The following list is compiled of information I received from family, friends, travel websites and personal blogs prior to leaving on my trip. All the information I obtained was super-helpful and made me feel more comfortable before my departure.
- Make sure your passport is current. Most countries will not let you enter if your passport will expire within the next 6 months. Be smart and renew in plenty of time before you depart on your grand adventure.
- Get a chip and pin card. Most credit card companies are now transitioning to this card anyway. I was advised to get this type of card as no one takes the magnetic strip kind. It depends on where you go. Some places still do in fact take the old card but the chip and pin is becoming the new normal. Also, check what the foreign transaction fee is for using your card. I actually went ahead and got a new card for the trip. It has no foreign transaction fee and is a travel rewards card. Here is an article I found on Nerd Wallet to help inform you of your best options.
- Bring your debit card. It's always wise to have at least two cards with you in case one doesn't work or is lost or stolen. Only use your debit card for withdrawing cash at the ATM. Cash was actually my preferred way to pay for things abroad. Ticket machines at the airport or train station usually only take cards but eating out and and other small purchases were much easier using the local currency. *** Always remember to communicate to your bank and credit card company that you will be out of the country. Let them know the length of time you will be away and the country/countries you will be visiting.
- Make copies of important documents. It's smart to make two copies of: your passport, health insurance, credit and debit cards. Take one set with you (keep it in a separate place from where you will keep your cards and cash in case of theft) and leave the other at home with someone. Also make sure you have the 1-800 number for your credit cards if anything were to happen to them.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary at home with someone. If you are like me then you will have a typed out itinerary two months before you go. (I was really, really excited about this trip!) It's helpful to have this information written down in the event that anything were to happen to you. Important information: Airlines and flight numbers, where you will be staying and for how long, with the address and a phone number if possible.
- Don't forget to pay your bills and rent. With the excitement of planning your trip this will be the last thing on your mind. It definitely was on mine and I'm so thankful I read this tip before leaving. If you make payments online you can schedule to have them be paid while you are away. As for rent and other utilities, have your payments ready to be sent and have someone at home mail them for you.
- Pack light. I was told by numerous people to do this. I'm normally an over-packer so what I thought was "packing light" was still over-packing by a long shot. Check back for my Packing Essentials post as I will go into more detail and include items not to be forgotten.