16 Best International Travel Tips including Pet Travel

Here are my  tips from years of international travel, sometimes with my furry friends.

Seat Guru

Seat Guru helps me find the best seats on nearly any aircraft, especially for Pets.  Everyone knows first-class seats are larger than Economy, but did you know not every seat in Economy has the same dimensions? 

On some aircraft the window seat has more room under the seat in front of you—sometimes it’s the aisle.

Use a seating app like Seat Guru to guarantee the perfect seat placement for you and your furry companion. Often, a couple extra inches of room under the seat in front of you makes a huge difference. 

Last minute change to your Pet’s flight?

Last minute cancellation? While everyone else is standing in line at the airport to rebook waiting for their turn with the reservationist, contact the airline directly on Facebook, they often respond faster. 

If you’re waiting in line, search for alternative flights so you can get the route you want, not just the one the airline offers.  Maybe you can get an overnight hotel stay instead of a red-eye flight the same day. 

See Flight Rights for more on this.

Best Onward Ticket 

Many countries require you to have proof of onward travel.  This is hard when you aren’t sure when you will leave or where you’re going next. 

Sites such as BestOnwardTicket book the flight ticket for you, forward the booking to you via email and they cancel 24-48 hours later—all for about $15usd. 

You can always book the return or onward flight yourself, but these sites save you the wait time to get a refund or if you forget to cancel the ticket in 24 hours after you land because you’re busy getting settled into your new destination. 

They do it for you for a small fee.  I’ve used this many times with no issue and I always get the booking email confirmation within a couple of hours.

US Embassy STEP

If you’re a US citizen, sign up for the US Embassy Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  They will know where you’re traveling, can expedite a lost passport and send you travel alerts, all directly to your phone.

UNESCO

I travel the world and when I’m researching a new location, I visit the UNESCO website to see the sites worth planning travel around or are close to a pet-friendly hotel I like.

International ATMs

I save money when I get cash. Many ATMs ask you to accept or decline 2 charges.  We are used to just hitting “accept” the fee to get cash. 

But, on many foreign ATMs, they ask you to accept or decline 2 fees.  Many travelers do not notice the second is optional. 

You should Accept the 1st request (bank’s fee for withdrawal) but, REJECT the 2nd request to accept the CONVERSION fee. This 2nd request changes the rate to one even more favorable to the bank. Decline the Conversion and you still get your money but only pay the ATM fee.= you get more cash.

Pay in Local Currency

When traveling internationally and paying for something with your card, a waiter or retailer may casually ask if you want the payment charged in your currency.

Choose to have the payment made in the local currency, you get a better exchange rate for your meal or purchase.

Atlanta Hartsfield Airport Poochie Park Deb Carr

Escorts to Pet Relief Areas

Many airports have escorts who can take you and your pet to a relief area outside of security, which removes the need to go back through long lines at TSA.  

If your airport doesn’t have a post-security relief area available or the ones before TSA are nicer, it may be worth it to ask about this service. Often the best relief areas are located before security controls.

Better Hotels Freebies 

Beyond toiletries, Hotels often offer free use of umbrellas, bicycles, a phone charger or plug adapter, free laundry bags and sewing kits—always handy to carry along with you. Those shower caps are great for packing shoes with grimy soles or covering opened bottles of liquids.

WithinHours

A handy website for road trips.  Just tell them where you are, how far you want to drive, and it tells you interesting places in driving distance of where you are.

Incognito Mode

Airline websites set cookies tracking your searches for flights.  They remember what flights you last searched for. Use incognito mode so it looks like a first search, and you may get a better rate.

Offline Google Maps

Don’t forget to download Google maps before you arrive for off-line use in your destination.  Wifi in airports is spotty at best. For those inevitable times when wifi is weak or you haven’t gotten a local sim card yet.

You can download your city with directions to your hotel or directions for the taxi or bus so you can settle in your first day with less hassle.

Charles Schwab for International Travel

A Charles Schwab account reimburses all international atm fees—all!  I get reimbursement once a month for every fee I pay at ATMs. 

I needed to open a brokerage account, transfer some funds to use for your travel, they send you a debit card and boom—no more dreaded ATM fees or searching for the cheapest ATM in the city.

Working in a foreign country?

You will likely need a Criminal Background Check from your home country.  If you plan to work in your new country, take the time to get a criminal background check completed before you leave. 

You may not need it but, when you do, often you must get it directly from you home country.  It’s easier (time and cost) while you’re in the new country than when long-distance. Particularly relevant for English Teachers abroad.

First Flight of the Day

When flight attendants travel on stand-by, they generally try to get on the first flight of the day, I do too.

It may be early, but these flights are usually cheaper because fewer people voluntarily pay to wake up and travel to an airport before 7 a.m.

These flights also have a higher “no-show” factor from other travelers, which accounts for passengers who overslept or decided the night before they weren’t taking their flight but, failed to cancel that reservation, so they just don’t show up.

This allows a higher likelihood for empty seats that could be given to those waiting on stand-by or gives me and my pet more space in flight.

Also, the first flight of the day is much more likely to be on time than those later in the day.  This is because often that aircraft remained overnight at the airport and is already in position for your morning flight. 

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to take an early morning flight, when weather delays a flight, airlines are not required to pay for a hotel or meals.

Booking the first flight gives the whole day to work with when finding another flight.

See Flight Rights for more info.

Book Your Pet Travel Directly with the Airline 

If there is a problem with getting a reservation for your pet, those who book directly with the airline will likely be given preference for that spot over someone who booked through a third-party (Expedia, Agoda).  

If there is a delay or change in your flight arrangements, you can go directly to the airline.  If you booked through a consolidator, the airline may tell you to go to the company you booked with. 

See: How to Book Your Pet to Fly In Cabin

If you booked directly, you only have to go to the airline.  They favor their customers and while another person is contacting the third-party, you are in direct contact.   

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Published by Stephanie Anne Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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