Before You Leave

You’ve finally booked that dream vacation overseas… now what? Here are four things to do before your flight:

1.    Get your visas and vaccinations

Some countries require travel visas, specific vaccinations, a number of blank pages in your passport, and passport validity beyond your scheduled stay before you’re allowed to enter the country. It’s important to note that some vaccinations require several doses or should be taken weeks before your trip, so the earlier you begin this step the better. Your travel agent can help make sure you comply with your destination’s entry requirements when you book your travel.

2.    Make plans to call home

While it might be nice to imagine a trip completely untethered, the truth is you’ll want the ability to check in.  Arrange times when you’ll connect with loved ones (or workmates) via Skype or Facetime so you can incorporate finding WiFi connections into your itinerary.

If searching for international internet connections makes you antsy, check with your cellular carrier for international rates and service availability, or find a temporary cellular solution abroad.  Rental cell phones or SIM cards are an inexpensive option to stay connected. Search “international cell phone rental” online to find a host of cell phone rental services and get the best plan to fit your needs before you leave.

3.    Call your credit card company

Credit card companies employ armies of scam protection experts who are on the lookout for activities that are inconsistent with the cardholder’s typical behavior. A simple brunch in Brussels will look suspicious, and before you know it your credit card is on hold. Let your credit card company know where you’re traveling before you leave the country to avoid inconvenience.

Also, be sure to ask your credit card company about foreign transaction fees or currency conversion fees. These are fees imposed by the creditor that are above and beyond the exchange rate. Some creditors are more foreign-friendly than others, so it helps to know where your credit card company stands before you leave. If you have time, you can shop around for a better credit card; or negotiate with your current creditors to limit (or avoid) fees.

4.    Copy important documents

Plan for the unpleasant to minimize the effects of a lost or stolen bag. Make copies of important documents and stow them in separate places to expedite replacement:

Passports: tuck an extra copy of your family’s passports in each suitcase, and make sure someone back home has a copy as well. The trip to the embassy to replace your passport will be infinitely easier with the photocopy of your passport in hand.

Prescriptions:  before you leave, ask your physician for a written prescription of an extra week’s worth of all your medications, and keep this in a separate location from your actual medications. If you lose your meds, you can replace them easily with your extra prescription at a local pharmacy. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, keep that prescription handy as well.

Traveler’s Cheque Serial Numbers: one of the key benefits of traveler’s cheques is that they’re replaceable, but only if you have the serial numbers for each check.  Keep a list of unused serial numbers in a separate location from your actual checks; and remember to mark off your used checks as you go.

Do you have any other pre-travel rituals to share? Tell us about them!