When you go on a trip, it’s easy to forget to pack important items or tie up loose ends before you board the plane. Make sure you review this checklist to be sure you have everything you need for an enjoyable trip.
You'll have more options if you book well in advance, particularly if you're looking for small, boutique-style accommodations during a busy period in popular destinations. Airbnb can be a great alternative to hotel accommodation but check reviews carefully. For example, if the host has a history of canceling bookings before guests have arrived, steer clear.
Some of the most useful apps for travelers (especially traveling international) are Google Maps, Weather Live, Google Translate, Lyft, Uber, XE Currency Pro, CityMaps2Go, WhatsApp and Skype.
Car rentals are usually more expensive if you leave your booking until closer to the pickup date. Car insurance is pricey if you buy it over the counter, but a third-party provider can save you a lot of money.
For long flights, neck pillows, earplugs, and eye masks are your best friends for overnight flights. Noise-canceling headphones are wonderful as well, just make sure you have an adaptor for the inflight entertainment system. Some flights do not have screens, but you can download the airline app prior to boarding so you have access to inflight entertainment via your smartphone.
Using the “wrong” credit cards to pay bills and access funds from ATMs when you're overseas can whittle your funds away. For example, choose credit cards that charge low fees on foreign transactions. Always insist on paying in the local currency rather than dollars if you're offered the choice. Also make sure to alert your banking provider that you are traveling prior to your tip, so they do not have false alerts that your account has fraudulent activity.
Devices and Accessories
When we travel, we tend to rely on smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other devices that require batteries, chargers and possibly data storage cards. In addition to travel adaptors and converters, make sure you've got all the cables and chargers you need and throw in a double adaptor and a USB car charger if you're driving.
Airlines generally release their airfares 11 months in advance, and the cheapest "Earlybird" tickets are the first to go. Flights get more expensive as departure day approaches. If the booking says, "operated by…" this could be a codeshare flight meaning it may be that one airline offers cheaper fares than the other. If you're flying to Europe, consider a stopover either in Asia or the Middle East - there are plenty of choices.
You can probably access foreign currency at the airport (beware - it’s expensive!) but there are a few countries that require you to pay in cash for your visitor visa when you enter the country. If so, US dollars are usually the currency of choice.
Even if you can’t enjoy your regular workout while traveling, it’s still possible to incorporate some activity into your trip. Make sure to bring breathable clothes, sneakers, or comfortable walking shoes, bathing suit, and consider packing exercise bands.
Day 1, Day 2, etc. Where are you going to be, what are you going to do and where are you going to spend the night? For some, planning their itinerary is exciting and for others it’s a hassle. In either case, it’s important to get it right.
Mail Delivery and Subscriptions
If you’re going on an extended trip consider suspending your mail delivery, gym memberships, classes and anything else that preset as a weekly or monthly fee.
If you need regular doses of prescription medication, plan ahead and take the actual script with you as proof of medical authorization - some countries forbid certain medication. If you're hiking in a remote part of the world you might need specialist medical advice. Sleeping pills can help you adjust to a new time zone. Get a herbal remedy over the counter, or refer to your doctor for prescription medication. but make sure you know if there are any side effects. This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is a great source of information for travelers. Take note of their suggested travel health kit.
Renting a car on your trip? Rather than renting a GPS device from a car rental service you can download a GPS navigation system to your smartphone or tablet and find your way without having to rely on expensive data downloads. Google Maps and Waze work well and are both cost-effective solutions when you're finding your way on foot as well as by car.
Most airlines allow it because it’s easy and saves time at the airport. You might also be offered seat selection and that's well worth the effort.
Make sure your passport is up to date before you travel- it should be valid for at least six months before you enter another country, but some airlines insist on six months' validity from the date you return home.
If you have a pet and/or house that you need to be looked after during your travels, don't leave it until the last minute to find a sitter!
Stay in Touch
Need internet access while you're away? If so you can buy a multi-country SIM card from a provider such as GO-SIM, TravelSIM or WorldSim. Many US telecom companies offer data packages for overseas travelers but by far the cheapest solution is to buy a local SIM card. If you don't need 24/7 connectivity, you can rely on free Wi-Fi services in hotels and cafes. If you leave your usual SIM card in place, don't forget to turn off data roaming as soon as you depart our shores.
Consider climate data and popularity when you're planning your itinerary. For example, November to March is the wet season in Australia's Top End and huge crowds flock to most of Western Europe between mid-June and early September. February and April tend to be school vacation times in the US, so consider booking in different months to avoid higher flight and accommodation costs.
Travel insurance is not required, but it may be worth it to spend a little extra to be safe rather than sorry. If you do opt for insurance, you should purchase as soon as you've booked your air tickets. You should be protected if some natural phenomenon or unforeseen personal circumstances interfere with your plans.
Many countries require a visa for entry. Check with the websites of the countries you plan to visit and apply in advance or use a service such as Visa HQ.