12 Important Things To Do Before You Travel
I still remember the time when packing for a trip took me from three to five days! Yes, you heard it right! Three or five days surfing the web in search of decent backpacks, clothes, and itineraries, buying travel insurance and doing my best to get everything done. Thankfully, times have changed. After almost 10 years on the road, it doesn’t take me that long to pack. However, I still had to remember all the things I must to do before I go, until recently. I know how easy it is to lose sight of something that may seem less important at first glance but becomes essential on the road. To make things easier I have put together a travel checklist of 12 important things to do before you travel. These tips have helped me and I hope you will also find them useful.
1. FINDING CHEAP AIRFARE
If you prefer flying, then obtaining a cheap plane ticket is one of the first things to do. The sooner you get it, the cheaper it would cost. I rarely rely on special offers just a few days before the flight. It may result in a spoiled trip. It might also be risky to pay for accommodation before you get the tickets. I once faced a situation when there were no tickets on the dates I needed, so I had to find a less convenient option.
If you already proceeded with booking accommodation, this would imply possible cancellation. To get cheap airfare, consider flying with low-cost airlines. It may save your money in case you travel with a small suitcase or backpack. Monitor websites and search aggregators for special offers when planning ahead.
- Round trip tickets are usually cheaper than one-way flights. But sometimes round tickets are worth purchasing even if you don’t plan to return;
- Take advantage of flying to secondary airports because they are hubs for low-cost airlines;
- Connecting flight is a great way to get cheap flight;
- Unpopular travel dates like Tuesdays and Wednesday tend to be the cheapest days to fly. You can also notice that the most expensive flights fall on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the day before holidays. Thursday is also the cheapest day to fly out on a long-haul flight.
2. Hotel Booking
If you decide to stay at the hotel there are two possible ways to get accommodated. You can either search for the option you need upon arrival, but it’s a risky venture. Or you can book it in advance by through booking engines. This is where you can filter out the required option by cost, rating or location. Take into account extra services when choosing a hotel. If you want a beach holiday, then stick to a hotel next to the beach. City sightseeing, unlike beach vacation, usually implies a downtown location. Both options may not be cheap, so I would recommend comparing them every time before booking.
Booking options and payment methods may vary. Some hotels require advance payment, while others allow paying before you check-in. The first option is more reliable since you get guaranteed accommodation. But the second option gives you more freedom if you make up your mind to cancel your booking.
3. Email Travel Documents And Make Copies
This is one of the most important things to do before you travel. I always make copies of my passport, travel insurance policy, tour confirmations, driver’s license and sometimes local ID card. Some of these documents I keep inbox while others travel with me. Passport loss or robbery may ruin the entire trip, so keep your passport separate from money (in case you carry it). Let your relatives or close friends have these photocopies as well.
Of course, you may never need these documents during your trip but having them inbox would make you the happiest person on the planet if problems arise. Since you don’t have to always carry your passport, you can keep the original in your hotel safe or locked into your suitcase, while having a paper copy with you.
4. Get The Travel Insurance
It really doesn’t matter whether you are going abroad for three days or embarking on a month-long trip to Thailand, Travel Insurance is something I always consider very seriously. After hearing all these bone-chilling stories about travelers who end up paying tons of money only because their luggage was stolen, I think Travel Insurance is something that helps you feel more secure.
Learn more about World Nomads Insurance and get covered for your next trip
While a lot of people are happy with the general policies available, such companies as World Nomads provide tailored packages to cover your needs. Their policies can cover damages, medical assistance, theft and many more. I have traveled with World Nomads several times and when I have needed to get medical attention abroad or returning early, I was covered. Of course, chances are you will never need travel insurance but having a backup plan is always a good idea.
5. Notify Your Bank
By letting you bank know when and where you’ll be traveling you can avoid a real pain. Banks and credit card companies may decline the payment if they see you’re trying to withdraw money in a foreign country. Of course, they may not necessarily freeze your account. Instead, they usually ask you to call to confirm it really is you making the transaction, with security questions. That is why it is so important to get their correct details in case of emergency.
6. Reduce Your Roaming Charges
It is quite easy to get a massive phone bill for international calls. Sure, you can shut off your phone, turn off network connections or set your phone on airplane mode. But what if you want to stay online. A lot of travelers want convenience, security and fast internet connection. So here are some tips:
How To Get Cheap International Calls and Internet:
- Consider obtaining a local sim card
- Take a look at international prepaid data sim card
- Use WhatsApp or Skype
- Switch off
automatic syncing in all of your apps
- Stick to free wi-fi hotspots if you’re not sure what exactly your plan includes
- Get a pocket-sized personal wi-fi hotspot to keep all your devices connected in over 100 countries, with unlimited internet.
7. Learn Basic Phrases in The Local Language
Yes, learning local languages isn’t that important when you go to Europe. But going to a country where not everyone speaks English can cause some pain. I know what I’m talking about. In countries like Russia or China vast majority of the people couldn’t hold a conversation in English. What is worse street signs are usually in local languages so it took me some time before I could navigate them.
When you go to a country with an unfamiliar language, it would be wise to learn few basic phrases that can help you to communicate effectively. Learn at least the following phrases: “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank You”, “Do you speak the … language?” “My name is …”, “Where is …?” “I’m looking for …” etc. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to remember a foreign language at once. Write down these basic phrases or use an offline phrase dictionary. The latter worked out for me.
8. Know Your Check-In Hours
Hostel check-in desk is like a circulatory system of your body. This is where you get all the information about the hostel, where you pay and get your key. While most hostels have 24/7 check-in desk, some hostels will only work during certain hours. Specify the hours well in advance. Because when your train/flight is late you can stuck looking for another hostel. If you know your hostel’s check-in hours but unable to get there on time make sure to inform the reception desk not to cancel your booking.
9. Plan Your Itinerary
The navigation system is of a great help when you get lost or looking for accommodation. With offline maps like Maps.me and Google Maps loaded on your smartphone, it turns out to be a banana problem to navigate in and around the city. Another possible way is to print a map screenshot, but it may not be convenient due to limited sight range. If you travel by car through a foreign country, having a navigation system is of a great help too.
10. Check The Weather Forecast Before You Go
Checking what the weather will be like at your destination several days before you go can be a prudent decision. However, due to the fact that weather forecast can change very quickly, it would be more reasonable to check it on the eve of departure. Knowing the weather forecast is essential because it allows you to take emergency measures in case your flight is delayed or cancelled. In addition, it helps you choose appropriate clothes for the trip.
11. Avoid Wearing New Shoes
To avoid blisters and spoiled trip use only time-tested shoes. Spend some time picking the right shoes before you go to ensure it tailored to your feet. This is even more important if your trip implies hiking tour. However, if you obtain the new shoes just before the trip make sure to wear them for some time at home or in a hotel to avoid discomfort. You may also consider a new shoe padding before wearing them outside.
12. Plan Your First Day
I love being spontaneous. It gives me this sense of freedom and is one of the reasons why I travel. But I also know how challenging your first day in an unfamiliar city can be. If you’re on a tight budget, find the bus route or a train that will get you from the airport.
If you plan to go on a sightseeing trip it would be wise to decide in advance which sites should be on your list. Attractions, museums, squares, and monuments should be grouped together in one list. I bet you, like me, hate lines, so consider obtaining an e-ticket if it is available. It goes without saying that specifying the working hours of exhibitions, museums, churches and other sights is essential.
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