When preparing for your trip, create a to-do list so you don't forget anything.
This is what I recommend:
1. Do you have your passport and/or visa?
Always have back up ID (driver’s license or any other GOVERNMENT ISSUED ID with you when traveling). Make sure your passport is valid six months from the day your trip ends. Make a copy of your passport (and other important documents) and give a copy to someone you trust at home.
2. When applying for a visa, always send your documents certified mail.
3. If vaccinations are not required for travel, you should still consult your physician...you never know! To see what vaccinations are required for entry, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. Do your research.
Don't rely on others to point you in the right direction. Know where you are staying in relation to public transportation and other attractions. Always have a map and study it.
5. Research your transportation options.
How will you get from the airport to the hotel and vice versa? Does your hotel provide a shuttle (sometimes complimentary)? If not, book a shuttle in advance. If taking a taxi, always be safe and discuss the fee before getting in. Look for taxis with similarities, meters, door handles, and a driver with a badge. Always know where your destination is and who to call in an emergency.
6. Contact your bank and tell them you are traveling.
If not, they will assume your card is stolen and the bank will temporarily close your account. When leaving the country, check to see what foreign fees your bank charges. Withdrawing cash from an ATM and paying bank charges can sometimes be more cost effective than paying currency exchange rates at a Currency Exchange store. Keep in mind that not all ATMs around the world accept debit cards from the US (such as Japan).
7. If your cell phone cannot be used internationally, contact your wireless provider for a global phone and its rates. Having a cell phone for emergencies is important. Familiarize yourself with the country codes.
8. Speaking of electronics, reconsider bringing yours. Do you really need a phone, tablet, and a laptop?
9. Consider any additional fees your airline charges.
Make sure your carry-on luggage meets the weight and size requirements. Use identifiable luggage tags on all bags (even carry-on luggage).
10. Make all special requests at the time of booking.
Reserve your airplane seat immediately. Never wait until the day of. Remember that requests are only requests and not guarantees (for example, a nonsmoking room, king size bed ect).
11. And remember that airline security nowadays is much tighter than it used to be. When traveling internationally, be at the airport 3 hours in advance. I make sure my carry-on bag is easy to inspect and I always have my ticket and passport in my hand.
Once it’s time to pack, I find that these few items are always useful to have:
1. Pack light! Only bring what you absolutely need.
2. Always bring TSA approved toiletries. Never assume your hotel will provide them.
3. A lot of countries have a short supply of toilet paper. Always carry a pack of tissues with you.
4. It may be difficult to find medicine where you are going. Bring along headache medicine, Imodium, feminine products and whatever else you may need.
5. A money belt is important, but don’t make it obvious. Keep some cash in your pocket.
6. I always like to pack rain gear. A miniature umbrella or poncho is easy to carry in a purse. Lots of extra socks, a sweatshirt, and plastic bags for wet clothes can come in handy.
7. Don’t over pack with lots of clothes. Leave room for souvenirs. Choose basic pieces that can be layered. Always bring a good pair of walking shoes and if necessary, rain boots. Keep it simple.
8. Leave your valuables at home. I never travel with my engagement ring or anything else I would be devastated if I lost.
9. Provide your emergency contacts with your travel information. Flight number, hotel address and so on.
10. And lastly, never leave home without a camera and an extra memory card (adaptor if you need one). Take lots of pictures!
Travel tip shared by TravelwithKatharine