The One about the Top 10 Things One Should Do Weeks Before Traveling Overseas

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Before traveling overseas, assuming your passport, tickets, luggage, hotel and important details have been taken care of.

But there are a few things one should make sure they take care of before traveling.

Here are my Top 10 Things One Should Do Weeks Before Traveling Overseas.


1.  GET VACCINES, FLU SHOT and MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE RULES ON MEDICATIONS OVERSEAS

Before traveling, I try to get a flu shot once a year and it’s important to know that areas start in September or October.  So, definitely plan to get yours when they are released because locations can run out of them.

But for more information on vaccines for the country you are visiting, definitely check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, by clicking here.

Also, it’s important to remember that medications you may take in the U.S., may be illegal in another country.

Using Japan as an example, some inhalers and allergy medicines that are legal in the U.S. are illegal there.

It’s important to visit the US Embassy website and look at the country you are visiting for more information on what medications are legal and illegal overseas.

2.  Make a photocopy of your Passport

What happens if you lose your bag with your passport while overseas?  Or if it gets stolen?  Spare the hassle by making sure a color scan or photocopy of your passport is kept as proof, but also have another copy kept back home with a loved one, just in case.

3.  Contact your Bank and Credit Card Service

If you have a credit card or bank card that you plan to use overseas, contact your credit card company and bank.  Otherwise, you can have your account locked.

For some banks and for protection of bank fraud, you may receive a call at home to verify purchases made in another country.  So, let your bank or credit card company know you are traveling.

Also, I recommend the following months in advance, find out if your credit card or bank card charges international/foreign transaction fees.  The majority of them do, so I recommend having a card like the Charles Schwab High Yield Checking Account.  It’s free, no monthly fee and no international fee.

4.  Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans and more.

5. Know Your Checked-Baggage, Carry On Baggage and Personal Items Rules for Your Airline

Many people traveling abroad are not aware about the fees that are involved if you go over the weight limit for your checked in luggage or if you go over the size limit of your luggage.  Unfortunately, airlines rake in a lot of money through these fees and charge anywhere from a hundred to hundreds for going over the limit.

Remember that the dimensions you see on the tag for your luggage is for the luggage portion.  Airlines also include the wheels and handle and the puffiness of an extended bag, so always add a +3 or +4 inches to make sure it does not go over the 62″ linear inch (add the height, width and length).

Also, there is a misnomer that you can bring two checked-in baggage at 50 pounds apiece.  From my experience, it’s 25 pounds per luggage and both must equal 50 pounds for its limit.

You need to also make sure if your airlines charges for the second bag.  You may find that Paneastern flights offer a second luggage for free, while Panatlantic flights charge for the second checked-in baggage.

Also, remember to look for the size limits for carryon and personal items.  Just don’t think that because it’s over an inch, that the airline company won’t care.  Follow the rules and you should be fine.

Otherwise, if you have money to blow on fees, then it’s all good.  Just remember that the fees are for one-way, if you have round-trip tickets, you’ll have to pay that fee again.

So, do your research beforehand, so you can purchase your luggage before your trip.

6.  Have a Checklist

Develop your checklist of things to take with you before you leave and so nothing is forgotten once you leave your front door.

For my first trip abroad, I remember having everything ready for my trip.  Traveled 3.5 hours to San Francisco by car to stay with relatives before going to SFO.  And guess what I left right in the kitchen area… my passport.

So, definitely make sure you create a checklist beforehand and know that essentials such as your passport, ID, credit/debit card, money, etc. are with you.

And do the same thing when you leave and make sure that no cell phones, small tablets, charging cables or anything important were left in the drawers, under the blankets or under the bed.

7.  Research the Area You Will be Staying and Visiting with Google Maps

You will discover that Google Maps is very important while traveling.

If you haven’t done it already, create a gmail account to establish your account, visit Google Maps and start visiting areas you are going to visit, clicking the star to save areas of importance and so, when you travel, you can easily refer to those locations.

Especially if you are going to a country and you find out that you need medicine at night and need to find a nearby pharmacy or you need dry cleaning or a laundromat, it’s good to research these in advance.

8.  Learn Key Phrases and Google Translate is Your Next Best Friend

You are in another country where English is not spoken. It’s important to learn important key words.  You can purchase a Fodor’s booklet or an app that can give you keywords but it’s always good to learn the language for a country that you are visiting.

But let’s say that you didn’t study the language and you just wanted to wing it.  So, how will you communicate?

If you have access via smartphone or tablet, download the Google Translate app and you can type the word and get a translation immediately.

