We are planning our first overseas trip, so I thought in making our preparation I would try and help you in planning an overseas trip (either for the first time or subsequent visits).
First I will give a checklist of the major things to do; then I will elaborate on several things:
- Reservations (air, hotels, car, trains, tours)
- Documents (tickets, passports, visas, confirmations)
- Money issues (cash, credit cards, checks, ATMs)
- Local interest (guidebooks, tourist info, tours, sightseeing)
- Medical (prescription medicine, OTC meds, vitamins)
- Safety concerns (warnings, immunizations)
- Insurance (medical, travel cancellation)
- Packing concerns-(clothing, raincoats, umbrellas, shoes, personal items, cell phones, iPad, etc.)
Things to Consider When Planning an Overseas Trip
1)Have a valid U.S. Passport-This takes about 5-6 weeks to get and it entails filling out forms that you take to a U.S. Post Office. It must be accompanied by a valid driver’s license and a passport photo. The forms must be filled out in black ink and you must wait to sign them at the post office. To get the passport in 2-3 weeks, the passport can be expedited for an additional fee of $60/person.
2)Make photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency or in case they are lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a relative or friend at home. Carry the other copy with you stored separately from the originals. Documents to make copies of are: passport I.D. page, foreign visa (if this applies), hotel confirmation, itinerary, airline tickets, driver’s license, credit cards brought on the trip, traveler’s check serial numbers.
3)Check and understand the exchange rate before you leave the country.
4)Before you leave the country, notify your credit card company and bank that you are going overseas. Tell the credit card company where you will be and when you will be overseas, so they don’t freeze your account. They sometimes freeze accounts if they don’t know you are overseas, assuming there is fraud involved.
5)Avoid carrying cash and consider using traveler’s checks or credit cards instead (make sure the credit cards don’t have foreign transaction fees before leaving.)
6)Depending on destination, get up-to-date vaccinations for the country you are visiting.
7)Check to see if your health insurance will cover medical expenses overseas and if so, which expenses are covered.
8)If taking prescriptions, pack enough with you to account for travel delays. Always carry them in your carry-on bags so they won’t get lost in case your bags are lost.
9)Give contact info and itinerary to a family member or a friend. This can be helpful in case of any emergency.
10)Pack an iPad and keep in touch with family via e-mail or Facebook.
11)If you are concerned with photo and computer backup while on the road there is a company called Dropbox that can back up your photos and computer files on the road. This is good in case you lose your camera or computer.
12)Check the weather so you know the type of clothing to pack.
13)Check out the rates for your cell phone if planning to make calls overseas. Research other options if your cell phone carrier’s rates are too expensive.
14)Do the proper research on how to best use your time overseas. You may want to take an organized tour to make good use of your time.
15)Check transportation options overseas. Many overseas locations have excellent mass-transit options. If you do decide to drive, research the driving rules, if the country will honor your U.S. license, how hard it is to drive in your desired location, etc.
16)Depending on the country you are traveling to, research the customs to make sure you aren’t offensive unintentionally.
17)Check the tips for safe travel posted on the countries website which will give warnings about pickpockets and crime. (This obviously varies widely from country to country and even city to city).
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a start to help you plan a safe, happy trip overseas.