Going abroad, whether it’s for the first time or you’re an experienced traveler, always requires extra preparation. We’ve put together a checklist to help you get ready for your next overseas trip.
Have the Necessary Documentation
The most important documentation you will need is your passport. If you haven’t traveled abroad in a few years, check the expiration date on your passport weeks ahead of time. That way, you will have enough time to renew it if necessary. Keep in mind that your passport must not expire within six months of your trip. Also, if you have had a name change since you obtained your passport, you will need to update it with your current legal name.
Some countries, including Australia and India, require visitors to have visas in addition to valid passports. Check with your travel agent or tour operator to see if you need a visa and how to apply for one. Starting January 1, 2021, American travelers to 26 European countries will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
You should also print out your travel documents from your tour operator or, if you planned your own trip, the hotels, cruise line, and other arrangements you’ve made. Store the paperwork in a safe place should you need to refer to it. You might not always have internet access.
If you’re planning to drive during your travels, you might need an International Driving Permit and additional auto insurance.
Secure Travel and Medical Insurance
An international trip is an exciting but expensive adventure. While it’s not likely, you could encounter a variety of situations prior to or during your visit that would add to your costs or even cause you not to go at all. Having insurance in place can prevent you from losing money due your or your travel companion’s inability to travel, a medical issue in a foreign country, or other circumstances.
There are three main insurance policies you want to investigate and possibly purchase before you go.
Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you in part or in full for your flights, cruise passage, or other transportation if you aren’t able to travel. Check the policy carefully for what is covered, what reasons are considered valid, and what paperwork is required to prove that you couldn’t travel.
Travel insurance will compensate you for your expenses in the event of travel delays, flight cancellations, or lost luggage. Your credit card or even your homeowners insurance provider may offer this type of insurance.
The third policy to consider is health insurance. Even if you have a good plan, it may not help you once you cross the border. For instance, Medicare doesn’t carry over to foreign countries. Some private health insurance plans might be usable abroad, so check with your provider to see if your plan is. Those with Medicare or a private insurance policy that won’t work overseas can purchase a short-term supplemental policy. Ideally, this policy will pay the hospital directly so that you won’t have out-of-pocket expenses or a lot of paperwork afterward.
Pack Your Carryon Carefully
Bring any medications, necessary toiletries, and a change of clothes on the plane with you. You will find them useful on overnight flights or in case your luggage is delayed. You might also want items to help you sleep, like an inflatable pillow, and something to keep you occupied while you’re awake, such as a book or e-reader and headphones to listen to music or an in-flight movie.
Gather or Purchase Necessities
Refill and pack prescription medications, along with over-the-counter remedies like pain relievers and indigestion aids. Borrow or buy voltage converters to enable you to use your electric devices, such as your phone charger and hairdryer, in your destination.
Make Financial Arrangements
Visit your bank to acquire a small amount of money in the currency of the country where you’ll be traveling. If you visit a small shop that only takes cash, you need to tip someone, or you lose your credit cards, it will be good to have money on hand.
Also, inform your financial institution and your credit card company of your travel plans and set up alerts for unusual transactions, in the event your card is compromised. You will also want to make note of the contact information on the back of your credit and debit cards so that you can immediately inform the issuers if your cards are misplaced or stolen.
Practice the Native Language
If you’re going to any countries where you’re not fluent in the native language, learn a few key words and phrases so you can communicate with the locals.
Following this checklist will help you have a safe and pleasant journey abroad.