Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but preparing for them rarely is. The weeks and days leading up to your departure are often fraught with last minute worries, and never ending lists of what to do, prepare, pack and book. We know how overwhelming this can be, especially for first time travelers, so in order to help take some of the stress out of travel, we have compiled a list of basic to do’s once your initial trip is booked.
1. Prepare Passport and Visas
First and foremost you will need your passport. Make sure that you have at least 6 months remaining after the end of your trip, otherwise you could find yourself being refused entry to some countries. If you don’t have a passport, leave yourself plenty of time for applying for one before your trip. At certain time of year the processing can take up to 3 months especially if you’ve never had one before. You also have to take Visa wait time into account. Check the countries you are visiting to see if you need a travel visa ahead of time, as this can add another month or so to your wait.
2. Travel Apps
Make sure your portable devices are loaded up with a couple of these before you fly. Apps such as TripIt are invaluable in organizing you, and making sure your trip takes off as smoothly as possible. If your unsure of which to use, check out our app blog above and find out about our top picks.
3. Get Vaccinated
Whether going local or global it’s still worth making sure you are up to date on all your shots. Check out the CDC website for your chosen destination and see what vaccinations they recommend. Keep in mind some countries such as Peru require immunizations such as yellow fever in order to enter the country, so make sure you get an up to date vaccination card, and slip this into your passport before you go.
4. Hit Up Your Local Pharmacy
It’s always worth stocking up on a basic first aid kit before you travel. You never know if you’ll be in reach of a pharmacy when sickness hits, especially if you’re traveling to far flung corners of the earth. We recommend items such as insect repellent, band-aids, gauze, tape, pain/fever relievers, sun screen, Dramamine and anti-diarrhea pills.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Insure Yourself
Finding and getting travel insurance before a trip can seem like an unnecessary hassle at times, especially for short trips, but it’s always worth while. Even well seasoned travelers aren’t exempt from calamity striking. For the few dollars that policies cost, you could end up saving yourself thousand in the long run. Insurance covers everything from lost baggage, canceled flights, theft and repatriation/medical evacuation should the worst happen.
6. Gadgets, Gadgets Gadgets
Who wants to spend their time in Paris choosing cafes based on the fact they have electrical outlets rather than the best croissants. Free yourself from your wires and pack a portable charger. These work on a variety of mobile devices, phones, ipads, laptops, and cameras using USB ports so you need never miss that perfect shot when your battery dies.
7. Be a Copy Cat
Make copies of everything! Our mantra is you can never have enough. The most important ones are your passport, visa, insurances docs and credit cards. Should you lose anything while abroad, it’ll be far easier and faster to replace if you have copies. Put one set of these documents in your hand luggage and suitcase, and don’t forget to leave a copy at home with a friend or family member. This means that if worst comes to the worst and you lose everything, you have a back up. This is vitally important for your passport as it means you can get a emergency copy from the nearest embassy with very little hassle.
8. List it!
If you’re tech savvy use an app like packing pro. You can create your own check list, and tick items off as they go in your case. Not sure what to pack? Pick a pre-designed packing list based on your trip type or location. Not into apps? A simple pen and paper list works just as well. Don’t forget basic life saving items for more exotic trips, such as Kleenex, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. These are vital when visiting countries with less than desirable bathroom conditions. It’s also advisable to take plenty of cash with you. While almost everywhere in the world now accepts plastic, you might run into places that don’t. It can also save you excessive bank fees which pile up pretty quickly abroad, especially if you’re withdrawing cash! Decide on an amount, then double it. You won’t regret it.
9. Call It In
It’s something that many people overlook, but it can save you a great deal of time and money if you call your bank before you travel. Due to increased security on credit cards and banks, you can often find yourself with blocked bank and credit cards while abroad. If they don’t know you’re traveling, then those 500 dollar Egyptian silk sheets you bought it Cairo, may to them, seem like a fraudulent purchase and cause a block to be put on your account. Simply place a call and let them know where and when you’re going so they know to expect purchases and withdrawals from afar. Otherwise you could find yourself without any cash in an emergency situation, and on a long, costly, long distance call to rectify the situation.
If you follow all this advice you’re well on your way to having a fun, relaxing and safe trip. Just remember to pack your flexibility, understanding and patience and you will be sure to have the time of your life!!