Check your passport and visa requirements. You will need at least 6 months before expiry in your passport to travel out of the country. Check to see if you need a visa(s) for the country(s) you’re visiting. Some can take weeks to process, so plan ahead. Make sure you’ve got enough pages in your passport: consider the number of stamps you’ll be getting. Then find a nice, safe spot to keep your passport on your travels and make that the only place you keep it.
Photocopy and scan important documents. Heaven forbid you lose your backpack, wallet, purse, but if you do you’ll want all of these documents handy to get replacements in a timely manner. Save things like your passport, visa, health insurance card, credit card, and travel arrangements to Dropbox, Google Docs, etc. Print out at least one copy of the front passport page and hide it in a separte bag with your actual passport.
Check your meds. Some distant lands require specific immunizations. Passport Health can help in most cases. Refill your prescriptions and ask for extra medicine if you’ll be gone for a while.
Buy travel insurance. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s relatively cheap and covers everything from medical bills to lost luggage to stolen valuables. Check out World Nomads, but there are plenty to choose from.
Sort your money. Find out the currency of the country(s) you’re traveling and how best to get money. Look into getting a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great option if you travel frequently (so is CapitalOne VentureOne and Charles Schwab reimburses all ATM fees). Let your bank know you’ll be overseas or they could freeze your account. Save the international phone number of the credit card company in case you need to cancel your card, get a cash advance, etc. while away.
Make a budget. On the road is no time to go broke. Start with the big purchases you know you’ll be making (flights, accommodation, attractions, etc.) Then give yourself a per diem that includes your daily food, travel (taxis), and other small purchases.
Memorize three key phrases. If you don’t already know the language, learn the essentials. Even if you only know a few words, people appreciate the effort. Download Duolingo for added assistance. Then practice charades.
Turn off roaming. Unless you have opted into an international mobile plan, turn off roaming on your phone. Data can eat through hundreds of dollars in a very short amount of time.
Pack and repack. Less is more when you’re lugging a backpack or suitcase through airports, onto trains and in and out of hotel rooms. Pack once with everything you think you will need. Take everything out. Eliminate one-third. Repack.
Write your mother. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be your mother, but write your close family and friends letting them know where you’ll be, who you’ll be with and contact, flight, and accommodation information. If you’ll remember, the guy from 127 Hours did not take this step.
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