7 Things to Do Before Traveling Abroad

Taking a trip to an international destination can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating things you’ll ever do. The sights, experiences, and people you meet can be life changing and create memories that last a lifetime. But traveling abroad can also be intimidating, especially if you’re an international travel novice. A good checklist can go a long way to making your trip go more smoothly and lessen your anxiety before stepping on that airplane or boat, and to help you avoid any mishaps that can sour an otherwise amazing trip.

Here are seven tips to make sure your vacation is memorable for all the right reasons:

1) Check Your Passport
Nothing is worse than getting to the airport with packed bags and high hopes, only to find yourself stranded at security with an expired passport. While passports are valid for 10 years, some countries refuse entry if the passport expires less than six months after your travel departure. Also, make sure that the information on your passport and other forms of ID are consistent. We also recommend making copies of your passport, one to take with you and one to leave with a trusted friend or family member at home.

2) Know Your Health and Travel Insurance Coverage 
None of us plan on having a health emergency while traveling, but they do sometimes occur. Make sure to check your insurance before you go to find what it will and won’t cover, and consider purchasing added travel protection.

3) Let Your Bank Know Your Travel Dates
Contact your bank and credit card companies to inform them of your travel plans are before departure. Banks can sometimes flag or freeze accounts when they detect suspicious activity like foreign purchases without prior warning.

4) Keep a Running Travel Checklist
Whether you use your phone or a travel journal, keep an ongoing packing and to-do list in the weeks leading up to your departure. Start filling your suitcase early so as not to forget bringing important items such as medication and international adapters.

5) Look into International Phone Plans
Most of us rely heavily on our cell phone while traveling, and that is especially true when traveling in unfamiliar countries. Make sure to check your phone provider’s international phone plans before you depart so that you don’t get slammed by a big bill when you get home.

6) Pack Less and Save Space
One of the most common packing blunders we all make is taking more than we really need. A good rule of thumb is to lay out everything you want to take, and then cut it in half. Most hotels will have laundry services available if necessary, and you can always buy that extra bottle of shampoo if you really need it once you’re there. Remember that many hotels and B&B’s in Europe do not have elevators, so while that giant rolling bag may seem like a good idea at home, it can quickly become an inconvenience abroad.

7) Voltage Converters and Adapters
Voltage and plug requirements vary around the world. Most countries run between 220-240 V, but the United States runs on 120 V. Make sure to check the voltage of the country/countries you will be visiting before you go, as a mistake may mean accidentally ruining your straightener or hair dryer.

Also check what kind of outlets are used at your destination. In the United States, for example, two rectangular-pronged plugs are the standard, but in Europe the prongs are round. Adapters are cheap and easily purchased online or in stores before you go.

Photos are taken in person or provided by the supplier except where credited.

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