I travel across the Atlantic once or twice a year. In that time I have, of course, learned some useful things in that time. Here they are:
Price wise, know what you are going to do ahead of time and book it. Flights, hotels and cars are cheaper is you plan ahead.
Use a backpack (rucksack). In some places this type of bag is associated only with students. But let me tell you that they are one of the best things to take anywhere. Large enough to fit clothes, toiletries, laptop, electronics, etc… and fit under the plane seat. If you check your travel bags they may end up being delayed. If you keep a few essentials in your backpack, you will not have to wait for a change of clothes. You don’t carry it either. You wear it. If you are going through a few airports to your destination you will want a few of your things with you at all times. Carrying or even rolling a bag can be rather awkward or tiring. It just makes travel easier.
Centralized charging is handy too. What do I mean? If you can use electronics that can be charged via USB, it will be much easier to find a compatible port. The USB spec has been a part of computers for over 10 years. If you can find a computer, you can charge your device. Most cell phones are charged via the USB spec. Cameras that charge with USB are a bit harder to find. If you have a nice enough camera on your phone, you may not want another camera. Though I would recommend it. They just have better pictures. For devices that must use a wall socket, a global adapter is easy to find online. You may be able to use a cigarette lighter for your charging needs, as well.
Keeping in touch is useful. You may need to give a phone number for various services in your travel country, want to rendezvous with someone you have met or keep in touch with friends at home. Having a local number will be useful. If your bags are delayed the return service will want a number. Texting is common to communicate with ones you will meet, often because it is cheaper than a phone call. The same with keeping in touch with home. You can use your cell phone overseas if it is an unlocked, quadband GSM phone. Using your home number will be very expensive. The cheapest way to go is to get a local SIM card. It will be cheapest for you and the people who contact you. Prepaid cards are common and easy to find. If language is an issue, it can be nice to have a smartphone with the appropriate translation software. The software should NOT use the internet, as this will cost you money. http://www.gosim.com has a service that gives you a number that does not expire and decent rates in many countries. But it is not a local number (it’s usually Estonian) http://www.cellularabroad.com can usually get you a good local SIM. But like most prepaid services, the number will eventually expire with no activity on it. Personally, I keep a number through GoSim and E-Plus (a German mobile company). I have the GoSim number for Emergencies or traveling with someone that does not have a functional phone. And the E-Plus for common use. I spend most of my time in Europe in Germany, so E-Plus works well. I keep my E-Plus number active by buying minutes on the cellularabroad website every 5 months.
Learn a few things in the local language. “Hello”, “how are you?”, “I am fine”, “please, “thank you” and “goodbye”. It’s just polite. Learning food language maybe important too. It seems that often people who are in the food service often speak only the local language and if they are foreign, their native language.
Good shoes. Airports or around town, you will probably walk a lot. Personally, I prefer shoes with little padding that are fairly flat (not pointing upward at the toe). Curvy heavily padded shoes hurt my back and leg joints. If you are older you may need something with more padding in the heel or air cushions in the soles. I can walk all day in shoes with leather and wood soles. If you are used to shoes with lots of padding, try something different. You will probably love it. By the way, I have not had a blister in many years.
Money. Local currency is usually needed at some point. Though, many places may have credit cards, many will not. I like to have some cash when I arrive in the country. Wells Fargo bank offers a service that allows you to order currency online. You can step off the plane with money in pocket. A credit card with a pin will allow you to obtain money at an ATM for a charge and conversion fee. Many credit card companies charge a 3% or $5 transaction fee for every use of the card away from your country. Capital One does not currently charge such fees. If you have a strict budget, just use cash that you ordered or obtained from an ATM. Don’t keep going back to an ATM if you don’t need to.
Plan to sleep on the plane. Fly out at a time that lets you sleep. Take something that will help you sleep. Warm milk, alcohol (probably not beer), something from the drug store, decaffeinated tea, whatever relaxes you. It may be loud on the plane. Plan on having a hard time getting to sleep. I can fall asleep in almost any position but I have a hard time sleeping well on a plane.
If I think of more I will put them in this post.