11 Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad
So you’ve made it through the exciting yet nerve-racking (and expensive) process of planning an international trip and it’s almost time to leave. As the planning type, you probably want to check every last detail and make sure everything’s all set for you to take off. Or maybe you’re spontaneous and haven’t really thought much past buying your plane ticket. Either way, we’ve put together a list of some of the things you’ll definitely want to consider before heading off. While part of the adventure of traveling comes from going with the flow, set yourself up for success by making sure you’ve sorted out your life before boarding that plane. Read on for our travel-planning checklist.
1. Sort out your travel visa
Do you need a visa for the country you’ll be visiting? This is one of the first things to do before travel. In many cases you won’t, but this will depend on a few factors: your passport, the country you’re entering, and the length of time. Check the immigration authority’s website or contact your country’s embassy in advance so you’re at least aware of the requirements. Often it’s a negligible amount (think: 20 USD) and can be done upon arrival, but it all depends.
2. Unlock your phone
While I really think travel is the perfect time to give you and your phone some space, realistically you’ll need a phone of some sort to get around, keep in touch, and show your Insta followers your life is better than theirs. High on the list of preparations is to unlock your phone. That way, when you land you’ll be able to pop a cheap SIM in and hit the ground running. Usually much cheaper than an international data plan.
3. Call your banks
Let your banks and credit card companies know you’ll be traveling, to which countries, and for how long. Otherwise they may flag your account for suspicious activity and shut off your cards. Not great when you just got to a new country and have no other source of money.
4. Check in with your doctor
Visit your doctor before you leave to top-up on all medications you may need while away. It will likely be much more difficult if not impossible to get what you need on the road, so be sure to bring anything you absolutely must have. Leave everything in its original packaging with your name/prescription on the outside to avoid confiscation.
5. Get vaccinated
Talk to your doctor about any vaccinations you may need for the trip. As a guideline, the US CDC has a great list of typical vaccinations by country. You will likely have already received most of the common ones, but be aware that you may need vaccines for diseases such as yellow fever depending on where you’ll be traveling.
6. Get travel insurance
Does your typical health insurance from home cover you while abroad? Take a look at your policy. You may want to purchase specific travel insurance for the time you’ll be away. This often covers not only your health but also property loss and theft and possibly even missed or canceled flights.
7. Get travel adapters
Chances are you’ll need an adapter to use electrical outlets in the country you’re visiting. Check out Skyscanner’s handy guide for a look at what outlet formats are used by country, then purchase an adapter that will convert your electronics into the proper format. Pay attention to voltage as you may also need a converter to avoid blowing a circuit or ruining your devices.
8. Bring copies of your passport
Always carry extra copies of the photo page of your passport. If you ever lose the original, having a copy may be helpful to the embassy when attempting to get a replacement. It’s also required when visiting many countries. I’ve got a scan of mine in my email so it’s always accessible if I really get into trouble. You may also want to leave one with someone at home, just in case.
9. Check money conversion rates
You should be aware of the local currency and how much it's valued at in comparison to your home currency. Sounds obvious, but how else will you know how much things really cost? It’s very likely that you may be visiting a predominately cash economy. Have a full understanding of conversion rates, bank fees, and understand how much you’ll be charged to use ATMs so you can make smart decisions. Keep in mind that currency conversion rates change constantly and you’ll need an internet connection to know the true rate at any time, but having an idea will be incredibly useful.
10. Download handy apps
There are tons of great apps you’ll find incredibly useful while traveling. The basics include a way to listen to music—make sure to download songs for offline listening if you use a streaming service—maps, translation, and booking services.
Everyone’s least favorite part of traveling anywhere—get packing. Understand where you’ll be traveling and what sort of climate you’ll encounter. Do not overpack. Again, DO NOT overpack. Set out everything you think you’ll need, and then cut it in half. Most of us tend to pack too much and then immediately regret it. Are there stores where you’re going? If the answer is yes, then leave it and buy it later if you find you really need it. You probably won't.
These are some of the basic steps we take before heading off on any trip to make sure our most basic needs can be met while away. The better prepared you are for your journey, the less likely you are to run into major issues. What are some of your go-to tips for preparing for time away? Drop a comment below letting us know!
Note: Some of the content above contains affiliate links. These are all services and products we use and love. If you use one of the links and make a purchase we may get a referral reward, but this is no way changes the price for you.