Withdraw foreign currency
It is best to order local currency from your bank before traveling. If you wait to find a currency exchange at the airport, rates are always higher. You can visit a branch bank or order by phone or online for pickup. Then when you touch down in your destination, you can pay for taxis and food quickly and painlessly.
Most countries with built up infrastructures also widely accept credit cards. And many credit cards such as Chase Sapphire offer zero foreign transaction fees.
Check airline luggage restrictions before packing
Airlines are getting more and more strict about bags every year. Weigh your baggage before leaving home to avoid extra fees on both carry-on and checked luggage. If you find out you are above the weight limit once at the gate, you could be charged two to three times more than the normal rate. Leave a bit of extra space in your carry-on to transfer items from your checked bag if you are above the weight limit.
Pack your bags
Don't way until the last minute to pack! You risk packing unnecessary items or forgetting the essentials. Check out our helpful tips to packing light.
Place a hold on mail
Placing a hold on mail with the post office not only prevents an overflowing mailbox, it also helps keep sensitive info on bank statements more secure. It's quick and easy to arrange this hold online through USPS!
Upgrade your phone plan
Unless you want to disconnect completely for the trip (which is possible!), check with your carrier to see if there are international plans available. Another option is purchasing an international sim card.
Get any necessary vaccines
Depending on the country you’re visiting, you might need to get vaccinated. Some vaccines require multiple shots over a the course of a few weeks, and sometimes you need certain shots within a specific time frame before leaving the country. Do your research and talk to your doctor to find out what all you’ll need before leaving. Your health insurance should cover the vaccines, but again, call first to confirm before heading to your local pharmacy.
Alert your bank and credit card companies of your travel dates
Banks make every effort to protect you from identity theft while at home. But If they see credit card transactions or ATM use in an unfamiliar location, the may assume it is fraud and put a hold on your card. Setting a travel notice before you depart lets your bank know you are in control of your account. Most banks allow you to arrange this online with your destination and length of trip.
It’s also a good idea to bring more than one credit or debit card and store one in a safe place in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
Leave an itinerary with family or friends
Designate an emergency contact that has all of your flight and accommodation information on hand. This gives both yourself and your family and friends peace of mind, should something go wrong on your trip or back at home.
Arrange transportation to the airport
Depending on how far you live from the airport and the length of your trip, parking at the airport might be more cost-effective than taking an Uber. Check out this handy guide that breaks it down for 15 major airports around the US. Best yet, if you have a friend who is willing to drop you off you will save major $$!
Star key places on Google Maps
Out of the thousands of travel apps out there, I think the most useful one is Google Maps. Before I go anywhere, I always open up the app, and star (save) all of the places I know I’m going: my hotels, restaurants, tour meeting points, etc.
These stars (and your exact current location) always show up in the app, whether you have service/wifi or not. This makes navigation an absolute breeze and I truly have no idea how I ever traveled without Google Maps before.
Make copies of important documents
Make copies of your passport, tickets, credit cards and other important travel documents. To take your security one step further, email the scanned copies to yourself so you can access them if you happen to lose your copies as well.
Additionally, print out reservation confirmations and itineraries to have on hand if needed.
Join STEP for emergencies
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service for American citizens which provides important alerts and warnings about the safety conditions in your destination. STEP also helps the US Embassy, friends, and family contact you in case of an emergency and to help if your passport is lost or stolen.