in the airport, that allow you to itemize all of the items you purchased within the country.

Some items, like live animals, food products, and alcohol, are strictly regulated with regard to international transport. Be sure that your home country allows items from various countries to be transported across the border before you make a big purchase overseas. Most people, however, have no trouble getting through customs.

Avoid the Ugly American Scenario

There is a term often applied to American tourists who show little regard to foreign customs. “Ugly American” is a slang phrase used to describe a tourist who expects the foreign cultures of the world to accommodate his or her own personal world view. Foreign cultures are just that: foreign. This means that you should expect things to run a little differently when you are visiting a different culture.

Your food may not be prepared the way you’re used to. You might have to deal with language barriers, shopping differences, and even lodgings that aren’t up to your standards. Instead of fussing and stressing about these adjustments, you should do your best to remember that you are a guest in another country. Try to learn about a foreign culture and absorb the differences, and allow travel to broaden your world view.


International travel can be an incredible and educating experience. Many people assert that they hadn’t yet begun to live until they witnessed the daily lives of people in other cultures throughout the world. If you have credit card airline miles, using them to plan an overseas vacation is a great decision.


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3 Responses to “Things to Know About International Travel, Passports, and Customs”

  1. Ugly American syndrome is the worst! It always makes me cringe when my fellow countrymen behave badly in foreign countries.

    • Its certainly cringe-worthy when you encounter insensitive tourists who have complete disregard for local people and culture. Everyone ought to respect their hosts and as they say, do as the Romans do when they go to Rome

  2. International travel is such a wonderful and educational experience. I wish people would really take to heart that they are “guests” in the country they’re visiting. It’s an unfortunate label but sometimes, well-deserved. Great tips here.

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