You’ve already researched how to pack, but there are 10 key things you must do before your international trip, to help ensure your experience is trouble-free.
1. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
Many countries will not allow you to enter unless you have at least 6 months left before it expires. Additionally, many countries require you have at least two completely blank facing pages in your passport to accommodate their Visa, plus entry and exit stamps.
2. KNOW THE VISA REQUIREMENTS
You don’t want to travel all the way to some distant land only to find you are turned away at the border because you did not secure a Visa prior to arrival. You may also need to plan for an entry fee in local currency upon arrival. Most governments have a website that outlines the Visa requirements for its citizens. The U.S. State Department site also allows you to register your trip with them prior to leaving the country.
3. DOWNLOAD PODCASTS
Whether you want to learn a few key phrases to help you in your travels or would like a self-guided walking tour, there are a number of helpful podcasts to improve your experience. Here are some good ones to consider:
Join Us In France – A great podcast if you plan to visit France.
The Bowery Boys – New York City History
4. RESEARCH THE ELECTRICITY AND OUTLET REQUIREMENTS.
If you are bringing any electronics you will need to charge them during your trip. You must first have the correct power converter to accommodate 110 to 220 voltage. You don’t want to fry your curling iron half way through your first use and walk around with half your hair curled. Additionally, make sure you know the type of outlet and have the correct outlet adapter (e.g. the UK is different from the rest of Europe). A converter with multiple ports (including USB) allows you to quickly charge multiple devices at once.
5. SET BILLS FOR ONLINE BILL PAY OR AUTO DEBIT
You don’t want to be enjoying a holiday away only to return to find you have been hit with huge late fees due to missed payments. Almost every bank offers online bill payment that you can initiate from anywhere in the world.
6. PREPARE TO STAY HEALTHY
Preparation is the best prevention. Review the Centers for Disease Control site. Make sure you understand the vaccine requirements and potential health risks. The site gives great tips on what you may need to pack to keep healthy on the road. If you’re visiting a 3rd world country, it’s wise to pack something to aid an upset stomach. Our product of choice is an herbal supplement called, Slippery Elm. It has worked well for minor stomach issues.
7. CONTACT YOUR CREDIT CARD ISSUER
Notify them that you will be traveling outside of your home country. If you don’t yet have a credit card with a chip, ask your Bank for a replacement. Additionally, ask them for a PIN to go with your chip card. PINs are a common requirement in most countries, especially when purchasing tickets at bus and train stations.
8. DOWNLOAD TRAVEL APPS
There are a multitude of invaluable apps available to assist you in your travels. Ones to consider include these iOS apps:
XE Currency Pro
Google Translate or an app designed for a specific language.
London Underground, Paris Metro, Tokyo Metro, and New York Subway. Of course, there’s Uber, which is really easy to use in big cities — particularly late at night, if you don’t feel comfortable taking public transit (and it’s a great mode of transportation to/from airports).
Luxe City Guides app is a good one, despite the limited cities available (Note: you will be required to make in-app purchases, but the guides are decent—albeit more for the hip traveler with a finer tastes). Afar Travel Guide app is good too.
Trip Itinerary Organizer:
TripIt app will automatically scan your emailed reservation confirmations (hotels, flights, car rentals, etc) and creates a complete travel itinerary that can be shared.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Some cities can be challenging when it comes to veg food. The Happy Cow app is a friendly and easy way to make sure you never go hungry.
9. PURCHASE A TEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL MOBILE PLAN
For a nominal flat fee most mobile carriers will allow you to purchase a data and voice package, up to a certain limit, for use during your trip. You’ll be happy to have data available as wifi can be sketchy at times, and Google Maps can be invaluable when navigating an unfamiliar city. Keep tabs on your usage to ensure you do not exceed the package and suddenly get hit with an outrageous bill.
• Data-Conserving Tip 1: You can store map data in Google Maps using your iPhone. Just search the city before you leave (or after you arrive via free hotel wifi), then zoom and scroll around to load the pertinent portions of the city, which will be stored in your iPhone’s cache memory and can be used offline while touring the town.
• Data-Conserving Tip 2: Reduce over consumption of data on your iPhone by deactivating unnecessary email accounts. (Go to: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > select mail accounts one-by-one, then slide or tap the corresponding ‘Mail’ button to deactivate it; don’t forget to reactivate when you return home!)
• Data-Conserving Tip 3: Further reduce consumption by turning off cellular data (Go to: Settings > Cellular > turn off “Cellular Data”) and then turn set ‘Push’ notifications to manual. (Go to: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data > next to “Push” set to off; then scroll to the bottom and under the “Fetch” heading, select “Manually”). Now you can check your email using wifi only.
10. CHARGE ALL YOUR DEVICES
Make sure that your phone, tablet, camera battery or electric razor are all charged prior to leaving. You don’t want to be spending your first day in your exotic location waiting for your devices to charge. Bring your power converter if your devices don’t already include an adapter (not needed for most Apple products, since their Apple power adapters will convert power when using international outlets). Bring an external travel charger to ensure you won’t be in a panic upon arrival to find your phone with your itinerary is dead. Just keep in mind that some airports, such as Beijing International Airport, may confiscate smaller external battery chargers when you pass through them due to strict safety rules (most commonly, they confiscate the lipstick-sized battery chargers that don’t list detailed power specifications somewhere on the device).
Check these items off your list, then rest easy and enjoy the trip!