New to international travel? Here’s what you need to know | News

I’ve not purposely tried to keep my aversion to traveling a secret.

I pretty much bared my soul on the topic in 2022, when I wrote about exchanging the comfort of Northeast Nebraska for a trip to Chandler, Arizona, to bring a loved one back from their winter home. So when the opportunity arose to write on the topic of how to prepare for international travel, I figured it would be the perfect assignment for me.

I mean — hear me out — without having any experience with international travel, I would be able to delve into the topic without any preconceived notions (absurd anxiety-induced mental images of doom and gloom that might befall me in a foreign environment notwithstanding).

But how does one who has no experience with international travel write about how to prepare for it? Talk to experts, of course. I reached out to Dave Busskohl, Susan Busskohl and Vickie Bivens with Allied Tour & Travel in Norfolk, who ended up giving me a lot more than I expected from our conversation.

First and foremost, they said, someone who is planning an international trip needs to have their paperwork in order.

“You need to have your passport and make sure that it’s good six months later than your return date — that it’s valid for that long,” Bivens said. “We need everything spelled correctly, and it’s got to match spot on.”

Applications for passports must be done well in advance, as well. “At least two to three months (before), you want to put your application in,” Susan Busskohl said.

Coming out of the pandemic, the production of passports could not keep up with the demand, so there was a lengthy wait to receive one. Susan Busskohl said that has somewhat eased, but there have been instances where residents planning a trip abroad have had to ask Sen. Pete Ricketts or Rep. Mike Flood’s offices to expedite the matter.

They said adequate preparation for a trip is based primarily around the destination. For someone unfamiliar with international travel, Dave Busskohl suggested choosing potential destinations based on things that interest you.

“What do you like doing? Find out what that is, and that can be a motivator to travel,” Dave Busskohl said.

For example, someone who is into sports might be interested in catching a big sporting event, or someone who likes history might be interested in a destination that has a rich past.

“Some of those interests can be what drives people to travel. Especially if they are a bit reluctant, they just need to be motivated. Some just love seeing the scenery and creation. It depends what turns people on and what they’re attracted to,” he said.

Once the destination is selected, a traveler needs to know what documentation and health requirements are needed for the environment they’re planning to visit.

“In more exotic places, you’ve got to get shots,” Susan Busskohl said. “You want to do your research. That’s where a travel agent can be a big help.”

An international traveler also needs to determine how they will get from place to place once they reach their destination. If someone plans to drive, they will need to acquire an international driver’s license.

“If you think you’re going to drive in Ireland like you do in Norfolk, you’re not,” Dave Busskohl said with a smile.

Bivens said it’s important for inexperienced travelers to manage their expectations regarding whatever destination they choose, as well. Language, culture, currency, food and even smells will likely bring a new experience, and a traveler should not expect the destination to be like home.

“People shouldn’t expect things to be like home if you’re going to another country,” she said. “You’re going to experience their culture, their food, their way of life. It’s not going to be like the U.S. …What you’re used to at home is not what you’ll have.”

“That’s the fun part for me — trying something new,” added Susan Busskohl, whose own travels have taken her to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Africa.

For someone who might be apprehensive about international travel, Susan Busskohl suggested group travel.

“Group travel really is a good way to go,” she said. “Everything is taken care of for you. You can relax and sit back and enjoy and learn how it works with hotels and attractions and things so if you do want to venture out on your own (later) you can do that. A lot of people love group travel because of the ease of it.”

And while stories of violence, war or natural disasters can and have had a cooling effect on the popularity of certain destinations — Ukraine, the Holy Land and certain places in Mexico, for the latest examples — it’s helpful to keep a healthy perspective on associated risks.

There are residents of other countries who are afraid to come to the United States, as well, because of what’s heard on the news, they said.

“It seems like people who are travelers — especially if they’re international travelers — they have a little bit (of a) different mindset and a different risk tolerance than a person who’s just going to travel domestically,” Susan Busskohl said. “They certainly look at those things (risks), but it seems their concerns are not as great as what you might think they are.”

But perhaps the most surprising — and comforting (for me anyway) — piece of information they had to offer is that it’s perfectly fine to not be a fan of traveling, too.

“It’s not for everybody,” Susan Busskohl said.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *