Congratulations! You have booked your airfare, hotels, excursions, etc., and you are ready for your vacation. But before you go, be sure check out this list of 13 things you should do or bring with you before you leave.
1. Put a travel notice on your debit or credit cards.
Every time you travel contact your bank to let them know where you are going. This will help prevent receiving that error message while you are in a foreign country. Additionally, don’t bring all your cards with you – try to limit it to one or two. Also, use RFID sleeves to protect your cards.
2. Always have local cash.
Some places do not take credit cards, so its always good to have some local cash on you. You can convert some amount of cash over at your local bank before you leave. If you’d rather switch some of your cash over once you arrive, be sure to check with your bank on the international ATM fees associated with your card.
3. Obtain international data for your cell phone.
I know we are all attached to our phones, and they indeed come in handy overseas. Contact your phone provider to see if they offer data plans for your destination. If the rate is too high for your budget, bring your phone anyways, and use the WiFi available at the airport, local cafes and your hotel. Trust me – make sure your data is turned off, or you’ll be crying over your next bill.
Another option is just to go device free all vacation long. Enjoy that time with friends/family and soaking up your surroundings.
4. Plan your first and last days.
The first day of your vacation is usually the most hectic. Planning will help you make the most of the difficult day. Try to locate a couple of things to see/do/eat that are within an easy walking distance of your hotel or hostel. Go for the maximum chill factor when you are mapping out your first hours on vacation.
For your last day, keep a packet marked “Last Day” that has all your return flight information, your house and car keys, and anything else to help make the transition to home smooth when you are completely exhausted thanks to jet lag.
5. Pack an extra day of clothes in your carry-on.
Lost luggage is zero fun. Packing an extra day of clothes in your carry-on will help ensure you aren’t wearing the same thing over and over again or those tacky tourist clothes.
6. Check public transit maps.
It is worthwhile to do a little research on the public transit at your destination. Check to see if any lines or stops are not operational, and how they might impact your sightseeing. You may discover that some forms of the transit are free and will be beneficial in cutting down the walking or Uber fares. A bit of research will have you informed on fares, maps, and your itinerary.
7. Find your hobbies in your destination.
You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find at your destination if you do a little research on your favorite hobbies. Like coffee? Find the best coffee shop. Like books? Find a hole-in-the-wall bookstore. The list is endless.
8. Obtain travel guides.
I’m a travel guide junkie and use them for a lot of my research prior and once in country. I find the Lonely Planet versions are extremely informative. If you don’t want to carry the book, you can download it to your e-reader.
9. Check the weather.
The weather is a factor that will either make or break your vacation. A look at the forecast will help with your packing and ensure you are prepared for all your vacation has to offer.
10. Copies of your passport.
Better safe than sorry, and making a copy of your passport is important for two reasons: it’s always good to have a copy in case your passport is lost or stolen and some accommodations require them. It’s best to keep these copies separate from your actual passport when you are packing. Be sure to leave a copy with a family member or friend.
11. Give a copy of your itinerary to a family member or friend.
In the event of an emergency, it is wise to have someone at home know your whereabouts.
12. Charge your electronics before you leave.
Charing your devices seems like a no-brainer. Also, be sure to pack your chargers in your carryon, so it is easy to access for those layover charges or on the plane. Lastly, don’t forget to pack your adaptor.
13. Pack snacks.
I’m a big snacker when I travel, and airports are not cheap. Throw your favorite snacks in your carry-on and your packed luggage. Traveling is a lot of fun, but sometimes ethnic cuisine doesn’t sit well with you. Snacks come in handy when that occurs.