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Overseas Travel Tips for the Novice Traveler

Updated on September 5, 2019
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Sharon is a certified Human Resources Professional with a passion for health topics, food, books, and writing.

I am a novice traveler. I have to admit that I am not young and I had never left the continent. That continent is North America. I have traveled throughout Canada and the U.S. but never overseas. Then, with my family, I booked a trip to Italy and Greece. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about overseas travel.


Traveling Tips for Overseas

We had six flights in two weeks. Those flights were Toronto to Rome to Sicily to Santorini to Athens and back to Toronto. It was the trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute of it. However, it could have been even more enjoyable had I discovered these tips before I got on that first plane!

These tips may be obvious to seasoned travelers and you may have more that you could share so I welcome you to add your tips in the comments.

These are the tips that stood out for me and will make my next overseas trip more enjoyable. I have caught the travel bug and I hope to be visiting Europe again. I'm saving my pennies right now!

The View in Greece: Santorini


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My Top Ten Tips for Travel

  1. Buy comprehensive insurance.

    Insurance can be expensive but you paid a lot for the vacation and if your luggage is lost or you miss a transfer - its going to cost you a lot more! The peace of mind alone is worth it. My luggage was lost for 2 days and I didn't know if I would even get it back.

    I had nothing but the clothes on my back that I had just worn on an 8 hour flight. Ewww. I was able to shop for fresh fashion because I had coverage for such an event. Yay!

  2. Packing.

    Why did I bring all these shoes? Three pairs would have been fine. One for walking, a pair for the beach, and a good pair for going out for dinner. You don't need as much as you think; except underwear - bring lots of underwear - because you are not going to do laundry and underwear takes little room in your luggage. Bring clothes that do not wrinkle and roll them to save space. With this added space do not bring more to your destination, use it to bring back the things you buy.

  3. Carry on luggage.

    The next time I travel I am going to attempt to put everything in a carry on suitcase. I think it can be done. If you can't reduce your load at least put emergency clothes and toiletries in your carry on because you never know where your checked suitcase is going because and it may not be with you!

  4. Don't book those overnight flights.

    Yes, it sounds great you leave and sleep on the plane and are refreshed and ready to go when you arrive in your destination. Yeah, sure. I can't sleep on planes; at least not very well. My trip to Europe going in was overnight and I felt, well, crappy. The trip home was a morning flight and it was much easier to tolerate. I didn't feel the urge to jump up and run up and down the aisles screaming - not even once!

  5. Ear phones/plugs

    You will need them for the movies and the music. They are not free anymore as they were in the good old days. You have to buy them but they are cheap in cost and cheap in quality on the planes. It is better to bring your own good quality ear plugs from home. And they do a good job of drowning out the sound of that crying baby. Poor parents.

  6. Watch what you eat and drink before a flight.

    You know your body and do you really want to have to use that bowl in the sky for number two? I know what foods trigger this reaction in me so yes, I avoid coffee in the sky at all costs. Who wants to be running to that bathroom more than you need too. You shoud be hydrated but finish all water intake 2 hours before your flight and you should be good. Drink sparingly during your flight and no booze. Nope, no fun for you! Save that for a nice dinner at your destination. Yes, that's much better.

  7. Sanitize (Wash those hands)

    You are on an overseas flight with, I don't know 400 to 600 people jammed in close quarters with questionable air circulation for what? eight or more hours? Yes, a recipe for catching some crazy virus. Now, you might get through your trip okay with incubation times and all but that bug is going to get you and get you good. I see people come back from these trips all the time and get very sick usually with an upper respiratory tract infection and guess what? I got sick too. I came down with bronchitis and was off a week of work just after my two weeks of vacation. Yes, my employer loves me. So wash your hands, bring sanitizer and use it.

  8. Look for local markets and save money.

    I was in Rome - a very expensive city and very hot. Bottled water was a must. I found a little market up the street from my centrally located hotel that sold two litre bottles of water for about 35 cents. This sure beats the street vendors selling 500 ml bottles for a buck fifty. This same little market had fruit and snacks that were cheap, cheap cheap. Fast forward, Santorini, Greece. Same thing!! Little market down the cobblestone street from my our villa. We bought fresh cold cuts and a large loaf of bread enough for 5 people with a two litre bottle of water and it cost us ....wait for it....3.35 Euros! Say what? Now nothing where I live is cheaper than that. We were able to have light lunches and save a trip to the local restaurants that were not so cheap. Yes! All good.

  9. Buy a Travel Guide and bring it!

    I didn't and I wish I had. Learning more about your destination and having a reference book to look things up is handy. I saw a lot of buildings in Rome, a lot! There was history everywhere but other than the most famous sites I had no idea what I was looking at. Yes. Get a book.

  10. Buy a cell phone travel pack with DATA.

    But, no I won't need data there is free wifi. And yes there is - hard to log on to and very, very slow Wifi. I should have added data to my travel pack. Oh, well. Finally reached Athens at the very end of my trip and the first hotel with reliable internet. Awww, relief. Yes, web addicted me. I just wanted to check my email. That's all.


Bonus Tip 11 - Buy a Digital Luggage Scale.

American Weigh Scales AMW-LS-110 Scale, 1
American Weigh Scales AMW-LS-110 Scale, 1

As mentioned above - I had a friend that had to pay 200.00 to check his heavy luggage. Ouch! Invest in one of these scales and save your money. I purchased this inexpensive luggage scale. All you do is clip it to the handle and lift. The digital display will tell you how much weight you are lifting. It's so easy to use and accurate too.

It was well worth the investment. There were five of us in our travel party and we were able to take a lot more home by switching up our stuff and balancing the weight between our suitcases. This saved us time and money! Wow, the charges for extra weight are exorbitant.

We had no extra charges and we watched a family of about our size get stopped at the check in and they were frantically unpacking and readjusting their items between their suitcases right there in the airport. Yes, it was quite the show. I was certainly glad to have my little scale because we flew through the check in with ease. Ta da!


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Sharon Bellissimo

Calling all travelers! - What are your travel tips?

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