I have shared before how I prepare for international travel, but it has been a while, and there are tons of things that change over time, so I thought it’d be good to share an updated checklist.
My International Travel Checklist
- Plan ahead for any bills you may have come due while you’re away. You can’t always guarantee that you’ll have a secure connection, and I personally, try to avoid logging into my banks on open wi-fi (e.g. in airport lounges, hotels) in general. Unless I have a stable Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, and even then I don’t like to do it.
- Know what the foreign exchange rate is when you leave – I always check XE Currency for the latest information, that way I have a notional number in my head for how much currency I might need. If I’m going multiple places, I’ll make notes of roughly what I want to take out of the ATM. In most places, I’ll take out between $100-300 US equivalent, if I’m going to be there for a few days.
- Notify your bank of travel. Not all banks require this, like Chase, but it is still good practice.
- Have an electronic and hard copy of your passport. It wouldn’t hurt also to note somewhere securely the credit cards you are taking as well.
- Have electronic and hard copies of your travel itineraries. Sometimes airlines or immigration officials will want to see that you have onward flights. Also, you never know whether you’ll get into a taxi and the taxi driver won’t know where your hotel is. It’s increasingly rare, but I encountered this very situation, when I visited the new Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro last month.
- Consider travel insurance. This isn’t the insurance that the airlines offer when you purchase your ticket. I’m talking about the kind that gives you medical evacuation if needed, or pays for medical care overseas. Dia has a great post on this, including her recent experience.
- If you have to have a phone, make the proper arrangements. I have a T-mobile iPhone for international travel that gives me 100mb of international data roaming per month, which I pair with available wi-fi, it’s a cheap alternative, at least for me. If not, make sure you download any google maps.
- Make sure you have at least one (I recommend two) credit cards with no foreign transaction fee. There are plenty out there, Bank of America’s new Alaska Air card has no fee, for example. Second, whenever you pay for something and the vendor / cashier asks if you want the amount converted into US Dollars (or your local currency), the answer is always no. There is usually a higher fee, or the conversion is at a poor rate, meaning it isn’t worth it,
- Ensure you have an international adapter, perhaps even include a small travel power strip , if you have a lot of electronics that you’d like to charge while you travel.
- Put a hold on your mail and, if you think you might receive packages, you can put a hold on them too.
This is my checklist. It has continued to evolve over time, and it always will.
What is on your International Travel Checklist? Please share in the comment section.