The key to having a great travel experience is starting off prepared and organized. Nothing can put a damper on a vacation then suddenly remembering you forgot to pay your mortgage bill or turn off the air conditioner on the upper floor. Whenever I leave my home for an extended period of time I usually go through a pre-travel checklist.
Do this way in advance. This way you’ll avoid incurring extra fees to have your passport rushed. Keep in mind most countries will not allow entry if your passport is due to expire within 6 months. Always double check visa/passport regulations of the foreign countries you will be visiting.
Reconfirm/Check-in online with airline
I tend to often times skip this step, thinking I have email confirmation why do I need to double check my booking. Well guess what? I have been bumped from flights magically many a time due to overbooking with no fault of mine. There is nothing more annoying than rushing to get to the airport on time, and come to find out you’re not going anywhere due to some computer glitch bumping you from your scheduled flight.
Check flight info airline & times
Oh yes flight schedules can change, and they do. Double check.
You do not need to purchase a fancy luggage tag to make it personal. Try tying bright colored ribbon to the luggage handle. This will help differentiate your black bag from a 100 others. Don’t forget to fill out a airline luggage tag available at the check-in center with your home address and the address that you will be staying, if you know it. This extra step will help your luggage return to you a lot faster if it is lost.
Insurance: Trip cancellation/medical
Insurance can help with the financial burden if travel changes need to be made or in case of medical emergency. Even if your ticket is refundable, the airline often keeps a hug portion of the original airfare if you cancel. It’s almost like you are not receiving a refund at all but only a small portion of the money you spent on the airfare. In the event of necessary medical treatment most primary insurance providers will not cover you abroad. Check out Allianz’s travel insurance program, they are my go to travel insurance.
It’s always a good practice to carry a good amount of currency of the country you will be visiting. Often times in the United States we rely on debit and credit cards to get us through. Keep in mind many countries throughout the world are heavily cash-based societies. Do a little research before hand where you can get the best exchange rate. Usually a good rule of thumb is to avoid the airport and hotel exchange desks. Best bet is a local bank.
Check local destination weather/news
Checking weather will help you pack accordingly. You don’t want to end up shopping for a new wardrobe because you assumed and packed for beach weather and it turned out to be cold and rainy the whole duration of your stay.
Confirm your hotel has Wifi
In this day and age we often assume wifi connection is everywhere and readily available. Often times, not the case. Internet has become a necessity to help us get around and explore. Most hotels have wifi, but in case internet access is not available you should print out your itinerary from home, as well as places you would like to visit.
Inform your bank where you will be traveling
When a transaction is made outside of your daily routine credit/debit card information systems send up a red flag. For your protection, a hold is put on all transactions. Unfortunately this could occur at the worst moment of your journey. Plan ahead and notify your bank where and how long you will be traveling.
Double-check your mobile carrier’s international plans
Every carrier has different rates for different countries and its best to assess what your costs could be at the get-go. If costs are high with your carrier turn off all mobile data in your phone’s settings and avoid calling and texting. Don’t get blown away on your return home from an outrageously overpriced mobile phone bill.
Pack basic medications
There’s nothing worse than feeling ill on the road. Don’t make things worse by running around for medication while you’re sick. Pack a small Ziploc bag with the following over-the-counter medications.
- Products to relieve stomach upset/diarrhea/ constipation
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for headaches and small aches and pains
- Antibacterial ointment for scrapes and cuts
- Antihistamine ointment for insect bites
- Eye drops for dry, dusty climates
Home preparation just before for your trip
Pay all bills/utilities
Forward or hold mail/newspaper/magazines
Remove perishables from the fridge, try using them up if you can,
Take out the trash
Empty pet food bowls.
Store valuables in a safe place
As you are stepping out the door
Turn off heater/air conditioner
Lock all doors and windows
Set house alarm
Last minute check of passport, documents, keys, and wallet.
Take a deep breathe, exhale smile because you are on you way.