Traveling overseas? You are part of a slender majority. In fact, 40% of Americans say they have never left the country, although 76% say they would like to travel more often.
There are untold benefits to international travel. People who travel have a decreased risk of depression and heart attacks. They experience more empathy, increased creativity, and a greater overall sense of well-being.
Of course, there is the “something to look forward to” factor that makes travel so exciting and soothing. We are going to experience a new setting, change of climate, interesting architecture, and a different set of people.
As Mark Twain famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”
In spite of its soul-nourishing benefits, taking a trip is not a snap-your-fingers-and-go enterprise. You will need to plan carefully ahead of time if you want your experience to be smooth and hassle-free.
What can you do before you leave to make your trip a breeze? Here are ten thoughts:
1. Get a Passport
If you are a minor or applying for a passport for the first time, you cannot apply by mail. You will have to take a trip to your local post office with application forms, a photo ID, and proof of citizenship.
There are fees involved in getting a passport, so bring your wallet with you. There is a $35 acceptance fee and a $15 photo fee when you get your passport for the first time. It is also $60 to expedite your passport if you need it within 2-3 days.
If you already have a passport, you can renew it by mail. A small renewal fee will apply.
2. Check For Alerts Before Taking a Trip
If you are planning to travel to a country that is occasionally dangerous, or even if it is just somewhere new, it is a good idea to make sure there are no travel alerts before you leave.
Check for travel alerts for short-term conditions that may affect travelers, and travel warnings for long-term conditions.
3. Get Your Credit Card Ready
You will want to choose one or two cards that you plan on using for expenses overseas, such as dining, lodging, and entertainment. It is important to notify your credit card company ahead of time, so that your transactions are not declined because of suspected fraud.
Credit card companies are usually very friendly about helping you once you have alerted them to your travel. Try to choose a card that has a chip rather than a stripe, as these are accepted more often globally. You should also check online to see if your card is generally accepted in the country you are planning on travelling to.
It is a good idea to write down your credit card numbers and passport number. Keep them somewhere other than your wallet in the unlikely event that your wallet is stolen.
4. Check the Weather
It is a smart idea to check the weather before travelling abroad. You may think all you need is a good pair of sneakers and jeans, but the country you are traveling to could have an unexpected heat wave or cold spell. You don’t want to be stuck overpaying for clothing and having extra baggage to bring home.
You can bring an extra sweatshirt or pair of shorts, and be sure that staples in your wardrobe such as pants and T-shirt match with more than one other item.
If it is possible, leave your most valuable jewelry at home. You should also put your name on the outside and inside of all of your baggage in case it is misplaced.
5. Bring Adapters
In many countries, different adapters are needed in order to connect American plugs to international electrical sockets. Check online to see which type of adapter you will need.
Adapters can be found online at Amazon or in stores like Amazon, or in stores like Best Buy, Walgreens, or Bed Bath and Beyond. Don’t wait until you are in a new country to look for an adapter, as you may have a harder time finding it.
6. Think About Your Cash
Take cash out from your bank before you leave, or get an even exchange with a good rate when you arrive at the airport in your destination. You can also get an International Bank Account Number (IBAN,) which will allow financial transactions to take place easily in different countries. Check it out!
7. Call Your Cell Phone Company
Let your cell phone company know which country you are travelling to, and make sure you will be able to get service. If you are planning on being away for a month or more, they may be able to give you a travel abroad plan with a flat monthly rate that will save you money in extra fees.
8. Stop Your Services
Make sure any deliveries, such as groceries, dry-cleaning, or packages, are stopped while you are away. If you want your landscaper to keep working your property, be sure to pre-pay them before you leave.
9. Make Chatting Plans
You will want to keep in touch with your loved ones while you are away. Keep in mind time changes when thinking about the best time to talk.
The phone may not be the most economical way to stay in touch with your friends and family while you are overseas. If you don’t have a Skype or Facetime account, set one up before you leave, since they are free.
10. Make Pet Plans
You can leave a feeding and/or walking schedule for your friends or family before you leave. Be sure to call the kennel or dog-walker a few weeks ahead of time if you are planning on hiring them. You don’t want to be stuck with no back-up if they are unavailable.
Time To Fly
Taking a trip is easy once you have prepared your credit card, cell phone, and home for your time away.
For more information, read our blog today.