It’s easy to get so excited in planning your trip abroad, that you forget about everything that needs to get taken care of beforehand. Whether you’re a first time international traveler or just need a refresher course, here are 10 necessary steps to take before traveling abroad:
1. Paging Doctor Vanderkamp
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but fruit doesn’t prevent measles. Many foreign countries require shots for various conditions such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), typhoid, and even hepatitis C. Not going somewhere with vaccine requirements? You should still make it a priority to check in with your doc and get a physical. You want to be in tip-top shape during your trip.
2. Notify Your Bank
It’s true that travel is the only thing you buy that will make you richer. However, you’re still going to need buy things abroad! Set up a travel notice with your bank, either online or over the phone. This lets the bank know to not shut down your account when they see spending in another country. Also take the time to research the best place to convert your money and commit the exchange rate to memory.
3. Tread Legally
You might be traveling for a short time, but your destination could still require a visa. Investigate your destination’s travel visa requirements and get all your documents squared away A.S.A.P. Arriving and not being allowed in the country, or having to delay your travels, will not be a hilarious, quirky story to tell your friends back home- it will be a pain in the ass.
4.Get it on Record
Once you have your financial and legal items completed, make records! Take a picture of your credit cards and passport and keep a digital copy with you (I recommend storing these documents on a flash drive that you keep with you at all times–you obviously don’t want to have your credit card number floating around). In case your credit card or passport go missing, you’ll have the information on hand as reference and can show it to any necessary inquiring parties.
5. Make it Rain
Pull out cash before leaving your home town. That way, you won’t be hit with hefty ATM fees at your destination, and will have the money accessible when you need to exchange your currency.
6. Pick a Lifeline
Choose someone you know at home to be your “lifeline.” In case something goes wrong on your travels, this will be the person you contact. You can depend on this person to contact your bank, employer, or family on your behalf. If you find yourself imprisoned in Vietnam, you trust that they will find a way to get you out (and hopefully not tell your boss). Additionally, this could be the same person you ask to keep an eye on your house and water your plants (if they live close enough). Definitely bring a cheesy souvenir back for this kind soul.
7. Figure out Arrival Logistics
I’m a firm believer in not over-planning vacations. I find it more fun to be spontaneous and explore the city on your own means. However, you need to figure out airport transportation at your destination. Make sure you have a secure place to stay your first night in town, and map out a way to get there. This could be as simple as knowing that taxis pick up outside of terminal 1, or as complicated as committing several bus routes to memory. You’ll feel more relaxed when you arrive and will be able to soak up more of your surroundings.
8. Hey, Mr. Postman
If you’re going to be gone for a considerable amount of time you need to place a hold on your mail. This lets the post office know to hold your mail for you, so that you don’t have to sucker a poor neighbor into taking it in. After the hold is completed, you’ll have the option to pick up the mail from the nearest UPS or have your mailman deliver several weeks worth of mail at once, in all its coupon-y glory.
9. Dial ‘1’ for Preparedness
In a time in which we hardly go anywhere without our smart phones, it’s tough to imagine leaving our cyber sidekicks behind. When you take a phone abroad, you’re going to be slapped with mountainous feeds to talk or text. If you must take along your smart phone, be it to use it as an alarm clock or camera, simply set your phone in airplane mode. You won’t receive calls or texts but will still have a fully functional technological companion. Pay as you go phones will be available in your destination if you need to meet up with locals.
10. Don’t Get Caught With an Empty Stomach
I think about food while I eat food. Seriously. But in all seriousness, it pays to be prepared. You could get stuck on a long flight with no sustenance or find yourself delayed at the airport, unwilling to hawk up $15 for a granola bar. Stash food like nuts, dried fruit, or jerky in your bag so you never go hungry. And hey, passing out snacks to people on your flight is a surefire way to make new friends.
Alright, you’re ready to take on the globe! Keep these easy 10 travel tips in mind and of course, never forget to call your mom and tell her you love her before take-off.