The secrets of a successful holiday are organization and preparation, right? An early and well-thought-out plan means a hassle-free travel. For a start, have a checklist of what to do and what to bring when you’re expected for a long, long haul.
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Aside from packing your clothing and bringing your DSLR’s and GoPro’s, there are other important things that you should not forget to make your travel smooth, convenient and worry-free.
1) Organize your finances
While getting your finances in order is not a glamorous or fun thing to do, it is otherwise an essential part of your pre-travel prep! Make sure that you have settled whatever debts you have (when you can) and set up an automatic payment for bills. Opt for travel-friendly debit and credit cards as they will be of big help to you particularly when it comes to foreign exchange fees (it would also be a big help if you keep track of the fluctuating exchange rates).
Keep in mind before you travel to a foreign land: make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. Another — soon as you land make sure to always have local cash — not every place accepts credit cards, especially in transportation or when you’re visiting local markets.
Don’t forget your travel insurance – it will be a big life-saver to you as it covers anything from medical expenses to theft of your important belongings to trip cancellations. If you have a travel insurance policy, it is better to review it first before hitting the road or flying out of the country. It is important to know what your travel insurance exactly covers so that you will decide which ones you really need.
2) Update your important documents
It is also important to get your necessary documents updated and ready, including your passport, visa, life/travel/health insurance, vaccination certificates (check out the list of countries that require them) and student ID’s (if you’re still studying, of course).
If you are of a certain age, make sure that you have updated your wills and beneficiary designations. You should also consider turning over your important financial and legal matters to someone you trust, especially if you’re going to a long and epic holiday.
3) Get your phone ready for international travel
When you’re planning to be out of the country for long and want to take your phone with you, then you should consider setting it up for international roaming. Carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile offer free international roaming but there are data limits unless you pay more. A&T and and Verizon, on the other hand, offer international “day passes,” which allow you to enjoy unlimited talk times, text messaging and data for a low daily fee.
In many other countries (especially in Southeast Asia), phone services are incredibly cheap. You may want to take advantage of their affordable rates by purchasing a local SIM card as you arrive (the SIM cards themselves are very much cheap, too). For only $10 to $20, you can enjoy a hefty amount of texts, calls and mobile data.
You are most likely to bring your phone when you’re abroad, but only for taking pictures and for Wi-Fi. But if you still want to call your family and friends back home, don’t worry! There are many hotels and other lodgings that loan smartphones – complete with calls, text messaging and mobile data services included. Look for hotels that offer this type of service.
4) Pack light
Traveling overseas is bound to be an exhausting ordeal, so it is advisable to pack light as possible to somehow lessen the burden. Just bring your essentials and a week’s worth of clothes. This means you have to do the laundry often. Make sure that the clothes you wear should be appropriate for the climate of your destination country.
As for the essentials, you should only bring the following:
– Certain toiletries (comb, deodorant, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and toothbrush; do not bring shampoos and soaps as you can buy them from a local store, or the hotel you’ll be staying will provide them to you)
– Important and updated documents (as mentioned above)
– Miscellaneous items (such as an eco-friendly water tumbler and some reusable shopping bags for souvenirs)
4) Get yourself healthy
You’re going for the long haul, that’s why you should not forget about your health. Being sick is no fun especially on a holiday. Visit your doctor and your dentist before embarking on the long journey. When traveling to a foreign country, it’s important to do your own research about the risks, such as contagious diseases, sanitary conditions or poisonous animals (if you’re going to do a nature trip).
Make sure that all of your vaccines are up-to-date – knowing which types of vaccines will protect you from certain diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, and yellow fever. Especially if you’re going on a trip to Asia, South America or Africa, this should be a consideration not to be missed.
Long travels can be stressful, so boost your immune system by munching on healthy food and by taking supplements. It doesn’t hurt if you also bring your prescriptions with you.
5) Prepare yourselves mentally and emotionally
Aside from the material and financial part of the preparation, it’s also important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally as you will be embarking on an extensive holiday abroad. Yes, there are tremendous support from your family and friends, but sometimes you cannot help having some doubt towards yourself on how are you going to handle the realities of traveling once they arise. Culture shock is only one of the things that you are likely to encounter once you arrive to your destination.
So you may want to ask yourself first: how will travel change your life? For better or for worse? Will you be returning to your home country or will you find yourself staying there for longer than you expect? That’s why it’s always better to anticipate such situations by being mentally and emotionally prepared.