5 Must Do's Before Traveling Internationally
PLEASE DON'T STRAND YOURSELF
Follow these quick, but essential to do's before getting on your flight to save yourself logistical nightmares while abroad. Each one takes a few minutes and have given me peace of mind. Of course many of these tips are applicable for domestic travel, but essential for leaving the country.
5. CALL YOUR BANK
Have your itinerary with dates and countries ready to let them know that you'll be traveling and using your card. This way, your card won't get blocked for fraud while you are without cell phone connection and awkwardly staring at your bartender after scarfing down ten plates of tapas. Yeah, don't be that person.
4. HAVE AN OFFLINE RECORD OF YOUR ITINERARY
Even if you have an international data plan set up, internet access is not guaranteed. Have all of your tickets, transportation arrangements, and addresses in one safe (preferably password protected) place. I would not recommend printing these out in case you lose them. You don't want to risk it falling into the wrong hands.
3. LEAVE YOUR TRIP DETAILS WITH A RESPONSIBLE FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER BACK HOME
Checking in on Facebook with your toes and a tropical beverage is a sure way to make friends envious, but it isn't the most helpful way of communicating your wherabouts if someone needs to get directly in contact with you. Leave your details with someone you'd trust to come back for you in an Alien takeover. Also, with the way the news reports international happenings, it's nice to give someone responsible the peace of mind of knowing exactly where you are.
2. MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING
Do you need it to get home? Copy it. Do you need it to eat? Copy it. Do you need it to check in to your hotel? Copy it.
I have witnessed the stress of trying to replace a passport and credit card while abroad. While these copies won't necessarily be functional, you'll have an easier time identifying yourself to local embassies if you misplace your passport. Leave copies of your essentials at home, carry copies deep within your luggage, and lock your passport in a safe in your room.
1. HAVE BACK UP PLANS
Things will not go according to plan. Train companies will go on strike, buses will run late, street signs will mysteriously disappear, and flights will be delayed. The best thing that you can do is to have a back up plan in mind for every major move and transportation method you have. Even if this plan is to have "how can I get to xyz?" translated and memorized, you need to be comfortable with idea of being flexible at the very least.
BONUS TIPS (U.S. CITIZENS TRAVELING)
When I spent half a year in London and traveling through Western Europe, I thoroughly appreciated having the extra layer of knowledge that comes with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is a service of the bureau of consular affairs. This free program registers you to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate while you're living or traveling abroad. The program notifies registered travelers of important travel warnings, connects you to necessary contacts in case of emergency, and country specific fact sheets.
I know how tempting it is to throw that "out of the office" message up and abandon all adult responsibility before your trip, but taking these simple steps will ensure that you get to enjoy all of it.