The countdown is on and your trip is just around the corner! There is nothing that can put a dampen on that excitement quite like arriving at the airport and finding out you actually need a visa for your destination, or you’ve arrived at your destination but there is no wifi to help you find the address of your hotel. Unexpected surprises like this can easily be avoided by making sure you are fully prepared before you leave. Here’s a checklist to cover all of the essentials:
1. Double-Check Travel Documents
Ensure you have all the required visas and documents, such as your passport and vaccination certificates, before you depart. It's important to do this well in advance, as any missing documents may take a while to obtain. This could prevent you from entering the country. Check your passport pages to make sure they are in good condition; some countries may be strict due to concerns about counterfeit documents. If you have any concerns, get advice from your country's passport office or, if you’re already abroad, from your closest embassy or consulate.
2. Get Travel Insurance
No matter how much you prepare, travel can be unpredictable. Anything from flight cancellations to lost luggage, medical emergencies, or even natural disasters can throw a wrench in your plans and ruin your trip. That's where travel insurance comes in - it can save your butt (and your wallet) when things go sideways. Whether you're heading overseas or just a few states away, travel insurance gives you peace of mind knowing you're covered if something goes wrong.
We never leave home without coverage from Safety Wing. They offer affordable and flexible plans so no matter whether we are traveling for a week or 6 months we know we are protected.
3. Notify Your Bank
Your card may be blocked if you make purchases in a foreign country, preventing you from accessing your funds. To avoid this, let your bank know your travel plans beforehand. Additionally, it's wise to have some extra cash on hand, preferably in the local currency, in case your card is not accepted or there are no ATMs. Avoid exchange centers if possible, as they often have unfavorable exchange rates.
4. Make Copies of Documents
It's always beneficial to have copies of your travel documents and bookings for reasons such as:
A backup if your documents are lost or stolen (though photocopies won't be accepted officially).
To prove your identity and nationality when you don't want to carry your passport.
To give to the embassy, if needed.
To provide a copy to hotels, rental companies, insurance companies, or immigration officers, if needed.
For official travel documents such as passports, visas, and vaccine certificates, it's best to have both a physical and digital copy, as which one you need can depend on the situation. It's also a good idea to email a copy of each of these to yourself for backup. For booking confirmations and insurance policy details, a soft copy is usually enough. Additionally, it's wise to have a set of passport-sized photos on hand in case you need to apply for additional visas or an emergency passport.
5. Download Offline Maps & Transport Apps
Google Maps and Maps.me both offer detailed maps that can be used without an internet connection. Offline maps are incredibly useful when traveling to a new place, as they can help you find your way around without relying on wifi or mobile data. Even if you’ll have access to wifi or a sim card, offline maps can be good to have on hand just in case.
Additionally, check for any transportation apps specific to your destination, such as rideshare apps like Uber or Grab, or local public transportation apps, and have them downloaded so they are ready as soon as you arrive.
6. Research the Local Culture and Customs
A key aspect of traveling is experiencing other cultures. As a visitor, it's essential to show respect for the values and customs of the local culture, even if they differ from yours. Taking the time to learn basic phrases such as "hello" and "thank you" in the local language can make a big difference.
Additionally, be aware of customs such as taking off your shoes when entering a house or using two hands to exchange money. This shows respect for the local culture and helps you avoid any unintentional faux pas.
Lastly, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the country you are visiting, especially when visiting religious or sacred sites. Doing so can help avoid any potential offense or disrespect.
7. Get an e-Sim
E-sims are making travel even easier now. Finding a local sim card when you arrive in a new country can be a hassle, and ordering tourist sims is usually expensive and requires shipping. E-sims, however, can be quickly set up online so you can be on your way as soon as you arrive.
This means that the SIM is pre-built into the device and all that a user needs to do is scan a QR code and download an eSIM profile for the destination she is traveling to, onto the device. Installation is done instantly and the eSIM can be activated once the user reaches the destination. This way, travelers do not need to worry about connectivity when they land at their destination.
Airalo is a truly global product with our eSIMs used by travelers from all over the world. Our eSIMs are available for over 190 destinations.
It can be tricky to make sure you have everything you need without having to lug around too much baggage. Avoid overpacking by using a packing list and double-checking baggage allowance for all your flights to ensure you stay within the limits. When packing, focus on the essentials and limit the number of "just in case" clothes and items. Choose travel-friendly fabrics that don't wrinkle easily and are lightweight. Make sure everything you pack is appropriate for the climate and modesty standards of your destination. Packing cubes can help not only with organizing your clothes but also compressing them, freeing up more space in your bag. Don't pack any valuables in checked luggage; carry on all electronics and valuable items. Refill any prescriptions or contact lenses to make sure you have enough for the entire trip, and bring some spares of any medications and contacts in case something happens.
Planning ahead is essential for a successful trip. Double-check all travel documents, get travel insurance, notify your bank, make copies of documents, download offline maps and transport apps, research local culture and customs, get an e-SIM, and pack carefully. Doing so will help you avoid any unexpected surprises and make sure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.