Whether you travel for business or for pleasure, whether it’s your first time or you’re a professional, it’s helpful to have a checklist of things to do before you leave the country. Some things are easy to overlook and can make or break your experience while abroad.
Like most things in life, planning is the most important step to making your trip a success:
Contact Banks/Credit Card Providers: Many banks will detect foreign transactions as fraudulent and will block transactions initiated abroad unless they were notified in advance. It’s good to travel with multiple methods of payment like bank cards, credit cards, and cash.
Email Travel Documents: Email documents including your travel itinerary, flight information, and hotel information including all important phone numbers both to you and a friend or family member at home. This way, if you lose the documents or someone needs to contact you, all pertinent information is easily accessible.
Copy the Contents of Your Wallet and Your Passport: Copy the front and back of everything in your wallet. Keep one copy at home and one in the hotel safe or other secure location while traveling. Having copies allows for quick cancelation and/or replacement if needed. While you can’t travel with a copy of your passport, having a copy will help get it replaced quicker if needed.
Cell Phone / Skype: If you plan to use your cell phone, be sure to talk with your provider about international plans to save expensive roaming charges while abroad. Consider opening and using a Skype account to communicate while abroad as this is a free internet service that allows you to video conference with anyone in the world.
Consider Power: Be sure to know both the plug and voltage differences where you plan to travel. Simply having a plug converter might not be enough if the voltage is different and your device doesn’t support multiple voltages. I learned this first hand and it isn’t pretty.
Stop Mail/Newspaper: Be sure to stop your mail/newspaper delivery.
Notify the State Department: Register with the State Department so they’ll know your whereabouts. While we don’t want to consider an emergency abroad, it’s better to be prepared and ensure they know where you are and for you to know where an embassy is.
Pick Up Travel Books: Even if you don’t have time to read them before you leave, read them on the plane to get a good idea of things to do, things to avoid, and ways to make the most of your trip.
While packing is fairly straightforward and doesn’t vary much from traveling domestically, there are some things you should consider when traveling abroad:
Power Convertor: Now that you know the power and plug configuration, be sure to pack the right device to power your electronics.
Carryon Luggage: Airlines are not perfect and luggage goes missing sometimes. If it does, you’ll want an extra set of clothes and important medications in your carryon to hold you over.
Medicine: Be sure to not only pack your medication but also bring an extra prescription and be sure you scope out local pharmacies at your travel destination just in case.
Antacid: Even if you don’t typically have digestion issues, when eating local cuisine, foods might not always sit well. You’d rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it!
You've planned, you’ve packed and it’s time to enjoy your trip. When traveling abroad here are some things to keep in mind:
Safety/Security: No matter where you’re traveling, you can’t be cautious enough, but when abroad, pay particular attention to your surroundings and travel in groups if possible. Keep your possessions held tightly and out of sight. Pick-pocketers thrive on unsuspecting, unaware tourists.
Access to Money: Most places accept credit cards and this is always a safe option. When exchanging currency, be sure to know the current exchange rate as not to get ripped off at a currency exchange center. Another solution is to use your ATM card. While you may pay ATM fees, you’ll likely save as the exchange rate will be calculated at the nightly inter-bank rate, which can be more advantageous than at currency exchange centers.
Internet Banking: It never fails; you forgot to pay a bill or need to transfer money. Don’t sweat; we’ve got you covered with our robust online banking suite.
Now it's time to enjoy your trip. Don’t hold back, enjoy the fine wine, great cuisine, memorable sights, and experiences that will last a lifetime.
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