8 Things Most People Forget to Do Before Traveling

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Awesome Tips   Traveler's Toolbox  

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The final days leading up to vacation are some of the most exciting, but they can be a bit overwhelming too. In the whirlwind of packing, running errands and cleaning the house, some essential travel preparations can easily be forgotten. Keep this list of eight important things to remember on hand when making the final preparations for your next vacation, and you may just save yourself a lot of stress down the road.

#1. Make Copies

Keep a digital and hard copy of all of your travel documents — passport, driver’s license, travel itinerary, car rental confirmation, travel insurance, health insurance, etc. — in a safe place in your luggage (or a hotel safe) whenever you’re traveling abroad. Scan each of these documents and email a copy to yourself as well. Although you may not ever need these documents during your vacation, you’ll be very happy you have them on hand if problems arise. If you’re traveling abroad, leave your original passport in a safe place (if possible) and take a paper copy of your passport into town with you.

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#2. Call Your Bank

Call your bank and credit card companies to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. Banks and credit card companies may freeze your account if they notice you’re trying to withdraw money in a foreign country without letting them know first. Be sure to write down the company phone numbers in case they do freeze your account while you’re away.

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#3. Stash Some Cash

It’s easy to assume that you’ll be able to use a credit card everywhere you go on vacation, but even a simple cab ride can have you lining up at the ATM and paying expensive foreign charges. Pack at least $100 away in your bag for any expenses that may pop up before you’re able to hit an ATM. Even better, exchange some of your cash into the foreign currency before you go to get a better rate than you’ll find at the airport.

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#4. Make a Contact Card

Always keep an index card with important phone numbers listed on it when traveling. If your cellphone battery dies or your entire phone goes missing, you’ll be able to contact your loved ones to let them know you’re OK, or you’ll be able to call your hotel and ask for directions. It’s amazing how few phone numbers we remember when our phones go kaput.

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#5. Fill Your Prescriptions

Planning a long vacation? Ask your doctor to fill your prescription for three months (or longer) at a time instead of just one month. Many medications can be tough to find in other countries and communicating exactly what you need can be difficult.

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#6. Call Your Phone Company

Nothing’s more disheartening than a $300 phone bill weeks after you’ve returned home from a relaxing vacation. Call your phone company ahead of time to find out about special travel rates or consider taking an old phone with you on vacation to use with a foreign SIM card. If you haven’t purchased a special roaming package for your travels, be sure to turn your data off as soon as you enter another country to avoid outrageous roaming charges.

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#7. Check In for Your Flight

Not only can you save time by checking into your flight and printing your boarding pass before you head to the airport, you can actually save money, because some budget airlines are now charging fees for passengers who don’t already have their boarding passes in hand. Even better, you can choose your seats ahead of time to ensure you’re sitting near your kids or by the window for more comfortable in-flight naps.

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#8. Research the Local Dress

Before you pack your bags, research what is acceptable attire in the country you’ll be visiting. Some cultures dress more conservatively than others, and you’ll want to show your respect for their unique culture by dressing appropriately. You’ll also want to make sure you have the proper attire for the weather conditions where you’ll be visiting. You don’t want to be exploring Central America in the rainy season without your rain jacket.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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