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14 Important Things to Do Before a Trip

This post is part of a series called Travel Advice
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Hooray, you’re off to travel the world!  Before you embark on your adventure, it’s important to go through this travel checklist first, so you don’t forget to do any of these travel preparation essentials before you leave:

Visas

Research the visas you may need for the countries you plan on traveling to in advance, before you leave.  For some countries, you can easily get a visa on arrival at the border, but some countries require a visa to be obtained in advance.  Twice, a friend of mine was denied onboard a flight because he didn’t have the necessary visa to enter the country.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Vaccines 

Research and get the necessary vaccines you need for traveling to certain regions.  For example, some countries won’t let you in without a Yellow Fever certificate.

Take Dukoral

If you’re traveling in developing areas, take Dukoral before your trip.  Dukoral is an over-the-counter oral vaccine that coats and protects your stomach from travelers’ diarrhea, E. coli and cholera.  Surprisingly, many travelers haven’t heard of Dukoral, but I absolutely swear by it and I’ve never had any major stomach issues while backpacking places like South and Central America, Mexico, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where I regularly indulge in street meat, salad and fruit (while still using some precautions).  When I traveled to Egypt, the people who had taken Dukoral had no issues, however, the people that did not take it got very sick and the trip was a lot less enjoyable for them.

Buy Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must and it offers a lot more than just medical protection.  It covers you if your flight gets cancelled, a family member becomes ill or passes away and you have to return home, or if something gets stolen, breaks or if you get mugged.  And if you do get seriously ill or injured, it can save you thousands of dollars.  Travel insurance isn’t cheap, but it’s also not that expensive, considering what it can do for you if you get in trouble.  So suck it up and buy the travel insurance.  It’s worth it.

I use and recommend World Nomads for travel insurance.  They’re an affordable and reputable company and you can buy and renew an insurance policy quickly and easily online.  As a Canadian, I find their policies cover a lot more than the other insurance companies in Canada and for a lot less.

Notify Your Bank and Credit Card

Let them know you’ll be traveling, or you may not be able to access your funds.

Deal with Your Bills

Pay your bills before you go and make sure you receive email notifications and have access to your accounts online so you don’t miss a payment.

Deal With Your Mail

Request a hold on your mail at the post office or get a friend or family member to drop by your place to collect it.

Research the Foreign Laws and Customs

It’s important to know what will offend the local people and what could get you thrown in jail.  For example, kissing and holding hands are a no-no in many Middle Eastern countries; and bribing the police in South America is typically customary, except for Chile, where bribing police is a serious offence.  If you’re found with drugs in Thailand, you’ll go to jail for an undeterminable amount of time and in Malaysia and Singapore, the death penalty is enforced.  Unfortunately, in some countries, acts of homosexuality is illegal and if caught, prison is common and in some countries, the death penalty.  And your home country will not be able to help you out of these situations.

Learn the Basic Phrases

Locals don’t expect you to be fluent in their language but knowing how to say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” in their langauge goes a long way.

Email/Scan/Photocopy Your Passport, Visas and Credit Cards

In the unfortunate event that these vitals go missing, it really helps to have backup copies on hand in order to make the process of replacing them run a lot smoother.  Email the scanned copies to yourself and/or keep the photocopies in a safe place.

Download the Maps.me App

Along with downloading the specific countries you’ll be traveling. It’s really useful because you can use it offline, while in airplane mode Get the address of your accommodation and search it in Maps.me and even take a screenshot. Find out the directions to your accommodation before you leave too, especially if you’ll be taking public transit.  You’ll also need the address for customs when entering the country and it’ll make finding your accommodation so much easier, especially when exhausted and jetlagged.

Clean Your Fridge and Take Out Your Garbage

You don’t want to deal with the consequences of not doing this when you arrive home from your travels.

Fully Charge Your Electronics

Download a Currency Converter App

I like to use XE Currency converter and I add all the currencies of the countries I’ll be visiting before I leave, as well as my country’s currency (the Canadian dollar), US dollars and Euros.  If you’ve uploaded the currencies you need, you can use the app offline.  It won’t have the current exchange in real time, but it will be close enough.  This is very helpful when you arrive to a country and have no clue what things cost or how much to take out of an ATM.  Many countries have currency in the thousands, so 10,000 could be worth $1, $10, $100, $1,000 or $10,000+.

Optional Extras:

Look Up the Country’s Cuisine and the Names of Dishes

Even if you speak the language, the names of dishes don’t often translate and it’s nice to know the yummy dishes to look forward to or if a dish contains an allergen.

 

It’s also a good idea to make your own personal travel checklist.

All done!  Now you’re prepared and your trip will run a lot more smoothly 🙂

 

For further travel preparation recommendations, see 11 Important Things to Pack for a Trip 

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