5 Things to Do Before You Travel Internationally

January 15, 2016

Before you head out of Virginia, there are always the typical packing lists, finding a pet sitter, turning down the thermostat, and other miscellaneous tasks, but there are also some top priority things to do to add to that list to make sure your travels are stress-free!

1. Notify your bank and credit card companies.
Even if you're going 100% cash for your trip, still let your financial places know you're headed out of the country. Most banks have this feature in their online banking accounts or all you need to do is give them a call to put a Travel Plan on your account. This will prevent any speedbumps while abroad, especially if you have an emergency. (Banks may also offer you the option to exchange U.S. dollars for the country's currency pre-trip which could be a time and money saver for you!)

2. Set up international phone plan add-ons.
All cell phone providers have temporary add-on options for your call plan specifically for your traveling. Whether it's extra data, unlimited texts, or limited call minutes at a special rate, they can be added on and then taken off of your plan as needed.

3. Request that your mail be held at your local post office branch.
If you'll be gone for at least seven days and don't have a housesitter, head over to the USPS' Hold Mail Service to make sure nothing goes missing while you're gone. This will also keep everything in one place, and double bonus, it's a free service! Why not take advantage of it?

4. Be medically prepared with prescriptions, meds, and vaccinations.
Different places have different brands of different medication. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) doesn't really exist over in the UK but has a similar cousin (FYI: be on the lookout for paracetamol). If you're extra sensitive to any sort of medication, definitely pack your own. And if you're going to a country that requires shots from the doctor, plan ahead! The CDC's website is jam-packed with traveler health information to help you decide whether or not shots are required or recommended.

5. Download relevant travel apps.
Subway, maps, airlines, banking, you name it. There's an app for that. Whatever it is, be sure your phone is stocked up with the right digital travel helpers before you leave! When I travel, airlines' apps are probably my most used with subway/local transit map apps following after. Be sure to look for the apps that don't require a cell signal/WiFi since that can get pretty pricey after a few uses!

- Chelsea

Photography: Chelsea LaVere