If you are like me, most of the time I travel, I head to the airport wondering if I did everything I needed to do before I leave. In that vein, here is a list of 15 important things to do before you travel. I think I’ll be checking these off before every trip so I feel less anxious.
Make sure that your passport is current and that you have packed it. I constantly am checking and rechecking this. Also, make sure you are taking your current passport. Remember my travel mistake to London where I grabbed the wrong one. You don’t want to make that same mistake!
Take a couple of copies of your passport and put them in different areas just in case you lose your passport. It will help you get home much easier. My husband once left his passport in a cab and this would have helped us immensely if we had not been able to recover his passport. Luckily, we contacted the cab and they returned it to us. I always have copies of our passports with us.
Most countries want you to have a passport that is not going to expire within 6 months so check that also. I once saw a woman being refused entry to a flight to London because her passport was expiring too soon after her planned departure.
Another important consideration is having enough empty pages in your passport. I have had to get another passport before the 10 years is up just because I was running out of pages. (Horrible problem, huh?)
Sadly, I’ve been burned a couple of times by making reservations for the wrong night. Once I booked a night and we got to the hotel and they said, “Oh we were expecting you last night!” Talk about a rapid heart rate increase! Luckily, they were very kind and let us stay that night we arrived without charging us again.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky the time I booked a night in London not taking into account that I was flying during the night. I just lost that extra $200 I paid for a room while I slept on the plane. Always, always double-check that your lodging is correct before you fly or drive to your destination.
I would also add to my list of important things to do before I travel to print my reservation information. You can usually find it on a device but I’ve gotten a little panicky when the internet doesn’t work well at a location.
Just for safety sense, print out your itinerary or send it to family members. Since I travel more than my husband, I always print this out for him. That way if he can’t reach me by telephone, he can call where I am staying. It makes him feel more secure and me also.
Not every airline (especially foreign) has the same luggage restrictions. I remember traveling to Italy and finding out that the carry-on luggage restriction was much smaller than what I normally had in the United States. I ended up having to check on baggage and that increased my travel costs. Double-check as you plan your travel so you can better plan what to pack.
Unless you are traveling in Business Class or First Class, airline food is horrible and/or expensive. If I travel in economy, I will pick up a nice sandwich and pack some tasty and somewhat healthy snacks for the trip. This ensures that I arrive at my destination not completely starved. Even better, I try to make a stop at an airport lounge for some free food and beverages before every flight! Love those credit cards that give me airport lounge access!
Make sure you have the following items packed so they are handy for your trip:
If you are traveling internationally, be sure and research if you need a Visa. I needed one in Vietnam, China, and Turkey. Here is a list of countries that require visas. It would be a horrible mistake to not know this ahead of time and plan accordingly. It is definitely an important thing to put on your list of things to do before traveling.
Buy yourself some packing cubes! They have literally changed my life and the way I pack for trips. I seldom check bags now because these cubes let me pack so much more in a carry-on suitcase! Most of the people I now travel with have been converted to using them too!
Nothing says, “I’m on vacation” more than mail, newspapers, and boxes piled up. For safety reasons, let your carriers know you will be gone and have them hold your items. Alternatively, arrange for a friend or relative to pick them up.
Once on a cruise, my credit card company refused my charges because they thought they were fraudulent. A quick call rectified the situation but it would have been easier, and less embarrassing if I had notified them beforehand. Here is a quick reference on how to notify your bank about your travel plans.
Travel Insurance can literally save the day. We’ve had multiple experiences where travel insurance helped a trip from turning sour. Luckily, if you book your trip with the right card, it can be free. If not, buying insurance can help you save tons of money. I have used it to pay for doctor’s visits when I had Strep in China, pay for clothes and toiletries when luggage was delayed for 3 days in Greece and it paid for my sister’s surgery when she fell off an ATM in Mexico.
This program is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll in their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They can then let you know about national disasters and emergencies and help your loved ones contact you in case of one. Just let them know where you are going and how long you will be there and you can travel safer.
In the United States, I often rent a car from the airport. A few times, I waited until the last minute and it cost a lot more. We recommend Autoslash for booking your rental car.
If I travel internationally, I prefer to get a private or shared shuttle and will read reviews to find the best ones. It is important to book these early too. I hesitate to get in a taxi if I am traveling alone (too much Dateline watching) but will use one when traveling with friends or my husband.
Speaking from experience, it is not fun to come home to a smelly house. Make sure you take out the trash, clean the sink out and run the disposable, run the dishwasher, and throw out or give away any food that will go bad while you are away.
This is huge on your list of things to do for a trip. Recently, I was expecting warm weather in Palm Springs and brought lots of shorts. It was colder and I ended up wearing some joggers over and over.
Another time, in Italy, the weather was unseasonably cold and I had to buy some mittens, scarves, and extra outerwear. You can usually check the 10-day weather forecast so be sure and do that. And pack comfortable shoes! I’ve had to buy those too!
If you remember to do these 15 things before you travel, your odds of having a great trip are increased. Being prepared takes the worry and problems of traveling. What other things should we add to this list?
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