There are a lot of things you need to think of when planning on traveling. Of course there are simple things like a tooth brush or sunscreen, but you can buy these things pretty much everywhere (at least at an airport). So may it happen you forget things like that, it’s not really your worst case scenario.
But there are a couple important things to look into before traveling, things that aren’t that easy to fix last minute and can cause serious complications. That’s why it’s very important to do good research on your destination. Preparation is key and nothing beats a stress-free travel experience! So, just to make sure you’ve got everything you need and don’t end up with any surprises I made you a checklist with things to check before traveling.
The first thing to look into is (of course) the expiration date of your passport. Most countries require your passport being at least valid for the upcoming 6 months while traveling. Renewing your passport may take some time, so it’s important you check this right away.
Another thing to check is if you need a visa. Some countries will allow you for a short period of time without applying for a visa, but don’t just assume! A fast and easy way to check if a visa is required is the online-tool Project Visa. Here you can look for specific requirements per country, including links to government websites with additional information on how to apply if needed. A thing to keep in mind is that some applications may take longer than others. Therefor it’s advisable to apply at least 6-8 weeks before your departure date. Make sure you have enough free visa-pages, since some countries are really strict on only allowing a visa on a visa-page.
Tip: If you’re planning on driving, also check if you need an international drivers license!
These days a lot of us travel with a lot of valuables, like cameras, phones and laptops. Besides your valuables, it’s also good to consider your health. Accidents happen, so it may not be such a bad idea to look into a good travel and health insurance. Also, some travel operators may only allow you to travel with them if you’re insured. Most of the times you get to choose if you want to buy coverage per trip or a yearly coverage.
If you travel a lot a yearly coverage can be very interesting, because it’s usually cheaper than a coverage per trip. Make sure you have the coverage you actually need by looking into the terms & conditions of the insurance policy. If you’re not exactly sure on what coverage you need, it’s always best to contact a consultant.
In some countries you’ll get confronted with diseases, insects or bacteria. For that reason it’s very important to take the right health precautions before traveling. Are there any required vaccinations? If so, when should you get them? And if you’ve had vaccinations before, are they still valid and do they cover your upcoming trip? Is it a malaria-area, so do you need malaria pills? Are there a lot of mosquito’s or other insects you will be needing repellent for? A lot of questions that all need answers. And I know I was being really nonchalant about being able to buy stuff like that and sunscreen on the airport, but save yourself money and buy a brand your familiar with and that’s suitable for your skin. Also, if you have prescribed medication, make sure you have enough for the duration of your trip and always bring (a copy of) your prescription!
Tip: If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the ocean, buy hydrocortisone cream; a great substance when it comes to treating jellyfish stings! If you’re visiting hot and dry countries, get some Oral Hydration Solution (ORS).
Not every country has the same power sockets. One of the best ways of checking what plug you need is the Power Plugs and Sockets of the World. It will not just tell you what type socket you’ll find in the country your visiting, but it will show you exactly what plug you need.
Tip: Make sure you bring several world plugs, since it’s likely you will need more than one at a time.
Always lock (and/or seal) your suitcase while traveling. I prefer using a luggage lock, because it can also come in pretty handy when your hotel doesn’t have a safe! The United States require you to have a TSA-approved lock. This way customs can easily open and close your suitcase for checks (otherwise they break it open). A lot of other countries work with TSA too, so it’s most convenient to have one of those. You can recognize them by this red logo:
Before traveling, make sure you activate international access to your bank cards. Check if you need a credit card if you don’t have one yet. Even if you already have one, check if yours gets accepted and what the charges are for using it abroad. The last thing you want is arriving at a destination, convinced you got it all covered and then they won’t accept a (certain) credit card or you end up with sky-high bills… It’s also always smart to bring some cash, when possible in local currency. At some places the exchange office may already be closed and you won’t run into any ATM’s for a while. Better safe than sorry, right?!
put it on paper
I’m all up for saving the environment, printing less documents and using my phone to organize instead, but when it comes to traveling I need my prints (or notes)! Boarding passes, confirmations, important contacts, etc.: it’s always nice to have a back-up in case anything happens to your phone..
If you like to make an itinerary (I strongly advise to make one!), make sure you add addresses and phone numbers for hotels, transportation, tours etc. to your itinerary. This way you have a full overview and you can contact the hotel or instruct a taxi when needed. Leave a copy with friends/family so they know how to contact you in case of an emergency. Also print out a list with important contacts, like the embassy, the police, emergency services, your insurance company, bank and tour operator.
And last but not least, make sure you bring some copies of your passport, so you can carry a copy (or just carry your drivers license). Leave your passport in the safe to avoid risk of losing it. But even if so, with a good preparation you should have the contact details for the embassy on paper somewhere right?!