Shannon McMahon, SmarterTravel.com | November 25, 2015
Planning and preparing for a trip abroad is best done ahead of time. Booking flights and accommodations, of course, are usually booked months in advance, but don’t stop there. You should spend time preparing to ensure your health, safety and financial necessities are covered while traveling.
But most of your preparation should be dedicated to ensuring health, safety, and financial necessities are covered. Read through this extensive list oftravel tips to make sure you’re ready.
Most Important Travel Tip: Safety first
Travel insurance and state department alerts can seriously help when you find yourself in an emergency situation abroad. Most travelers believe they won’t need evacuation assistance or coverage for hotel or flight cancellations, but when you do find yourself in these emergency situations abroad, travel insurance and state department alerts will seriously help.
According to Skift.com, the harsh winter weather last year caused around $5.3 billion in lost productivity and out-of-pocket travel costs, including a lot of cancelled flights–nearly double the typical winter average.
You can find travel insurance for only a few dollars per day, and can save you hundreds sometimes even thousands of dollars, covering everything from replacing your broken camera to emergency medical care.
Subscribing to the State Department’s STEP alerts for your destination ahead of time can help you prepare for travel restrictions, strikes and areas of political unrest. This helps you prepare for what to expect when you’re there.
Travel Tips for Documents and Banking
Check that your passport and travel visas, if needed, are up to date well in advance of your trip. Most countries require your passport to be valid for six months after your return. Make copies of your passport and any important documents you’d need in case of loss or theft. Keep physical copies with you and digital copies on your cell phone and email. Share your itinerary and numbers to reach you with family and friends in case of emergency.
Inform your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans so you don’t have any issues making purchases abroad. Inquire about international ATM fees as well so you know which ones to use and which to avoid. In case your wallet is lost or stolen and you have to cancel your debit or credit cards, bring an un-activated debit or credit card with you.
If traveling abroad, get vaccinated
Be sure to get all required vaccinations well ahead of your trip. Some vaccines can sell out unexpectedly, which could prevent you from traveling until it is restocked. Some required multiple rounds given days, weeks or months apart. It’s a smart idea to talk to your doctor about the CDC-recommended shots since vaccine protocols vary by country. For example, the U.S. recommends visitors from Colombia have the yellow fever vaccine before entering the country, while 159 other countries require it. Be sure to keep your proof of vaccinations in your carry-on in case you need it during customs.
Vital Travel Tip: Study Up
In the age of technology, it is easier than ever to learn about a foreign country. Download one of the many travel tip apps, surf the Internet or read an actual guidebook to gain valuable travel tips about where you’re traveling. Be sure to learn about money conversion, useful local phrases (and phrases to avoid), tipping policies, appropriate clothing and cultural and legal customs. Educate yourself so you don’t end up in any compromising or dangerous situations. For example, wearing camouflage in the Maldives and bringing gum into Singapore are acts punishable by law.
Travel Tips for Your Own Home
Don’t forget about your own home while traveling abroad. Make a list of daily tasks that need to be covered while you’re away, such as watering your plants, or picking up your mail and ask a neighbor, friend or relative to do them for you.
You can also hire a house or pet sitter to watch your home and/or animals while you’re away by listing on TrustedHouseSitters.com. You can also use the site to find free accommodations abroad if you plan ahead of time.
Travel Tips for Staying Connected
Research the many options available for cell phone use abroad before you leave–”unlock” your own phone so you can use it through a foreign carrier, purchase an international prepaid SIM card, or sign up for a phone rental or plan abroad if you’ll be staying long-term. Using your own phone abroad without an international plan can result in outrageous roaming charges. Talk to your cell phone carrier about the best option for you and be sure everything is all set before you go.
Download the Necessities
Downloading necessities to your mobile phone, tablet or computer ahead of time can save you serious headaches, and often money. Download in-flight entertainment and make sure it’s available without wi-fi in case your TV doesn’t work or you don’t like the airline offered options. Amazon prime allows users to download entertainment ahead of time, Spotify allows paying users to download music and create playlists for offline use, the free music app Hype Machine makes certain tracks available offline as well and you can buy movies, TV shows or music on iTunes.
Download offline maps to your smartphone to navigate a foreign city when you don’t have access to wi-fi. Apps like Google Maps or CityMaps2Go let you use your GPS without using data or draining battery life. It’s smart to bring a portable backup charger with you when traveling to ensure your phone doesn’t die when you need it most.
Travel Tips for Packing: Don’t Forget These Essentials
It’s always the smartest idea to pack essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked luggage is lost, plus you never know when you’ll need them in-flight or during customs.
When traveling abroad, be sure not to forget the following in your carry-on:
● Passport and visa, if needed
● Insurance and ID cards
● Cash, debit and credit cards
● Pen for customs forms
● Portable backup charger
● Ear plugs, eye mask, natural sleep aid
● Electrical converters/adapters for your destination
● Sanitizing wipes
● Sweater/scarf for the plane
● Plastic bags
● Cameras and memory cards
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