Getting ready for a trip is both exhilarating and terrifying. While I’m always SO excited about the adventures I’m about to have, there is always that nagging feeling that I’m forgetting to do something important.
Though I admit I still have a moment of sheer panic halfway to the airport when I’m certain I forgot to pack my passport/wallet/clean underwear, left the oven on, and forgot to close the front door, Sam and I have gotten pretty good at preparing for trips.
Further Reading: How to Travel When You Have a Full-Time Job
We’ve found that being properly prepared for a trip not only makes our time away more enjoyable, but also makes our return much smoother.
Here is our list of 17 things to do before traveling abroad:
1. Check passport/visa requirements.
Being denied boarding because you don’t have a proper visa or your passport is expired would be heartbreak on par with Old Yeller. Be sure to look up the entry requirements for your destination with plenty of time to apply for a visa/new passport if necessary.
2. Put your mail on hold.
Don’t let two weeks worth of mail pile up on your doorstep. Aside from being annoying, it can also alert potential thieves that you’re out of town.
3. Alert your bank.
As an anti-theft mechanism, your bank may freeze your account if your credit card suddenly shows up in an unusual location. To avoid being cut off from your funds in a foreign country, be sure to alert your bank of your travel plans in advance.
4. Arrange airport transfer (at home and in your destination).
Leaving a vehicle in the airport parking lot can quickly become expensive. Instead, Sam and I typically ask a friend or relative to take us to the airport. If none of your friends are available, try Uber or Lyft.
You should also figure out how you will get from the airport to your accommodations upon arrival.
5. Leave your travel info with a trusted friend/relative.
We always leave a tentative travel itinerary, the contact information for our hotels, and a photocopy of our passports with a friend or relative (usually our parents). We feel better knowing that someone back home knows where we are!
6. Look up nearest embassy location.
In case of emergency, Sam and I like to figure out where the closest American Embassy is to our destination. Call us paranoid if you want, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.
7. Arrange for someone to check on your house.
If your trip is fairly long, you may want to arrange for a friend or neighbor to stop by your house periodically to ensure everything is in order. We have a lot of houseplants, so we like to have someone swing by and water them. Of course, the average lifespan of plants in our house is approximately 6 weeks whether we’re home or not, so I’m not sure why we even bother…
8. Figure out a phone plan.
Using your phone abroad is an easy way to rack up a massive bill. If you think you will need to use cellular data on your trip, be sure to discuss special plans with your phone provider.
Of course, if you’re like us, having a legitimate excuse not to answer your phone is half the appeal of traveling in the first place.
9. Learn a few phrases in the local language.
Learning how to say a few phrases in the local language is always a good idea. Even if you completely butcher the pronunciation (which I consistently do in every country I visit), locals are often grateful for your effort.
10. Check the outlets/voltage in your destination.
To safely use electronics abroad, you may need to purchase an electricity adaptor. Outlet types vary by region, so be sure to check the requirements for your destination country specifically.
11. Put a casserole in the freezer.
While at first glance this seems like a weird pre-trip priority, your exhausted, jet-lagged self will be eternally thankful. When you get home from an epic vacation, you don’t want to worry about buying groceries and cooking.
12. Wash your sheets and make your bed.
Likewise, after sleeping in unfamiliar settings, nothing is more comforting than coming home to crisp clean sheets and your own bed.
13. Clean your house.
I know, I know. The day before your holiday, scrubbing the toilet bowl is probably the last thing you want to do. But trust us on this one. Coming home to a clean house will make your return to daily life so much easier.
Further Reading: How We Afford to Travel…And How You Can Too!
14. Check the weather forecast.
Always check the weather forecast in your destination so you aren’t caught off guard when you arrive.
15. Adjust thermostat.
Don’t waste money cooling/heating an empty house! We always adjust ours to be a few degrees warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter.
16. Print boarding pass.
To avoid waiting in a massive line at the airport, we always check in for our flights and print our boarding pass at home.
Don’t get so caught up in the pre-trip frenzy that you lose sight of how much fun you are going to have!
What is something you always do before traveling abroad?
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