1. Get the larger passport book. There’s probably a 50% chance that before you move abroad or start your international travels, you’ll need to renew or apply for a passport. The standard issue passport book comes with 17 exit/entry visa pages, but believe it or not, there is an ‘extended’ passport book that can be given to you at no additional cost, with a whopping 43 exit/entry visa pages. I’m just kicking myself that I didn’t get one of the larger books when I renewed my passport after getting married; only four years in and I have only three pages left to fill. We all know how much of a headache getting a new passport book is!
2. Consolidate your things. I used to be a chronic over-packer. I was the girl that literally packed anything and everything just to make sure I was prepared for all weather and activities. As the years have gone by I’ve either gotten lazier at packing or really good at it. It’s a toss up between the two. Now I barely pack a backpack, and my husband is looking over my shoulder exclaiming, “Are you sure that’s enough?” Before your jaw pops open and your eyebrows raise at his statement…there is a reason behind him saying that. Turns out I don’t pack enough of what I really need and we end up having to go on last minute shopping trips.
I’m getting outside the point here.
Whenever you travel long distance, the thing that sucks the most when you get to that final destination is having to deal with a mountain of luggage. Before you check those bags, go through them three or four times. Do you really need two black tee shirts and five pairs of jeans?
3. Get an unlocked phone. Having an unlocked phone is the best thing that ever happened to us while we travel. Instead of paying ghastly monthly rates, we only pay $19 dollars for a full phone plan in New Zealand (talk, text, data). When we go on vacation we always stop at one of the little phone kiosks to buy a sim and a data so we can get around using a GPS and not waste our time getting lost anywhere. Also using our phone’s GPS is good way to figure out if a taxi driver is being honest or trying to rip you off.
An unlocked phone may cost you more upfront (especially in the US), but in the long run it’ll save you a ton in monthly fees.
4. Purchase quality camera equipment. There is nothing worse than regret. Especially when it comes to quality pictures! I’m not saying to get out there and buy the most expensive item you see on the shelf, just make sure you have a camera that can take fantastic photos. Suggestion, if you’re not wanting to fork out the bucks or the time to buy a full blown SLR kit with a million lenses just to lug it around everywhere on your trip, take a look at the Canon EOS M! It’s light weight, takes gorgeous photos, and it can use all Canon EF and ES lenses. I’d love to try one out someday.
5. Plan out your first few days abroad. I only say this because after flying for 15+ hours, you won’t want to do anything but stay in your hotel, and most certainly won’t have the energy to look around and figure out stuff to do right away. