FIND A DATE:
PASSPORTS: Find the expiration date of your passport and make sure it is more than six months AFTER your travel dates. You MUST have a valid passport to fly internationally, If you are traveling to Italy in July, and your passport is due to expire in November, it is NOT valid – RENEW it now! There is still time. Generally, it takes approximately six weeks to receive your new passport. However, if it is necessary, for an extra fee, you can have it in considerably sooner – even within 24 hours.
*Make a copies of your valid passport. Take one with you, and leave one at home with a family member. Scan the copy and email it to yourself or save it on a flash drive. In case of loss or theft, having the copy will make it easier for you to be reissued a new passport.
ANTICIPATE EMERGENCIES: Purchase travel insurance or make sure your own insurance will cover you in case of trip cancellation or interruption, illness abroad, cancelled/delayed flights, lost luggage or other unexpected adversities during your travel. Travel insurance is optional, but always highly recommended.
DON’T GET DECLINED! Notify your bank and credit card company of your travel plans and dates to avoid having your account blocked because they suspect fraudulent activity. Let them know ahead of time and save yourself the hassle of having to contact them and wait to have the account reactivated and a new card issued.
WHEN IN ROME, DON’T ROAM! Check with your mobile carrier on your data plan and international rates to avoid excessive roaming charges. Or simply disable the data till you are somewhere with free WiFi. Before you leave the US, download free apps such as Viber and WhatsApp for talking and texting. Use FaceTime on your I-phone or Skype and Facebook calling for free video calling.
MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ‘ROUND – if it’s the right kind. Withdraw cash from ATMs or exchange money at a bank to get the best exchange rates. Yes, you will pay a fee, but it will still be a better rate than the exchange centers at airports or around town. To minimize service fees, use your debit or credit card for large purchases and pay cash for smaller ones.
TAKE CHARGE! Take a universal voltage adaptor. In fact, take two. Different countries have different size plugs and voltage than we do in the US, so you will need an adaptor to charge your electronics. If everyone wants to charge their phones, cameras, kindles, laptops, etc., you will need more than one!
BONUS TIP: HAPPY FEET! Make sure yours are. In addition to all your fun and fancy shoes, please pack TWO pairs of good, comfortable walking shoes. No matter how much walking you think you will be doing, you will do more. Trust me. And no matter how comfortable your shoes are in the morning, after walking all day, they won’t feel so great in the evening. Trading off different pairs of shoes will keep your shoes from rubbing the same spot on your feet – and keep blisters at bay. I know of what I speak.
FINALLY, assume you will return.
The “General MacArthur approach” is key to travel happiness. You can’t see it all in one trip – don’t even try. Enjoy what you’re seeing and doing. Forget about what you can’t get to this time. This way you’ll have something to start dreaming about on the flight home…for the next trip! 🙂