The day you fly out is often hectic, and if you are like me you are running around like a mad man trying to remember all those last minute details before you boarding your flight. To make things easier for you, and me, I comprised this list to help you remember all the little things you should do before boarding an international flight.
1. Copies of Your Documents
One of the most valuable things you need to do before any big trip is to make copies of all your important documents and credit cards (front and back) and send them to your email. In the horrible situation that they are lost or stolen, these backups will reduce the number of headaches you will have trying to replace them.
For extra security, and if you are like me and worry about your email getting hacked, scan all your copies, move them to a word document, and password protect it before you email them. This ensures that if your email is hacked you still are protected.
Also remember to email yourself a list of the telephone numbers of your credit card companies. Most of the companies have collect call international numbers on the back of your cards. Having these numbers in your inbox will help you get a hold of them immediately if problems arise, plus most of the companies even pick up the bill for the call.
For added safety and peace of mind, you can also leave copies with your family or a close friend.
2 : Call Your Credit Card Company and Bank
I’ve seen this happen a few times; someone flies into a foreign country without telling their credit card company or bank. Everything goes smoothly as they begin their journey and use their credit or debit card a few times. However, because they failed to call and let the credit card companies know they were leaving the country, the credit card companies thought the charges were fraudulent and shut off the card.
Of course, in this situation, you can be left stranded with little to no cash, and no way of getting more. Anxiety levels rise quickly and precious time and energy is spent on the telephone with the companies while fixing the problem. Why not save the hassle and take a few minutes before you leave the country to inform your credit card companies where you are traveling.
Letting you Credit Card Company know your leaving isn’t required. I’ve seen some people never inform their companies they were traveling, and their cards worked just fine, but it is always better to make sure.
How it works
When you call the CC companies, they will ask you what countries you are planning on visiting and the day you start traveling. Most companies only put the note of file in for three months so if you are traveling for an extended period of time, you should call every three months and let them know again.
3: Keep Everything Up To Date
This is something I’m guilty of Not always doing but I am getting better at it. A couple days before I left, I realized that one of my cards and my driver’s license was going to expire while I was traveling. That wouldn’t work since I’m embarking on a kickass road trip this summer. I put off updating them until the last minute which forced me to rush to get it done when I already had a billion things to do. In reality, this is something you can and should do months before you leave. Check everything from your passport to your bank cards to your international student ID’s. Keep this in mind, if you think the item is important enough to take it with you, make sure that it is up to date and will remain that way throughout your travels.
4: Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is definitely something to get squared away before hopping into your car and driving to the airport. If you currently are a student, get an ISIC that is valid for a year. This provides you with a minor insurance plan. While this isn’t the best insurance plan, having it is better than not having any insurance at all. Many people don’t realize that they don’t have to be in school for the card to stay valid; you just need to be a student when you apply for the card. It is also a debit card but the perks are limited. When possible, I recommend skipping the ISIC and buying better travel insurance.
5. Link Your Bank Accounts
If you are transferring money in between accounts frequently, make sure you have them all connected before leaving. This will save you both time and headaches while you are on the road. When I am traveling I use three separate accounts that I shuffle money between. This allows my money to work for me. Believe me; it is frustrating to try to connect all your accounts on the road.
6: Tickets and Check In.
I always double check my tickets online in the morning before leaving for the airport to make sure that there hasn’t been any major changes. This rarely happens, but it DOES happen, and you don’t want to miss your flight because they bumped up the time. Also it is wise to check-in online if applicable. This will save you time, and in some cases, a lot of it; plus and it is one less thing to worry about.
7: Lodging and Connecting flight Info
Even if you are the most adventurous backpacker to ever walk the face of the earth, book your first night accommodation. It is important to have your first night booked and the address written down.
Customs wants to know where you are staying and trust me, it sucks to wait in line for two hours only to be kicked to the back of the line for a couple more hours because you had to go search and book your accommodations. If you have a one way flight, you also want a print out of your next flight. A lot of customs officers want to see proof that you are leaving when you are supposed to. Don’t worry if you don’t have a connecting flight booked, just be prepared for more questions?
8: Check your Luggage
This is common sense but still needs to be said. If you are going on a long trip, double check to make sure you have everything before heading out the door. Your most important documents are the ones you made copies of. Triple check that you have all of these in order, easy to retrieve, and yet protected. I suggest a money belt. Yes, it looks like an inverted fanny pack, but it keeps your ID passport, money, and bank cards well organized. I hardly wear mine; I just use it for organization.
9: Make Sure You Have Your Passport On You
Picture this: you go to the airport for an international flight. You checks in, grab your papers, then absentmindedly you put your passport in the bag you are checking. You collect belongings, find your bearings and proceed through the security line. And then it happens. You discover you have no passport. Oops! This is a huge hassle and one you want to avoid. Again, double check that you have everything you need before handing over your baggage.
10: An Open Mind
Although it isn’t something tangible, this is hands down the biggest thing you want to check before heading to the airport. In fact, when anyone asks me what is the key element to being a good traveler, I always answer, “An open mind”. Don’t begin you journey without it.
Remember, we go to different countries and cultures because they ARE different! Embrace that! I’ve meet a couple of people that have said the whole time, “that’s not how we do it back home”. Those people should have stayed home. Traveling isn’t a compare and contrast experience; it’s a learning experience. Visiting places with an open mind will completely change your trip and you.
What about you? What are some things you always check before flying internationally?