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International Travel: See the World with Equity Estates

International Travel: See the World with Equity Estates

There’s something special about vacationing in another country. Walking cobblestone streets and seeing the sights in cities or villages that are thousands of years old; sunning on tropical beaches; experiencing new cultures, languages, and cuisines first-hand; touring historic landmarks; maybe even exploring a part of the world that your ancestors once called home—each trip abroad has the potential to expand your horizons and lead to unforgettable vacation memories.

But even with all the adventure and benefits of visiting far-off destinations, it’s possible to encounter a few bumps along the way, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Between long flights, time zone changes, visa requirements, cultural differences, and local customs, there’s a lot to navigate when you leave the States, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip abroad.

Our expert Equity Estates team is well-versed in the ins-and-outs of worldwide travel and are committed to helping investors create their best stress-free vacations in every destination. So, with that in mind—and with a few great suggestions from Jan Baker, a retired international flight attendant with years of travel experience—we’ve come up with a list of helpful tips and key things to keep in mind to ensure that your next overseas vacation goes as smoothly as possible from start to finish.

Pre-Travel Tips

Make vacation plans and reservations well in advance. Your Residence Manager and Local Hosts are always happy to answer questions, make suggestions, and arrange restaurant and activity reservations for you ahead of time.

Consider off-the-beaten-path attractions. Visit the must-see tourist sites, of course. But also make time to explore the city like a local.

Make sure your passport hasn’t expired and that you’re aware of the visa requirements of the country you’re visiting. New passports can take months to process, and visa requirements may change (see the European visa update below), so double check the information online as soon as you begin thinking of vacationing outside the US.

Keep up with health notices from the destination you’re visiting and remember to bring prescription medicines, OTC meds, and masks with you in case they’re needed. Try to adjust necessary medications to new time zones gradually.

Time zone changes, sleep deprivation, and long days/nights of traveling can wreak havoc on your internal clock. Prepare for jet lag and travel fatigue by easing into the time difference before you travel, staying hydrated throughout your trip, and taking short naps if needed.

Finally, whenever you’re traveling internationally, it’s important to consider whether or not you should spend the money on travel insurance. Forbes Advisor features great information on understanding and purchasing travel insurance, as well as helpful buying guides and a thorough list of companies offering policies to fit a variety of needs.

At the Airport and in the Air

Do what you can ahead of time to streamline things at the airport. Signing up for the TSA PreCheck may be worth the expense as it can help you move more quickly through security at US airports. Other programs, such as Global Entry or the free Mobile Passport Control App, are designed to help speed up re-entry into the US, so they’re also worth checking out if you’re looking to spend less time in line.

Currency exchange locations may be available at the international terminal in your originating airport, often with higher exchange rates than you’ll find at the ATMs in the airport of your destination. Check current rates online before traveling and be mindful of any extra fees you may incur.

Even if you have a carry-on in the overhead, make sure to keep a smaller bag with you in the seat for your phone, chargers, books, lip balm, snacks, etc. That way you won’t have to get up every time you need something.

Download movies, books, and videos to your devices ahead of time so you can enjoy them in the air even if you’re not able to access the plane’s Wi-Fi.

Remember to drink plenty of water and avoid salty foods on the flight. Airplane air is dry and it’s easy to get dehydrated, especially when you’re traveling for hours.

When returning home, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, and then go through customs and security as soon as you arrive. Once you’ve cleared customs, you can make use of the duty-free shopping near the gates if you want to pick up any last-minute souvenirs.

And though it’s not necessary, small gifts of pre-wrapped candies or chocolates are always welcomed by the flight attendants.

Reminders, Restaurants, and How Much to Tip

Be careful with your passport and other important documents. Make sure you don’t leave them in an airplane seat pocket. And, once you’ve settled into your Equity Estates home, put anything that you don’t need to carry with you someplace safe where they won’t be forgotten—perhaps tucking them into your suitcase pocket or keeping them with another item you’re sure you won’t leave behind.

This may be a minor detail, but air conditioning in many countries is not as widely available as it is in the US, something to be aware of if you’ll be doing a lot of shopping, sightseeing, and dining out during warmer-month vacations.

In many European restaurants, you may find tables and chairs grouped more closely together than you’re used to, shared bathrooms for men and women, and servers that are in no hurry for you to leave, as they don’t expect tips as in the US. While gratuities are always appreciated, how much to tip can vary depending on service and location, though frequent travelers usually tend to leave no more than 10% for table-service meals.

Another restaurant tip: in most countries, water isn’t served with meals, so be prepared to ask and be charged for it if you want it. Also remember to specify “without carbonation” if that’s your preference.

European Visa Changes in 2025

Starting in May 2025, a new travel authorization will be required for anyone traveling to Europe from the US and dozens of other countries. Based on the US ETAS program, the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) pre-screening program is aimed at identifying potential security and high-epidemic risks and will be required to enter 30 European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, and Austria.

The cost for the ETIAS pass will be about $7.50 per person, though travelers under 18 or over 70 won’t have to pay the fee. The travel pass is only good for short-term stays of 90 days or less, but will be valid for three consecutive years, so if you’re planning an annual trip to Europe, you’ll get even more bang for your buck.

The EITAS is not a visa, but an electronic visa waiver through pre-screening for US residents and citizens of other visa-exempt countries. The authorization will be linked to your passport, so if you must replace your passport for any reason, you’ll have to purchase a new travel pass as well.

You can learn more (and sign up for emails) at the ETIAS site. That’s also where you will apply for the initial ETIAS pre-screening check once the application form is open.

At Home Around the World with Equity Estates

Our Equity Estates portfolio features luxury vacation homes in over a dozen incredible countries around the world, as well as a long list of high-end reciprocal properties that are also available to investors. From Italy and the UK to Costa Rica, France, Spain, Greece, and more—if vacationing overseas is on your must-do list, let us know and we’ll be happy to help you plan and experience a vacation of a lifetime. The world awaits!