So you’ve got your flights and hotel booked and you’re leaving in a week or less. Exciting! But wait—don’t put away that to-do list just yet. There are lots of pre-trip planning steps to take before a trip.
Here are 10 things you should never forget before a trip, from my experience!
Travel Insurance is one of those things you don’t realize you need…. until you do. There’s always a chance that you may cancel or cut your trip short, and you don’t want to be paying out the nose on cancellation fees or unforeseen medical expenses!
My general advice is, when you make the first payment on your trip—whether it’s nonrefundable airplane tickets or a hotel deposit—get insurance to cover it. Sure, you may not end up using it, but you’ll rest all the more easy knowing you have a backup plan.
Money, Money, Money
I have a few pointers when it comes to traveling with money—most of them come from mistakes I’ve made!
First of all, make sure your credit card has an electronic chip on it, because most European shops don’t accept cards with just the strip. If it doesn’t, ask your bank to issue you one, although most major cards are now making it standard. Second, tell your bank where and when you’re going- if you don’t, they might flag your card when you try to use it and deactivate it while you’re overseas!
Finally, don’t exchange any money- currency exchange centers usually charge a hefty fee. Instead, use an ATM upon arrival or get a card with a 0% foreign transaction fee. This will cut on costs in the long run!
Read up on the destination! Top places to go, day trips, local dishes, historic attractions, everyday phrases, and even the exchange rate.
Familiarize yourself with the layout of the city and the public transportation- knowing this stuff beforehand can reduce the stress later on.
I always suggest making a list of your must-sees and plot them out on the map, so you have an idea of how far away things are in relation to others, and you are the most efficient with your travels!
Read More: Travel Planning Resources
Most countries allow travelers to visit for up to 90 days visa-free. Most, BUT not all. You will need to check online whether or not you need a visa BEFORE traveling because some countries have a process that could take a few hours, or in rare cases, a few months.
Do you need a paper visa arranged well beforehand (China)? Can you get it on arrival (Turkey)? Can you issue it online (Argentina)?
Know before you go and save yourself the stress!
Make copies of your travel documents, including your passport, itinerary, travel insurance policy, emergency phone numbers, any tour confirmations, and leave them with a friend or family member back home. Scan and email copies to yourself so you always have an electronic copy in reach in case you lose your hard copies.
Staying healthy and hydrated is the most important tip I can give! On long flights, avoid alcohol and coffee, these can both dehydrate badly. On a travel day, eat a good meal before you fly, as you may not eat for a few hours, and stick to simple, easily digestible foods and you’ll avoid the worst of jet lag.
Buy bottled water once you clear security or bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at the fountains near the gate. Pack any medications you need and, if you’re traveling in third world countries, imodium for traveler’s diarrhea.
Lastly, check the CDC for any required or recommended vaccinations for your destination.
Read up on airport and airline regulations while your packing for your trip, because so many items are now prohibited to bring on your carry-on.
Use a clear plastic bag to contain any liquids or gels you want- and remember, the limit for each bottle is 3 oz!
Read Next: The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide
It’s such a pain to be stuck on a flight with tight clothes that cut off your circulation. So dress right! Ditch the high heels and skinny jeans and opt instead for breathable fabrics and comfy shoes. I always dress in layers- you can keep warm if the A/C is on full blast, and you can strip off a few layers if you need to.
Plan Your First Day
I get it- you want to be spontaneous. You like to live freely and that’s why you’re embarking on this awesome trip! But that first day can be a real pain: arriving in an unfamiliar country with heavy luggage, jet-lagged and trying to reorient yourself. Do yourself a favor and have a plan for the first day.
Ask your hotel to pick you up at the airport, so you can check in and dump your bags right away. Once you have time to freshen up and get settled, you can hit the cobblestones and go a-wandering in your new city.
Remember- it’s your vacation. You’ve done all the reading and planning that you can. Now sit back and relax! Try to get a good night’s sleep before you travel, and try not to stress out and overthink it- you’ll be fine!