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It’s funny, for traveling quite a bit, I still get relatively overwhelmed (and frustrated) with planning a trip and regularly forget things.
Aside from recently visiting Italy and Indonesia, I’ve mainly stayed in Thailand over the past year where I’m familiar with destinations, visa rules, costs and how to get around. Currently, however, I’m in the early planning stages for a trip to Europe this October (more details coming soon!) and having to remember all the bits and pieces I have to take care of to pull the trip off.
Of course things like planning where to go and buying plane tickets are a no brainer, but in the excitement and anticipation of visiting places I have never been before, other important, but less interesting, tasks can be forgotten.
Don’t wait until right before you leave to get these four aspects of planning a trip sorted!
This is usually something I think about after I’ve decided where I want go. With a U.S. passport I have an unfair advantage for being able to visit most other countries without worrying about having my entry denied – I still need to get the proper visas though.
Depending on where you go the visa process can be quick and easy, or difficult and drawn out which is why it’s important to start researching what you need and applying early. It’s also critical to pay attention to different passport requirements to make sure your passport has the correct validity and amount of pages available – don’t assume that if you still have a couple pages left or a few months until your current visa expires you’re good to go!
Like visas, this is another thing I tend to overlook simply because…well who wants to spend their time researching and going to get shots? When I first went to Thailand, I had no idea I might even need special vaccinations or medications since I had only traveled in North America and Western Europe before. While some vaccinations are just suggested, others are mandatory. This list does a good job breaking down what vaccines are required or suggested for specific countries.
This goes beyond simply budgeting for the trip – you need to consider how you will manage your money while you’re away as well as how you’ll access it during your travels. You also have to take into consideration the are where you’re traveling too and how people usually pay for things.
For example, if you’re traveling through Southeast Asia, you will not be using your credit card like you normally do at home – it’s not possible. Cash is king, there are ATMs everywhere, and many places don’t accept credit cards and if they do they transfer the processing fee over to you (something that you usually don’t see in a place like the U.S.). In that case, you’ll be using your ATM card to get cash out far more than a credit card and should look into getting one that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you’re heading somewhere like the U.S., where even $2 bills are paid for with a credit card, you’ll need to check your credit card’s credit limit, etc. (Check back tomorrow for a new guest post on which credit cards are good for travelers!)
You also need to remember to contact your bank and credit card companies notifying them of your upcoming travel plans to ensure they don’t freeze your accounts for unexpected foreign transactions!
Another fun one. What insurance you need is completely dependent on your individual situation, current coverage and travel plans. Someone who has great health insurance and is going on vacation to relax on the beach for a week will need something completely different than someone traveling longterm, with expensive gear, or who’s planning on trying out all the adventure sports available! Sometimes you can get coverage through your current provider, sometimes you can’t. Living abroad I had health insurance back in the U.S. as well as travel insurance from World Nomads – mainly because it covered motorbike accidents and was simple to continually renew or purchase while I was already out of the country. Again, this is something that should be researched and figured out early on – don’t leave it till the last minute!
What other annoying, but necessary, things do you get in order before going on a trip? Have you ever forgotten something really important?