As I prepare for my trip to Hong Kong and China next week, I keep coming up with tasks I have to take care of before I leave. Long trips and international travel are exciting times ahead. But before you slip into full-on vacation mode, here are a few key things you need to do before jet-setting.
1. Pay your bills.
Bills are the last thing on my mind when I am busy packing outfits and planning activities for my trip. Remember to pay in advance any credit cards, student loans, rent, and any other bills that will come due while you are away. Or you can set up autopay and schedule your payments for the bills that offer that option. You will be on a vacation high when you get home. Nothing kills a vacation buzz like late fees, interest charges, and a house with no electricity.
2. Make arrangements for your mail and packages.
You do not want your mailbox getting stuffed to the brim while you are out of town. Not only could this damage your mailbox, but burglars will see your house as an easy target. The USPS offers a Hold Mail Service and will deliver all mail to you when you return. If you have any packages scheduled to be delivered while you are vacationing, make sure you ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to collect them for you.
3. Get your visas.
Make sure your passport is still valid and get the required visas for the countries you will be visiting. Speaking of passports, my best friend was at the airport checking in for her flight to Germany one morning. Guess what? Her passport was expired! Moral of the story, friends. Check the expiration year and do not assume you have plenty of time.
4. Make arrangements for your cell phone.
Charges for international calls, messaging, and data usage are extremely expensive. Call your cellular provider to ask about the best international plan for your phone. A cheaper alternative is to unlock your phone and buy a sim card from the country you are visiting. You will be able to make local calls within that country for a fraction of the cost of an international roaming plan. With this option you will be using a local phone number, instead of your personal phone number. Be sure to let your friends and family back home know to call you at your temporary number. You can still connect to Wi-Fi when you come across it for email-checking, Facebook-posting, and video-chatting.
5. Get Viber.
Download the Viber app before you leave and have your friends and family do the same. Viber is an app for free calls, texts, and picture-messaging. There are several other apps out there (Skype, Whatsapp, etc.), but I found Viber to have the highest ratings in the Apple app store. With many coffee shops, hotels, and shopping malls offering free Wi-Fi, it is easy to stay connected and send a quick text or two to loved ones back home.
6. Get a plug adapter and voltage converter.
These gadgets are pretty inexpensive. Depending on the country you are visiting, you may need both a plug adapter and voltage converter. It is best to be prepared before landing in a foreign county with a dead phone and laptop.
7. Notify your bank and/or credit card company.
Let them know that you will be traveling and may use your credit card. They will make a note of it and you will not encounter any delays if you do use your card. Ideally, you would not use credit cards that charge foreign transaction fees on your trip. But it is a good idea to bring along a universally-accepted card like Visa or Mastercard for any emergencies that might creep up. Take it from me, a Discover card will get you nothing overseas. I learned that the hard way.
My husband is not going with me to Hong Kong, so I do not have to worry about the apartment. Otherwise, this list would be much, much longer! And, of course, do not forget to lock all your windows and doors! Being prepared for a long trip makes enjoying the actual vacation much easier.
Another thing I like to do that makes traveling easier is packing light! I always try to fit everything in a carry-on, instead of having to check baggage. Arriving at your destination with missing bags has got to be one of the worst starts to a vacation!
Be sure to check out the awesome travel tips from fellow readers in the comments section below!
Is there anything I forgot? Do you have any international travel tips for me?
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