This blog post was updated on February 25, 2019.
Traveling internationally requires a bit more prep work than your standard domestic flight. If you forget a crucial step, being in a foreign environment can make everything more stressful, chaotic, and downright terrifying. Not to mention, you probably couldn’t find cheap international flights, meaning there is more on the line from a pocketbook standpoint. Don’t find yourself up a creek without a paddle, or in this case, on an international flight without checking off this to-do list first.
Check Your Passport
Without your passport in order, you may as well just write off getting on that plane. If you have international travel planned, you first and foremost want to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day you are set to come back. In addition to making sure your passport isn’t going to expire soon, you should also be sure that you have a few blank pages available for stamps at customs. Lastly, make a few copies of the photo page of your passport, leaving one with a loved one at home and traveling with a copy or two in your luggage.
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Pack the Right Adapters
There is perhaps nothing worse than arriving at your destination with a dead cellphone and realizing your plug won’t fit in the outlet. Spend some time researching just what adapter and converter you’ll need for all of the devices you plan to bring.
Notify Your Bank/Credit Cards
You can’t just travel internationally and not let your bank or credit card company know. Before you take off, set travel alerts or call your bank to confirm the dates of travel along with where you are going. You will avoid having accounts frozen due to fraud alerts and that sinking feeling that you can’t get money.
Figure out Travel Insurance for Your Trip
International trips often mean more expenses if something goes wrong. Travelers should spend some time figuring out what travel insurance plan they’ll need for the trip. Insurance policies can come in handy, as they’ll generally cover everything from medical emergencies to stolen items while traveling.
Check Your Destination’s Visa and Vaccination Requirements
You don’t want to be denied boarding because you forgot to get a certain shot. It’s vital to check if you need not just certain vaccines for your destinations but also if you are required to have a visa as well. Forgetting these technicalities can throw a whole international trip into orbit.
Turn off Data Roaming on Your Cell Phone
Before your plane takes off, you can save yourself a great deal of cash if you switch off your data roaming on your cell phone. When you land, you won’t have to worry about all of those emails (being sent to you over the duration of your 10-hour flight) costing you a small fortune. In addition to turning off your data roaming, you should also figure out if you need a cell phone plan abroad and do some research on how to acquire a local SIM card.
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Assemble a Medical Kit
Aside from having some sort of medical insurance when you travel abroad, you’ll also want to be extra prepared by packing a medical kit. There’s nothing worse than getting sick abroad and having to mumble your way through pharmacies in languages you don’t understand. Assemble a medical kit so that you can be prepared if you do catch a bug while traveling.
Enroll in STEP
If you’re traveling abroad and want to be sure a family member can reach you or if you want updates and travel alerts along the way, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) should definitely be on your checklist. The free service for US citizens and nationals traveling abroad will send you important information from the nearest Embassy or Consulate as you travel, help family members contact you in an emergency, and help the US Embassy reach you in an emergency like a natural disaster or civil unrest.
Come up with a Jet Lag Plan
If you’re about to board an international flight, jet lag is most likely going to be in your future. To avoid sleeping through your first few days abroad, try to come up with a plan to fight jet lag before your trip. You can start adjusting to the time at your destination a few weeks before your trip or figure out what you’re going to do on board your flight to combat jet lag such as resisting that alcoholic drink.
Flying abroad requires more than just snagging cheap international flights. By following these handy tips you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation and ward off any nasty surprises.
Got any other tips to help prepare for international travel? Share them with us in the comments.
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