There’s a big world out there and you have planned to travel it. Now what? Believe it or not, with a few exceptions international travel can be just as convenient as domestic travel. Before you take your trip, though, there are a few things you should remember to do or take with you. You’ve packed your swimsuit and underwear, but what else do you need?
A Passport! If you do not have one yet, then you definitely need to fill out an application for one. It takes about six weeks from the mailing date to receive your passport, so make sure you leave yourself enough time between applying for one and your trip. You do not want to miss your plane because of poor planning. You can expedite it, if you really need to, and get it a few weeks earlier, but why waste $60?
An International Driving Permit (or IDP). If you will be doing any driving in a foreign country, make sure to look at the rules of the road. You might need to get an IDP before you leave in order to be eligible to get behind the wheel. Some countries are fine with just your valid driver’s license, but plenty of countries require you to also carry one of these. You can get one at your local AAA travel store for a reasonable fee. You do not have to be a member to qualify. Show up photo-ready and smile for the camera.
Contact your bank. Sometimes your bank (and credit card companies) see an unusual charge on your account and will flag it as such and put your account on hold. This is great if someone stole your card and is using it all over Puerto Rico. It’s not so great if you are actually on vacation and trying to pay for dinner or your hotel room with that card. Make sure to notify your bank, and any credit card company whose card you will be using, to let them know when and where you will be on vacation, so you do not put yourself in an embarrassing, and frustrating, situation.
Copies of your passport, credit cards and ID. Have you ever been on a trip and lost any of these valuable items? Well, make sure you keep it that way, or at least be prepared. If your passport, ID or credit cards are ever lost or stolen on vacation, make sure you have back-up copies for emergencies. It is something you can show at the U.S. embassy in order to hurry along the process in getting a new one to you as soon as possible. Having your credit cards copied are great for having the numbers on-hand (if needed) and also the numbers for customer service to report that they have been lost or stolen. Do not carry these with you, but make sure you scan them and either email them to yourself or keep them in an online storage file, like Dropbox, for easy access.
Important phone numbers and addresses. You never know what might happen, but it is possible that you may “misplace” your itinerary with your hotel address or other important information on it. Have a back-up copy. Either enter those crucial items into your phone or add them to an online itinerary, which you can access by your smart phone or laptop. A great one that allows you to add as much info as you want, as well as share it with anyone you want, is TripIt. Now, no matter where you are, you can find the confirmation for your dinner reservation, contact info for a tour you are running late for or your flight number.
There is so much to explore in the world and with just a little extra planning, you can be organized and ready to go anywhere and anything life throws at you along the way. Once that part of your trip planning is taken care of, you can focus on learning foreign phrases and deciding where to eat and shop when you get there.
About the Author
Shereen Rayle is author of the blog Shereen Travels Cheap and a book of the same name that will be published in late 2011. For years she has been planning her own vacations using the Internet to extend her limited budget as far as possible and shares the tips and tricks she has learned, along with useful sites like FareCompare.com, to help others get the most out of their travel dollars. And to further inspire budget travelers everywhere, she finds terrific travel bargains and posts them each day on her Facebook page.