11 Things To Do Before You Leave
Contact your debit and credit card companies. You should notify the bank that you will be abroad at least 1-2 weeks before you leave. You can do this online when you log into any of your financial accounts. Failure to do so means that your debit/credit card will immediately be locked when you try to use it abroad, as the foreign transaction will set off alarms. It is a huge pain to get your debit/credit card unlocked while abroad.
Register your trip with the US embassy.
I have registered my trips abroad for the past 5 years with the US Department of State. It takes 2 minutes and asks for the destination, dates, emergency contact information, and at least one address. This allows the US to notify you ahead of time of any travel warnings in the area you’re traveling to.
Upload your travel documents to Google drive.
I have uploaded copies of my passport, driver’s license, and birth certificate to Google drive, along with copies of my itinerary. This allows me to easily access proof of my citizenship if I lose my passport - all I need is wifi.
Leave an itinerary with family members.
My itineraries are less detailed than ever before, but it’s important to leave the following info with a parent: flight information, hostel information (if booked ahead of time), and a general idea of where you will be on certain days. Every hostel has wifi nowadays, so it takes one minute to update a family member on what city you’re in and which hostel.
Leave your valuables at home.
I leave all of my jewelry at home - class ring, french cross necklace, my favorite earrings. If I do take jewelry, it’s cheap earrings from Forever 21 or an ankle bracelet. You don’t want to risk having those items being stolen or drawing attention to yourself with flashy jewelry.
Clean your room/apartment/house.
This is just a personal tip, but I always take the time to clean and organize my place before I leave for a trip. I unplug everything, clean out the fridge, and do all the dishes. After a long trip abroad, I don’t want to feel anxious over a messy apartment or loads of laundry to do. I just want to climb into a warm bed with clean sheets. Taking care of this before I leave means I'm looking forward to coming home by the time I step off the flight.
Turn on Find My iPhone.
If your iPhone/Smartphone is stolen while abroad, you will never see it again. Before I go abroad, I delete personal items off of my iPhone, make sure the passcode is on, and set-up Find My iPhone. Find My iPhone ensures that I can wipe the iPhone remotely. Never hesitate to wipe the phone if it’s been stolen.
Purchase travel insurance.
This is the first time I have purchased travel insurance for a trip abroad. In the past, I never paid much attention to travel insurance and what it meant. But then I called my health insurance and learned that I was only covered abroad in the case of "loss of life or loss of limb." So basically I would have to be on my death bed in an utterly foreign country, pay all my fees in cash, make it back to the US (alive), and then file my insurance claim. So I opted to buy separate travel insurance for peace of mind so that I am covered in all instances. I am an adrenaline junkie and will take up any experience while travelling - canyon jumping, skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping. I realized that if something happened to me abroad, I was pretty much SOL. So purchasing travel insurance for $132 -- which covers emergency medical treatment, flight cancellations, lost luggage, and emergency evacuation -- seemed worth it to me for a 21 day trip to Thailand at $6/day. Hopefully I don’t need it.
Make one last trip to Wal-Mart.
I will pack, re-pack, and pack again, only to find that I am still missing a handful of items. I always make one last run to Wal-Mart to pick up padlocks, sunscreen, make up removal wipes, travel containers, etc.
Double check vaccinations.
I totally blanked to do this before Thailand, but luckily Thailand does not require any vaccinations before coming into the country. If you're up to date with any booster shots, you should be fine, but if you plan on doing any jungle treks or are traveling to a location with a high risk of malaria, you need to take some extra steps. Check out the CDC to get detailed info about any vaccinations that might be recommended.
THEN PACK HALF THE CLOTHES & TWICE THE MONEY.
Amen. Get together your travel packing list. Pack your clothes, shoes, and toiletries, eliminating as necessary. Lay everything out. Try to fit it in your backpack or suitcase. Then take it all out and remove half the t-shirts, shorts, socks, dresses, etc. I know you think you need all of it, I totally understand. But you really don't. No one will care if you wear the same shirt two days in a row. You can do laundry abroad by dropping your clothes off at a hotel/laundry service or doing it by hand in the bathroom sink. You will go shopping & pick up more clothes along the way. You will not miss that extra pair of shorts you decided not to pack, and if you do, I promise you can buy a pair abroad. I repacked twice for Thailand, removing more items each time before. Then I moved a little bit more money over to my travel checking account. Pack half the clothes & twice the money.