Know Before You Go: Tips for the Savvy Traveler

There’s much more to planning the perfect trip than booking airfares and accommodations. Here’s what you need to know before you go to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

 

Just this past week, I was chatting with a fellow traveler onboard a cruise ship. As he was talking about his pending travel plans abroad, it quickly became clear he wasn’t aware of some of the things he needed to take care of before stepping foot outside the country. These are just a few of the things you need to know before you go on your next trip.

Travel Documents

By now it’s pretty common knowledge that you need a passport to enter another country. But that’s not always enough. While our great country has travel agreements with many nations, you may need a travel visa as well. You can check with the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs to find out if the place you’re planning to visit requires any special travel documents in order to enter.

Avoiding Illness

It’s always a good idea to keep up to date on your immunizations. If you’re an avid traveler, it may be more of a necessity than you know. Some countries require you to be immunized against specific diseases and provide proof upon arrival. For a list of recommended and required immunizations, you can check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Traveler’s Health site. For the basics, like rubella or tetanus, your family doctor can likely take care of them for you. For less common vaccines, such as yellow fever, you many need to visit a special travel clinic. You can find a listing of local clinics on the CDC Traveler’s Health site.

Money Matters

Financial institutions may lock down access to your credit cards and bank accounts if they don’t know you plan on being out of town. The last thing you need is to be without money in a foreign place. Most banks and credit card companies have pretty sophisticated technology these days. They have ways to monitor your accounts for unusual activity. But it’s a good idea to check if the companies you use require a travel notification when you plan on leaving your hometown. Usually, you can find an online link where you can provide the details of your travels. Or you may need to make a quick phone call.

Consular Contacts

Sometimes unfortunate events occur. We don’t usually plan for them in advance. But things happen. If you find yourself in a sticky situation—a lost passport, act of nature, health scare, local state of emergency, or even an arrest—you need to know who to call for help. Always have the contact information for the local embassy or consulate handy. They know how to get you the help you need when you need it.

Safety Considerations

No one wants to focus on the negative before going on an adventure. But it’s just good common sense to know the potential dangers before you leave home. For everything from petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, to possible terrorist threats, you can find the latest travel warnings and alerts online. It’s a good idea to check them out before you book in case anything raises a red flag for you. We all have different thresholds, so what seems like the norm to you, may be a deal breaker for someone else. And because we live in an ever-changing world, check again before you leave the country to be sure you have the most current information.

Ensure You’re Insured

It’s the little details that fall through the cracks. Travel insurance is often one of them. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get so sick you need to be hospitalized or that your luggage will completely disappear off the planet, but you never know. If you break your leg the week before you’re planning to hike Machu Picchu, you’ll be thankful you spent the few extra bucks for cancellation insurance. Or what if you knock out a tooth when you trip and fall on one of those cobblestone streets in Europe? A trip to the dentist is extremely costly if you don’t have proper coverage.

These are a smattering of things you should know before you go on any vacation. If you’ve got others to add to the list, share them on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook or Twitter pages.

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