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Is there anything more exciting than preparing for a trip to another country? If you love traveling as much as we do, then probably not! Before you start packing, there are a few important things you should be before traveling abroad to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. After all, traveling should be enjoyable, not stressful, right?

To prepare for your next trip, here are 10 tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

1. Check Your Passport

One of the first things you should do before traveling abroad is to check your passport. This is something you absolutely don’t want to leave until the last minute, as passport issues can occasionally take a while to get resolved. So, make sure you locate your passport in plenty of time before your trip. Actually check that it’s stored where you think it is because you don’t want to realize it’s misplaced a week before you’re due to leave.

Another thing you want to look at is the expiration date of your passport. Make sure it’s not expiring anytime soon. Some countries will not allow entry if your passport expiration is less than six months from your departure date. If you need to renew your passport, it typically takes four to six weeks. While you can expedite this process, it’s best not to leave it to chance. Locate your passport and check the expiration date well before you’re trip so you’re prepared in advance.

You should also scan your passport and save a digital copy on your phone. If your physical passport gets misplaced or stolen during your travels, you’ll have this as a back-up to get back home.

2. Determine What’s Required for Entrance Visas

If you aren’t already aware of visa requirements for the country you’re traveling to, you could wind up paying a lot of additional fees you weren’t expecting. Many countries don’t require United States passport holders to have a visa. However, there are some that will collect a visa fee upon arriving at the airport and this isn’t included in your airfare price. 

There are also countries that have a long visa process that can take a month or two to be completed. You want to make sure you’re aware of what you’ll encounter prior to your travels and get things taken care of in plenty of time.

3. Inform Your Bank & Credit Card Company That You’ll be Traveling

There’s nothing worse than going to use your credit card abroad and discovering that it’s been declined. If the bank makes a move to freeze your accounts due to what they think is suspicious activity, you’ll be left with only the cash in your pocket until it’s resolved. Then, you’ll wind up spending ages on the phone with your bank trying to get the whole thing sorted out.

To prevent this from happening to you, get in touch with your bank and credit card companies before traveling abroad. Let them know where you’ll be going, how long you’ll be gone, and that you’ll be using your cards while you’re away. This simple phone call can save you from dealing with a major headache later on.

It’s also smart to ask about any fees that you might incur during your travels. The last thing you want is to rack up expensive foreign exchange charges from your bank or credit card company during a vacation. Some credit cards charge less than a dollar for foreign transaction fees, while others charge significantly more. But if you’re a frequent traveler, find a card that’s fee-free!

4. Ask Your Cell Phone Provider About International Plans

Hate to break it to you, but just because your cell phone works in another country, it doesn’t mean your phone calls and data usage will be covered under your current plan. Before traveling abroad, make it a point to have a chat with your cell phone provider about international coverage.

You might discover that your current plan offers international coverage already or you may need to change it ahead of your trip. While it’s never fun to call your cell phone provider, doing so can save you from incurring an expensive bill while you’re away.

To prevent any extra data fees on your next bill, leave your phone on airplane mode and connect to Wi-Fi whenever it’s possible.

5. Get Travel Insurance for You & Your Valuables

Many people brush off the idea of getting travel insurance. Instead, they figure it’s just a way for airlines to make an extra buck off your purchase. However, travel insurance can be beneficial for you and your valuables by giving you peace of mind before traveling abroad.

Travel insurance usually covers you for weather and unforeseen cancellations, lost luggage, medical issues, and work-related problems. And having insurance to protect your belongings is handy if you’re traveling with valuables such as a cell phone, your laptop, or an expensive camera.

6. Put a Hold On All of Your Mail

If your mail gets delivered to your house, you certainly don’t want your mailbox filling up with bills and magazines while you’re away. And you definitely can’t have packages being left on your doorstep!

For those who are traveling for weeks at a time and aren’t able to have a friend or family member collect their mail, contact the postal service to put a hold on your mail. This way, you don’t have to worry about anything being stolen. Just be sure to contact them to resume mail delivery once you return.

7. Pay Your Bills or Schedule Payments Before Leaving

When you’re trying to enjoy a relaxing vacation on the beach, the last thing you want to think about is all the bills you need to pay. Before traveling abroad, make sure everything is paid and taken care of before you get on the plane to head out of town. If your bills are set to come directly out of your bank account, then there’s nothing to worry about.

However, if there are some that you have to pay manually (for example, by mailing in a check), get it paid before you leave. That way, you can enjoy your vacation and know everything is running smoothly back at home. You won’t be left dealing with missed payments or late fees afterwards.

8. Print Out Flight & Hotel Confirmations

You’re probably wondering why you’d need to print out your flight, hotel, and other confirmations before your trip when everything is accessible on your phone. But think about it… What if the Wi-Fi isn’t working properly and you’re not able to present confirmation of the hotel room you’ve booked? What if the battery has died on your phone or you’ve somehow misplaced it? There are a lot of "what if" situations that you could potentially run into.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so print out any confirmation receipts before traveling abroad. You’ll be prepared in case something goes wrong and you’ll be thankful you took this extra step.

9. Purchase an Adapter for Your Electronics

This tip is a given, but it’s something that’s easy to overlook when you’re scrambling to get your luggage packed at the last minute. Make sure you bring along an adapter (or two) so you’re able to plug in and use your electronics while you’re away. If you forget, you'll be forced to buy an overpriced adaptor in the airport or when you get to your destination.

10. Download Books or Movies for Long-Haul Flights

Lastly, before traveling abroad, make sure you’re prepared for those long flights you might be taking. Download any books or movies you’re interested in so you have something to keep you busy while you’re stuck on the plane. Some older planes don't always come equip with entertainment systems. 

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