You’ve been counting down for ages and your trip is finally just around the corner. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first international adventure, here’s 11 things you should always do before traveling overseas to ensure you’ll have a great trip.
Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad
Inform Your Bank or Credit Card Company of Travel
It’s important to let your bank or credit card company know of any upcoming travels so that they don’t accidentally flag your international charges as unusual activity. You certainly don’t want to be halfway across the world when your credit card is declined because your bank thinks some fraudster is trying to hack your account when in reality you’re just trying to pay for your lunch.
Make Sure Your Passport is Valid & Check Visa Requirements
To travel internationally you’ll need to have a valid passport issued by your home country. To apply for a US passport, you can go online to print an application. Be sure to apply for your new or renewed passport with plenty of time prior to your travel date. It can take 6 weeks or longer for processing.
In addition to needing a valid passport, some countries have Visa requirements to visit. Since you may need to apply for a Visa, it’s important to be familiar with the requirements of your destination especially since it can take time to complete the application process and receive the visa.
Print Out Travel Documents
Call me old school but for every trip we take, I always carry a folder in my carry on with all of our travel information. As I plan each trip, I file away each reservation – flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. and when planning a cruise vacation, I have my itinerary, boarding pass and any excursion info in my folder. This folder has EVERYTHING I need to know about our trip and I always make sure to pack it in case I need to reference something.
Check Weight Limit and Baggage Policy for Your Airline
Avoid surprises at the airport by checking the weight limits and baggage policy for your airline. The rules vary by airline – while some allow the first bag free, others charge for anything beyond a small carry on. Airlines impose weight limits, too.
I’m notorious for packing my suitcase to the brim because I’m a girl who loves shoes and I need lots of outfit options on vacation. I am who I am and my husband knows I’ll find a way to pack it all in while still coming in under the airline weight limits. I leave just enough room in my bag to bring home a few souvenirs. I’ve never had to pay an over-weight fee thanks to my trusty travel scale. We also fly Southwest Airlines often and their “2 bags fly for free” policy has also been a lifesaver!
Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is essential when traveling out of your home country. If you’ve spent any time on my site, you know I’m a huge advocate for travel insurance and don’t travel without it. Check out my post about Why Travel Insurance Is A Must Have.
Your credit card may come with insurance but personally, I prefer to purchase a policy because it covers you in the event of illness or emergency, lost or stolen property, canceled flights, trip delay as well as additional coverages that you can add.
Check With Your Cell Phone Carrier for Coverage
As a rule, I usually check with our carrier a week or two before travel. In the past, we would add an international texting package to my phone as a means to stay in touch with family and friends. In more recent years, many of the cell phone providers have begun offering international packages. The packages vary in cost such as a set fee per day or per trip but they allow you to have full use of your phone and avoid those pesky roaming and data charges.
For example, our provider AT&T offers an international day pass which is $10.00 a day. This is especially helpful when cruising because we only pay for the port days when we want to check in at home or might need to call a taxi.
Put Your Mail on Hold
Our typical vacation is anywhere from 7-14 days and trust me when I say A LOT of mail can pile up during that time. Save your mail carrier the hassle of trying to stuff your mail into your box by placing a mail hold. If you’re in the US, you can easily place a mail hold online. Just fill out this form and upon your return, your mail will be delivered.
Schedule the Petsitter
Since our pup can’t always travel with us, we have family members who are happy to step in and care for her while we are away. In the event that our family is unable to dog sit, we have also found some great sitters in our area through Rover.com. Get $20 toward your first booking with this link.
Check the Weather
It’s always a good practice to check the weather at your destination before traveling, especially if you book a cruise during hurricane season. Not only will having an overview of the weather help you know how to pack for your trip, but it can also help you plan activities. If you’re traveling to a destination that gets cool in the evening, you’ll want to pack a jacket to stay warm. The same goes for activities, you don’t want to plan a beach day when there’s rain in the forecast.
Find Out if Free Wifi Will be Offered at Your Destination
If you prefer to avoid adding an international plan to your phone, one way to call for free is to use wifi. Depending on where you’re traveling and where you’re staying, hotels and resorts often have free wifi. Sometimes you can find a restaurant or other business that offers free wifi. When we visited Dreams Las Mareas in Costa Rica, we didn’t need an international plan on our phone. We just turned our phone on airplane mode and connected to the resort’s wifi. Since myself and my family all have iPhones, we are able to use Facetime (audio calls or video calls) and iMessage to stay in contact via wifi.
You can also use the free app, WhatsApp, to call or message via wifi. Beware, if you’re cruising, you’ll need to purchase an additional internet plan for the ship’s wifi in order to avoid getting hit with crazy data charges from your cell phone provider.
Get Prescriptions Filled
Make sure to consult with your doctor on any prescriptions you may need. Get any refills and ensure you have enough medication to last through your trip, plus a few extra days in case of an emergency or delayed return.
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