Kristina Bielichenko

Kristina Bielichenko

Singer, Bolt Band

Today I want to share with you 10 things to do before you travel abroad. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first trip or if you’ve already been overseas many times.

 

1. Passport and Documents

The most important thing is your international passport. What you need to do is to check your passport expiration date. To enter many countries, your passport should be valid for at least 06 months. But my personal suggestion is to make sure that your expiration date is 02 years ahead in case you want to stay longer overseas after your official contract is over. 

Also in some countries, you can make a second international passport if your expiration date is coming up, or you’re running out of pages. For example; in Ukraine, it costs 50 USD, and it takes 10 to 14 working days to process. But if you apply overseas, it takes 30 to 90 days to renew your passport or to add pages. 

Depending on where you’re from, make sure that you bring all of your important documents with you.  Such as: 

  • National ID or Citizenship Card 
  • Driver’s license 
  • Others

Make sure that you make copies of all of them just in case your documents get lost or stolen. Also, leave some copies at home, and keep another set of copies in a safe place while traveling. Although it’s rare that anything might happen to your documents, you never know. I’ve heard of musicians and singers losing their passports, work permits, or other important documents in foreign countries. This creates a huge problem because in such cases, they must return home to renew such documentation, and in the process, they lose their jobs. 

2. Insurance

A must! Get your own international insurance that covers expenses related to medical and dental emergencies. For example, in countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, medical and dental services are extremely expensive. So should anything happen to you, you can claim for reimbursement. Some companies may offer to help you get insurance coverage but if they don’t, it’s crucial that you get your own.  Remember: your health is everything, especially when you’re away from home.

3. Credit cards and Cash money

Nowadays, people have bank accounts, debit, and or credit cards. Before traveling, always check with your bank to ensure that your current card is valid at least for the duration of long term travels. If not, you’ll need to apply for a  new one and that might take 10 to 14 working days.  Remember to notify your bank about your travel plans; when, where, and approximately how long you will be traveling.  Depending on your bank, and although rare, there have been reported cases of debit and credit cards being refused and even canceled during overseas transactions.  If you don’t have a bank account yet, do it today.

Personally, I have a bank account in Ukraine, China, and Singapore. It’s very helpful. Especially in Asia, where in some cases, they don’t accept cash money, you can pay from your phone. Another great solution is to shop online.

Cash money: There is a limit as to how much cash you can carry as you’re about to travel. It’s usually between $5,000 to $10,000 USD. You may want to verify with your bank before leaving to make sure that you are within the allowed limits. Countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Maldives, and the Philippines operate more so on a cash system. When you’re out and about, always keep your cash in the safest same place. A money belt is always a great solution.

4. Medicines, vitamins, and supplements 

In case some of the countries or cities that you travel to don’t carry your prescription medicines or health supplements, you must ensure that you have enough to last you for the duration of your travels. It’s also a good idea to bring a prescription or copy of your prescription to show other doctors, in case you need to renew overseas because, in some countries, certain prescription drugs are considered illegal. For peace of mind and comfort, you should bring your non-prescription medicine on board such as medicine for the common flu, headache, stomach ache, and other symptoms that may cause discomfort on your journey.

I strongly suggest that you plan to build a strong immune system as you prepare for your travels. Stay healthy, hydrated, and get proper sleep. It’s common to catch cold or other symptoms onboard planes and other modes of public transportation. On most planes, the air conditioning system is very cold so you’ll be glad to have all that your body may need.

5. Baggage Information

You must pack your bags according to carry-on and check-in luggage restrictions. Weight limits and quantities vary with each airline. Also, if you’re already overseas and continue to travel, rules and limitations of luggage can change from your last trip and country to country. Read all luggage allowance information on the official website of the airline that you’ll be flying with. These allowances may vary between 20kg and 30kg for economy class. However, some airlines will charge you extra if you surpass the limits, and fees can vary or be added to your return trip.  So double-check all information and when in doubt, call your airline for more specifics, and pack your bags accordingly. Otherwise, you may be charged excess baggage fees upon arrival at the check-in counter where they may ask for cash only. This would be an unfortunate, unnecessary expense, this would slow down your check-in process and you don’t want to be late for your flight. 

6. Musical Equipment 

Most musicians must travel with their musical instruments or other equipment. This can be a “nightmare” because not all airline companies allow carry-on instruments such as guitar, bass guitar or large wind instruments due to size and, or weight. The best solution is to have hard cases for your equipment in order to avoid damage upon checking them in. Important: batteries are forbidden onboard flights so ensure that you remove them from carry-on luggage, your microphone, or any other device that runs on regular batteries. 

7. Power bank

This is essential when traveling. iPhone batteries don’t last for very long and in some airports, there may be no charging stations so you’ll be glad to have a fully charged power bank with you. For long durations, buy those that are at least 10,000 or 13,000 milliamperes. Remember to keep it in your carry-on or hand luggage for access. Don’t put it in your check-in suitcase! And double-check that it’s fully charged before you go.

8. Casual clothes

Most, if not all, 5-star hotels’ restaurants and bars have a dress code in place. Therefore, singers and musicians must dress accordingly, meaning that they must have suitable outfits on all of the hotels’ premises and venues. You can’t walk around wearing shorts and slippers. You must look your best at all times in order to remain presentable. 

Before going overseas, I suggest that you find out about the weather of the country that you are about to travel to. Will it be sunny, humid, fresh, or winter cold? This knowledge will enable you to purchase or pack the proper wardrobe for all of your needs. Otherwise, you may end up needing to purchase abroad presenting unnecessary spending, and taking a chance of not finding your size.

9. Stage outfits and shoes

As much as possible, try to bring as many of your own instead of counting on going shopping upon arrival to your host country.  From personal experience, during the first two to three weeks, you won’t have time to shop. Also, keep in mind that even if you shop online and depending on your orders, you may need to wait at least three to seven days for delivery. The best solution is to prepare enough outfits for your first month; both casual and especially stage clothes. Choose your best outfits: black, white, blue, red, pink, yellow, and try to make sure that your clothing items are interchangeable so that you can mix and match thus creating different outfits. Be creative!  

As for shoes, make sure that they are very attractive and of good quality for durability since you’ll be dancing for hours on end night after night. You don’t need to bring that many but enough pairs to vary your outfits. For those of you who wear size 9 (40) and above, remember to bring your shoes from home. You may not find your size in some countries. For those who have smaller shoe sizes, you’ll easily be able to buy them abroad.   

10. Other necessities

If you are a performer, you need to look good and smell great at all times. Take along your favorite perfume(s) and colognes with you or buy some at the airport duty-free – however, you may not find your brand there. Don’t forget to buy and bring your favorite cosmetics, face and body care with you. Other things are up to you if you still have space in your suitcase. My necessaries are M.A.C cosmetics products, Korean face skincare, Chloe perfume, and my favorite hair products.

No matter where you travel to, try to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your departure. Double-check your passport before you leave home. Save all the information that you may need, on your phone before flying. Leave nothing to the last minute. Have a safe flight and an unforgettable journey! Let’s sing and travel together.  

Kristina Bielichenko