See a text you don’t understand, take a photo with the Google Translate app and it will translate the text for you.

Here is an example.   I was with a friend in Tokyo and he needed ear plugs because his ears were sensitive to noise and he left them at the hotel.  While we were at a convenience store,  how would you communicate that?  He tried using hand and facial expressions and similar to a game of pictionary, you either get it or you don’t.  In this case, while at the convenience store, no one understood what he needed.  I pulled out Google Translate and in seconds, got the word and solved the issue.

9.  Print Out Your Itinerary

You may not think it’s necessary but if you get in trouble or happen to be in a situation, from airline security to police, they may want to know where you are going and will want to see an itinerary.

I was in Taiwan for a brief layover as my original flight was grounded in Chicago and had to get to Tokyo.  While I was there for 12 hours, airport security questioned why I was leaving immediately and not staying in Taiwan that long.  Needless to say, they were suspicious.

I have seen the same thing happen to friends traveling overseas to the US and they happen to be a very huge popstar in Japan.  But she was traveling to the US for vacation and the airport security detained her because they didn’t believe she was vacationing and they thought she was in the US for a concert and she needed a working VISA.

I always plan out my vacation and print out an itinerary for the day.

10.  HEALTH AND TRAVEL INSURANCE

We always hope that we have awesome vacations with no one getting sick or hurt.

But sometimes, things happen.

It’s important to have health and travel insurance.  But it’s important to find out if you are covered internationally for health coverage and there are short-term policies available for those who travel.

Also, if you have renter’s insurance, some companies allow for coverage of lost items.  Of course, it’s important to have photos of electronics and gear that you are traveling with (with serial numbers if possible) and kept in a safe place, just in case anything gets stolen.

OVERALL!!!!

Always err in the side of caution and most importantly, always be prepared!  Hope these tips help you out for your travel! Good luck!


BONUS!!!

AND HERE ARE ADDITIONAL THINGS, NOT NECESSARILY MUST DO… BUT YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER IT!

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I.  CHECK THE ONE MONTH ACCUWEATHER, TO SEE HOW WEATHER WILL BE

Yes, I’m serious about this.  A month before, one of the locations said it would be snowing and wet, another location showed high wind advisory.  I told other people who were traveling with me to prepare for this.

And on the days that it said it would snow, it was dark, overcast, there was snow.  And on the windy day, yes…it was very windy.  So, definitely follow Accuweather’s one month forecast weeks before your trip.  It may not be 100% accurate a month before, but it’s darn close!

II.  BAND-AIDS, ACE BANDAGE, ICE PACK, EYE SLEEP MASK, EAR PLUGS, THICK SOCKS, VERY GOOD SHOES FOR WALKING

One thing that I’ve learned is that things happen.  And little things as papercuts, sprained ankle, headaches do happen. One thing that I know for me which is constant are blisters.  For long distance travelers, while having good shoes help, sometimes blisters are unavoidable and they could hinder your trip.  If I’m traveling, I bring a box of band-aids.  These are important in my opinion.  I also look for thick, breathable socks.  And at times, I wear two socks if I have a blister (I actually had blistering pretty bad and had to wear three socks at one point).

For those who have trouble sleeping, having an eye sleep mask to sleep better and helps keep the room dark.  Ear plugs to eliminate noise if you are a light sleeper…definitely prepare in advance.

III.  PICK THE RIGHT CLOTHES FOR WHEN YOU ARE FLYING…

You know that in most American metropolitan cities, they want you to take off your shoes, take off your belt, if you have anything steel, take it off and put it through the metal detector.  Save your self the trouble, wear comfortable sneakers that you can put on and off and avoid boots.

I remember flying in and I had my steel-tip boots, taking them on and off, what a drag.    Then I wore a lot of metal…metal bracelets, metal on my belt in addition to those steel-tipped boots..  I learned a lesson that day!

IV.  IF THINGS YOU HAVE IN YOUR CARRY ON THAT HAVE RF/MAGNETIC STICKERS/TAGS/STRIPS, REMOVE THEM. 

When I was in Tokyo, I was unable to get into a few stores as the detection alarms near the gate kept activating over and over again.  It appears that memory cards I purchased on Amazon that were still in the package, had the magnetic sticker still attached.  And that kept setting off alarms.  Discarded those and no more problems.

Under issue I had one time I was traveling is I purchased a leather bag and again, there was a hidden magnetic tag.  I was surprised, as I dumped my bag contents trying to find what was setting off the alarm, and hidden inside one of the pockets, was a magnetic tag.