What to Do and Not Do Before Traveling Internationally
Are you a first-time international traveler, or a frequent flyer who still gets overwhelmed with the laundry list of to-dos before a cross-border trip?
We know preparing for departure can be stressful, so we want to put your mind at ease. Here’s a simplified list of what to do and not do before traveling internationally:
What to DO Before Your International Travel
- Check your health: Get a pre-travel physical exam several weeks before your departure. Tell your doctor where you’re going and verify you have all the proper vaccinations for that destination. Refill your prescriptions and be sure you have an extra supply, in case your travel is extended or delayed for any reason.
- Verify visa requirements: Many countries require citizens of other nationalities to obtain a visa prior to entering their country, so it’s essential to check these requirements when planning your trip.
- Notify your bank: Let your bank know when you will be leaving for your trip, where you’re going and what you plan to do once you arrive. If you forget to do so, you risk your account freezing during your trip. Calling your bank ahead of time will also allow you to ask any questions you have about using your card internationally, including whether you will be charged a foreign transaction fee.
- Make an itinerary: The best-laid plans don’t always go awry — especially when it comes to international travel. Exploring and mapping your opportunities ahead of time will allow you to make the most of your trip.
- Pack the essentials: Ah, packing — arguably one of the most stressful parts of traveling. When you’re deciding what to take on your trip, be sure you’ve got the essentials. Remember to bring copies of all forms of identification, including your passport, driver’s license, visa and insurance cards. Also print copies of your itinerary, flight and accommodation details, and tickets for any activity or event you’re attending as a backup. Familiarize yourself with airport security rules and regulations, and what you can and cannot pack in your carry-on or luggage.
- Make sure you’re covered: Accidents happen. Your health is not something to risk while you’re away from home. Most people think their standard medical plan or a credit card travel insurance policy will cover them anywhere in the world, but that isn’t always the case. Be sure to review your current health insurance policy before departure, and speak to an international insurance provider to learn how travel medical insurance can better protect you and your loved ones.
What NOT to do Before Your International Travel
- Book your trip too early: It’s inevitable: You just made travel plans with friends or family and you can’t wait to book your trip. But don’t let your excitement cloud your judgment when purchasing flights. Buying tickets too early could cause you to pay a higher price than usual. For domestic flights, it’s better to wait until about seven weeks before your departure date to buy your ticket, according to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, which analyzed 560 million airfare searches. For international flights, it’s best to buy your ticket 11-12 weeks before your anticipated departure date.
- Exchange currency at the airport: While it may be the most convenient option, exchanging currency at the airport could cost you. Poor exchange rates and high fees can start your trip off on the wrong foot. Instead, ask your bank a few weeks before your trip if it offers foreign currency. Also be sure to check if your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee.
- Leave your home at risk for burglary: In the excitement of your travels, it’s easy to forget about simple things like home security. Before you leave, be sure to notify a close neighbor, who can keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. Ask them to bring in your mail and take care of your pets and/or plants so your home doesn’t appear to be unattended. Be sure to also ask them to alert you of any suspicious activity.
- Forget tech gadgets: Electrical outlets are different all over the world, so buying an adapter is essential. Also, be sure to look into portable chargers for your gadgets, so you’re fully charged while on the go.
- Disrespect the customs and culture of your destination: This one is pretty straightforward. Always be mindful of the locals.
- Keep all of your forms of identification in the same bag: If one of your bags get lost or stolen, you don’t want to lose all of your important documents. Consider keeping the original forms of ID with you in your carry-on and keeping copies in your checked bags.
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