What you need to know before you go!
So you’re going on a trip? Yay! Travelling is the most rewarding experience. There is nothing like the feeling of stepping off an airplane into a foreign country, heart pumping with adrenaline, curious and ready to seek out the excitement waiting for you around every unfamiliar corner. You’re ready to take on the world.
Then you snap out of your daydream.
You’re still in the airport at home, your passport is in your desk at your Mom’s house, the plug adapter is in the backseat of your brother’s car, and you don’t know the address of the hostel you’re meant to be checking in to at 1:30am.. or if the reception will even remember to stay open for you.
Yikes! Not the best planner? Or maybe you’re just new to the travel lifestyle? This 2-part series will cover the questions you need ask yourself as you plan, pack, and depart on that trip of a lifetime.
Below are all the things you need to do, check, and confirm before you’ve even left your house.
Do you need a visa? Check the visa restrictions for entry into the country prior to booking your ticket. Some visas take a few weeks, others take a few months. Federal Government websites will have this information.
Do you need an entry permit of any kind? In 2009 the US rolled out the ESTA Travel Authorization which needs to be applied for online prior to entry into the country. A few years later Canada introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for visa-exempt foreign nationals. You need these even if you’re travelling through on your way elsewhere. Check before you travel!
Have you put a travel note on your credit cards? This should be high on your list. Every bank has this option now, and you can usually do it in three clicks online. Don’t forget this one! The amount of friends I’ve travelled with that have had their card blocked right as they landed is astounding. Good to know the banks are looking out for your security, but crap when it’s actually you trying to use your card. Don’t force yourself to limit spending because you’re asking your travel buddy for money. Get this sorted asap!
What’s the currency and when will you get it? It’s not all Euros in Europe! There are actually nine member countries who still do their own thing cash-wise. Also, make sure to review your debit and credit card terms & conditions, particularly around using your cards abroad. Does it make more sense to pre-purchase a large sum of currency? Or withdraw from a local bank machine on arrival and pay the international bank fee one time?
If they ask you, do you know the address of where you’re staying? Some countries ask you to fill out landing cards when you arrive. These are reviewed by customs officers who often ask you a few questions. I always blank for a second, even when the question is “what’s your first name.” They will often ask your reason for visiting and how long you plan on staying. Be prepared with your hotel, Airbnb or hostel address to hand.
Do you know how to get to where you’re staying if you can’t get a phone signal? It’s great when you get somewhere, pop your address into Google maps, and follow the blue dot to your temporary home. What happens when your special international phone package doesn’t work right away? Or your battery died listening to tunes on the plane? Check a couple maps before you go, pick out a few landmarks that will help you get your bearings, and look at the Google Street View of your street and accommodation. Nothing tells a taxi driver to stay on course (and not rip you off) like being able to tell him exactly where you’re going.
Have you packed the essentials in case you don’t feel well? Painkillers, plasters, tweezers.. don’t underestimate the need for basic first aid essentials. I think I use more band-aids when I travel than when I’m at home.
What do you check before leaving on a trip? Let us know in the comments below!
Coming Soon: The Essential Pre-Travel Checklist – Part 2. This covers everything that you’ll need to be aware of once you’ve left the house.
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