Planning an international trip is fun and exciting—but if you’re anything like me, you’ll sometimes find yourself scrambling to pack and get everything ready at the last minute. So before you take-off, make sure you take care of these 7 essentials:
1. Call your credit card company
Let them know you’ll be out of the county. Not all companies require this, but better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want your credit card to be frozen because Visa thinks your breakfast pastry in Finland was a fraudulent charge—nor do you want to have to figure out how to use the Finnish pay phones just to correct them of their error.
2. Buy or borrow plug converters
Cell phones, iPods, and laptops are pretty useless when they’re out of battery. Different countries have different plug shapes, so check ahead to find out which converter you’ll need. Pay attention, too, to voltage—many outlets in other countries typically carry twice the voltage as U.S. outlets (220 V instead of 110 V) you can fry your devices if you plug them into a high-voltage outlet without a converter.
3. Pay your bills
Seems completely obvious, but this to-do is often forgotten. Make sure you pay in advance or set up auto-pay for your rent, utilities, cell phone, cable, or other bills that will come due while you’re away.
4. Write down local emergency numbers
What happens if you call 911 in Japan? Well…not quite what you’d think. Make sure you know where to call for help when in your destination city, and consider jotting down the number of your country’s embassy abroad as well.
5. Make sure you know your health insurance coverage overseas
If you break your leg in front of Notre Dame, the last thing you want to hear is that your insurance company doesn’t cover events that happen abroad. Call them before your trip, and consider getting travel insurance if you won’t be as covered as you’d like.
6. Make color photocopies of your passport
If your passport is lost or stolen in the bustling markets of Cairo, you’re going to need to prove your identity at the consulate or police station. Make a few color photocopies of your passport before your trip and bring one copy with you (to leave at the hotel), give one to a family member or friend (who can send it to you) and scan one copy that you then email to yourself, for easy access.
7. Stop by the ATM
Not only can foreign transaction fees be expensive, but in many cities abroad, merchants do not accept credit cards as frequently as you’ve come to expect in the U.S. Make sure to take at least $100 in cash (up to $300, depending on your budget) and stow it in a safe spot. Once you arrive at your destination, consider leaving a good portion of it in a secure location, such as a hotel lockbox.
Have other travel must-dos to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and have a great trip!