Monday, 31 March 2014

7 Things You Already Know You Need To Do Before Traveling the World

You're going to travel the world -- or maybe you're going to move abroad. You've made the decision to pick up and go... but now what?! There are a lot of things to do before you leave to ensure your nomadic success. The common sense stuff is usually what we don't think about, or just ignore. Here are 7 things you already know you need to do before taking off to travel the world:

1. Get travel insurance. DO IT! Chances are your current insurance will not cover international travel, or at least, nothing more than major medical incidents. Find a travel insurance policy that covers emergency evacuation, at least $100,000 of medical expenses, trip cancellation coverage, and lost or stolen personal effects and baggage. Let's hope you don't have to use it, but it's better to have it when your nice expensive camera falls into the Seine or your motorbike takes a spill in Thailand.

2. Get rid of stuff. You're asking, what if I need it when I get back? You won't. And if you do, buy another one. Whatever it is, chances are your living without it for several months will make you forget you even owned it in the first place. Do you want to come back after months of living out of a backpack to boxes and boxes of trinkets you thought you never could live without? Believe me, you'll be asking yourself "why did I keep this?"

3. Speaking of stuff, pack light. Whether you're taking a suitcase (or two) or a backpack, you won't need as much as you think. You won't wear most of what you bring -- you won't and you know it. And if you didn't pack something you should have, find a place in the country you're visiting that sells it cheap. Charity shops come in handy for that rain jacket or pair of shorts, because you won't spend a lot of money, so you can easily get rid or it -- or donate it back to the store.

4. Get a credit card -- especially one with no foreign transaction fees. This will save you loads of money over time. There are several out there, but if you can get one that earns you points while you're at it, go for it. Just be sure to stay on top of the bills and try not to carry a balance.

5. Suspend your phone plan. Early termination fees are the pits, and international plans are way too expensive. Call your cell provider and see if you can put your phone plan on hold. If you're a customer in good standing, you'll most likely be able to suspend your account for up to six months for a low monthly fee. If you have an unlocked smartphone, save your local SIM and get a new SIM card for your country of choice. Usually European countries have monthly Top Up plans that are flexible and easy to understand.

6. Make copies of all your travel documents. And I mean paper copies. This includes copies of your passport, credit cards, license, and travel documents. Many airports in Asia won't let you into the airport unless you have your flight itinerary with your flight information and name printed on it. Reduce the stress and just have them on you. Leaving your bag or wallet in the pub can be stress free when you have copies of your credit cards and passports to get it all sorted out quickly.

7. Figure out your prescriptions before you leave. A visit to your doctor and a call or two to your local pharmacy can end up saving you loads of time and money. If you have a prescription that you take every day, ask your doctor to make out a prescription for the amount of time you'll be gone. Whether it's a 30-day supply or a 180-day supply, your doc can write that prescription. One issue is that your insurance (your normal insurance, not your travel insurance) may not cover that amount. A call to your pharmacy will get you the cost of your prescription if you pay in cash and buy in bulk. If you aren't able to get your prescription, have your doctor provide a letter and ideally copies of your latest test results that you'll carry on you for when you do have to see an international doctor or pharmacy.

These 7 Must Dos only scratch the surface of your to-do list, but they'll save you some moments of insanity as your departure date looms nearer and provide you peace of mind for when you're away.
Rachel Vander Pol is a freelance wanderer who writes to capture her experiences. She loves food, fashion, and frolicking, although not necessarily in that order. Her work can be found at and The world is your oyster. Now go find it.

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