Don’t Go On Vacation Before Doing These 6 Things
The best travel experiences always require some preparation first before you leave. So, whatever you do, don’t go on vacation before doing these 6 things.
1. Check Passport & Visa Requirements
The last thing you’ll want is to have your whole trip booked, get to your destination and then be denied entry or face a large charge because of not having the proper travel documentation ready.
This happened to me some years ago. I had a whole trip planned to the Philippines, got there and at Customs realized that they required 6 months remaining on a passport to allow entry (*note: this is pretty standard for most countries with some exceptions). If I had done my research beforehand this wouldn’t have been an issue. Instead, I had to book an unplanned flight to and hotel in Japan, which has a much more flexible entry requirement, to get my passport renewed to continue my Philippines trip.
When looking at travel destinations always check with your government’s travel and tourism site to see what the entry requirements are. When requiring a visa it’s often cheaper to get the visa before you leave than getting it at the point of entry to your destination.
Don’t go on vacation before checking the entry requirements.
2. Buy Travel Insurance
Having some sort of travel insurance is so important when travelling because you can never tell what’s going to happen. Travel insurance takes care of all of those “what ifs”.
There are 3 main coverage areas with travel insurance:
- Trip cancellation/interruption
- Medical insurance
- Baggage and personal item loss
Most benefits plans that you get with your employer will already come with some form of travel medical insurance, but I still recommend checking the details because often the coverage is minimal.
Many travel credit cards, especially “Gold” cards, come with great trip cancellation/interruption and baggage/personal item loss coverages, as well as some extra perks like airport lounge access. If you have one of these cards I’d recommend booking your travel on it.
If none of the above applies to you then there are many providers that you can buy travel insurance from, often bundled to include all 3 types of coverage for a single low fee. Just do a simple Google search for travel insurance quotes and find one that works best for you.
No matter what, don’t go on vacation before getting some form of coverage.
3. Inform Your Bank and Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans
If you use your credit and/or debit cards overseas without first letting your bank or credit card companies know then your cards will most likely get locked. This might not sound like a very big deal but if that is your only method of payment and it happens when your bank or card company is closed for the day it can put a damper on your plans.
Putting travel notifications on your cards is very easy to do and can often be done online or through an automated system. It’s worth the 5-10 minutes it takes to save yourself stress and embarrassment.
Don’t go on vacation before putting travel notification on your debit and credit cards.
4. Grab Some Local Currency
When travelling internationally it’s always good to have some of the local currency with you when you get there. Don’t assume that every place takes credit or debit card.
You also don’t want to be getting local currency from airports, train stations, tourist spots, etc. You will be charged way above normal rates there.
You definitely don’t want to take out a huge amount of cash and carry that around with you. Assume that you will withdraw some cash at your destination while you’re there, just not at the tourist traps. I recommend getting some local currency of the destination you’re going to at a money changer that is local to you that has fair exchange rates.
A good place to check and compare exchange rates is at XE.
Don’t go on vacation before grabbing some local currency of your destination.
5. Check Airline Baggage Allowance
Before you go to the airport, in fact before you even start packing, you want to check and then double-check your airline’s baggage allowance policy in detail so that you don’t get burned with unexpected fees at check-in.
Often what you’ll see on your flight details is something like “One checked item and one carry on”. It’s important to read the airline’s baggage policy to see up to what weight they allow without having to pay extra fees. If you get to the check-in and your luggage is over the allowed limit there are often very high fees you’ll have to pay, or you’ll have to open your luggage at the airport and rearrange things, which can be very embarrassing.
For more information on baggage rules and allowances check out AirHelp’s post Demystifying the Mystery of Baggage Allowance, but still also check with our airline’s policy directly.
Don’t go on vacation before checking your airline’s baggage allowance policy.
6. Print Off Reservation & Booking Info
Almost everything is online nowadays, which is great! When travelling, you really don’t need to bring reservation and booking information with you anymore, but I still recommend that you do it anyway.
It’s always good to have a backup. What if you can’t get a Wi-Fi or data connection? What if you accidentally delete the confirmation emails? Whatever reason you can think of it’s always good to have a backup.
Don’t go on vacation before printing off copies of your reservation and booking information.
We all want our vacations to go smoothly and be stress-free. Throughout my years of travel, I’ve learned that the above tasks help everything go so much better and will get your trips off on the right foot. Don’t go on vacation before doing these 6 things.