Whether you are traveling internationally for the first time or for the fifth time, below are 7 must-dos that you need to follow so you start your trip off right with as little stress as possible.
3 Months Before Your Trip
1. Make sure your passport is current.
Stop right now and check to make sure your passport is current. If you need to renew your passport, or apply for your first one, do it NOW! Go to the U.S. Passports and International Travels website to begin the process. Processing times for passports are: Routine 4-6 weeks, Expedited 3 weeks, Expedited at Agency* 8 business days (*based on needs, restrictions apply). Once you have your passport, make sure you make 2 copies. Take a copy with you and leave a copy at home, just incase.
1 Month Before Your Trip
2. Call your bank.
Notify your bank about your international travel. Give them the dates of when you will be there so they will not be suspicious when they see charges from overseas. If you plan on using your debit or credit card on ATM machines, make sure your ATM card company is compatible with machines in the country you are traveling to. If your ATM card has a “Cirrus” or “Plus” sign then you should be able to withdraw cash. By using these ATM’s you will receive the exact exchange rates of the day. Regardless, be sure to talk to your banking institution about which ATM’s to use, fees and restrictions.
While you are talking to your bank, be sure to ask about getting foreign currency. Personally, I like to travel with some actual currency of the country I’m traveling too in my pocket. I contact my local bank and order about a $150 worth, at least. The exchange rate is better if you do it in the States. Several banks offer this service online.
3. Call your credit card company.
If you plan on using a credit or debit card, make sure you notify each of your credit card companies in advance that you will be making purchases overseas. They will ask the dates of your trip and where you will be going.
4. Call your phone carrier.
Check with your phone carrier about data roaming charges and plans they offer for international calls.
I just talked with my phone carrier, Sprint, and was pleasantly surprised. Sprint nows offers an International Value Roaming Plan for FREE! If you are a Sprint customer you can add Sprint International Value Roaming to any plan and get free unlimited data (data speeds up to 2G) and text. Plus calls are just 20¢/min. in any of the International Value Roaming countries.
Also check into Skype and Face Time and other free texting/communication apps.
5. Call your health insurance company.
Make sure you contact your health insurance company and let them know that you are traveling overseas. Ask about their policy concerning coverage when you are out of the country, as getting health insurance while visiting the US is much easier than outside of the US, and might vary in what it covers, too.
1 Week Before Your Trip
6. Register your trip with the U.S. Department of State
You need to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is a service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs with the U.S. Department of State. By registering, the U.S. State Department will have a record of your where-a-bouts should something happen. They will contact you instead of you trying to contact them. Each family only has to register once. If you have multiple family members traveling simply hit the “additional traveler” tab and fill out the relevant information.
7. Start Taking Emergen-C or AirBorne
Now that you’ve done all this work, you don’t want to get sick before or on your trip! Time to start filling up on vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes. Two of my favorite immune support supplements are Emergen-C and Airborne.
Check out these awesome must-haves that I always take when I travel internationally:
#1 Best Selling Travel Pillow
eBags Packing Cubes
Mudder US UK EU AU Universal All In One International Travel Power Plug Adapter
Merax Travelhouse Luggage 3 Piece Expandable Spinner Set