No matter how often you travel abroad, there’s bound to be at least one or two things you forget to organise until the last possible moment. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of travelling abroad and forget about the practical but important things that go with it. To help you keep track of what needs to be done, here are ten key things you need to take care of before you go on an international holiday.
1. Make sure your passport and visa are up to date.
There’s no more important item for international travel than your passport. You can’t leave the country without it. So once you’ve found it, make sure it’s up to date and valid for at least the next six months. Regardless of the length of your trip, some countries have strict requirements, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
You will also need to check the entry requirements for the country or countries you want to visit. There may be a time limit on your stay and/or you may need to apply for a visa online or through an embassy. It’s best to check the State Department (US) or Foreign Office (UK) website well in advance so you can sort this out.
2. Get vaccinations and fill prescriptions
Staying healthy while travelling is incredibly important, not only during your trip, but also when you return home. This means making sure you have everything you would normally need, such as medication, as well as things that are specific to your trip. For starters, you’ll want to fill your prescriptions to make sure you don’t run out of medication while you’re away. It’s also a good idea to carry a small first aid kit in case of minor health problems such as sprains or stomach upsets.
3. Check for travel warnings and advisories
Just because a country regularly receives tourists and has international flights doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a safe place to visit. Before you jet off on your international trip, you need to do your homework and find out about any safety concerns associated with your chosen destination.
4. Buy travel insurance
As much fun as travelling is, a lot can go wrong. No matter how well you plan, bad things can happen to even the most experienced travellers. Travel insurance is available for everything from minor mishaps such as bad weather to serious medical emergencies.
5. Get an International Driving Permit
If you’re planning to drive on your trip abroad, you’ll want to get your international driving permit before you go. Different countries have different laws about accepting foreign driving licences for cars and motorcycles, so the International Driving Permit comes in handy.
6. Get your money sorted
One of the most complex and stressful parts of travelling overseas is making sure you have access to your money while you’re away. The idea of being stranded in a foreign country without access to money is something every traveller dreads. Part of the problem is that there are so many ways to access your money overseas, each with its own drawbacks.
7. Pack appropriately
Packing is often one of the things people think about most before a trip, and yet it’s hard not to fall into bad habits. Whether through forgetfulness or indecision, who hasn’t made a mistake when packing for a trip?
A classic packing mistake is to overpack, trying to bring everything you might need. Instead, leave ‘just in case’ items at home and remember that you can always buy things when you arrive if you really need them. One item not to leave behind these days is a travel adapter for your electronics. You’ll also want to make sure your electronics are dual voltage to avoid any compatibility issues.
Not over-packing will also help to keep your luggage weight down, especially as you’ll need to be aware of airline baggage restrictions. It’s often best to leave valuables at home so you don’t have to worry about them. If you do decide to bring them, never put them in your checked luggage.
8. Learn a few phrases in the local language
The value of speaking a little of the local language cannot be underestimated. Not only will it make getting around and interacting with people easier, but locals are likely to be more open and welcoming to you. If you show that you’re making an effort, no matter how poor your language skills are, they’ll be more likely to make an effort to help you. Don’t underestimate how far a “hello” or “thank you” can go with people.
9. Research your destination
An essential part of preparing for a trip is doing all the research that will help you plan your visit. You can use this information to help you plan your schedule and itinerary, but it’s not quite as important as covering all the basics. After all, you don’t want any nasty surprises or missed opportunities.
10. Clean your house
The last thing you want is to come back from a trip to a messy, smelly house. Nobody feels like doing the housework after a long flight when they’re exhausted from jet lag. Unfortunately, the solution to this is also housework. But if you do it before you leave, you won’t come home to unwanted work.
Before you leave, take out the rubbish and empty the fridge of any perishable food. It is much easier to do this now, before the food starts to spoil and smell. You’ll also want to do the washing up and the laundry, especially so you have clean clothes to wear before you get to your travel laundry.