o Plan in Advance
Beware of peak season traveling which may not allow you to fly on the date of your choice. Book as early as possible.
o Buy Travel Insurance
Don’t leave home without it. This could be the most important thing you do! Take a copy of the details with you just in case.
o Understand Other Cultures
Read up on the countries you will be visiting. There is nothing like knowing a local custom or two and Hello, Goodbye, Please and Thank You in the local language.
o Study Weather Patterns
Know what season it will be and check temperatures and rainfall stats.
o Get Passports and Visas in Order
Only about 5% of Americans have passports. Obtain or renew yours and carry a photocopy of the information page with you. Note: Most countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your trip.
Investigate visa requirements for your nationality for all countries you will be visiting. Sometimes obtaining a visa is a lengthy process that requires advanced planning. If you need visas for multiple countries, note that you may have to surrender your passport to each one separately for the visa stamp.
o Research Local Events
Find out what events are on in the locations/dates you will be visiting. Is it a local holiday? Will there be traffic jams? When you know, you can either plan on attending/joining in the celebration or avoiding/planning accordingly!
o Medical Checkup and Immunizations
Schedule a medical check-up before the trip. Ask your doctor about necessary vaccinations as well as immunizations for the countries you will be visiting well enough in advance to plan the proper course of action (some immunizations require multiple doses and some take time to be effective). Decide which medical procedures need to be done before you go.
o Study Local Currency and Exchange Rates and Buy Currency
Be one step ahead. Know how much your home currency will buy in the destinations on your itinerary. It is good to have some cash in the currencies of the countries you will visit, especially for taxis, tips and small purchases. Most debit/credit cards are accepted at ATM machines around the world, but beware of fees! Also consider traveler’s checks or the newer traveler’s preloaded cards.
o Pack Appropriately
Check with your airline regarding their most up-to-date baggage policies. Weight, size and number of bag policies vary by airline and are often different for US domestic versus international travel. Fees assessed by airlines also vary.
Try not to over pack as you may find you have simply dragged a good number of heavy clothes around for nothing!
If you are traveling with someone, consider dividing clothing and other necessary items into each other’s bags. In case one is lost or delayed, this could allow for some comfort while the bag is being found or before clothes can be replaced.
Don’t forget to clearly identify your bags, with identification information both inside and outside each bag.
o Cancel Newspapers, Mail and other Home Delivery Services
Don’t let criminals know you are away. Stop all home delivery services, have the mail held at the post office or arrange to have items picked up by a neighbor.
o More Personal Preparation
Buy a prepaid (international) telephone calling card, very useful in case of emergency and to avoid the shock of mobile roaming charges, international surcharges, hotel/cruise telephone surcharges.
Pay your bills before you go. If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, set up online bill paying or arrange for a friend or relative to handle.
Will you be away during an election? Request and submit an absentee ballot. Will you be away during a key tax deadline? File before you go and then relax!
Arrange for pet care.
Water plants and mow lawn before leaving or arrange for someone to care for them while you’re away.
Wash clothes you are taking and while you’re at it, wash the clothes you aren’t taking. You’ll appreciate the lower volume of laundry upon your return.
Tell someone you will be away and how they can reach you in an emergency.
o Before You Lock The Last Door
Set your e-mail and voicemail away messages as appropriate.
Set lights on timers. Even consider setting a TV or a radio on a timer, turning it up just loud enough to be heard outside.
Lock all windows and doors securely and remove any keys hidden outside the house. Close blinds and curtains.
Remove perishable items from your refrigerator and run the garbage disposal. Wash the dishes.
Empty all wastebaskets and take out the garbage.
Dial your thermostat up or down, depending on the season.
o Expect the Unexpected
Whether we like it or not, things do happen, such as airline delays, etc. Don’t sweat it, try to accept it, and remain cool at all times.
o Now Go and Enjoy Your Trip
Relax knowing you’ve taken care of everything.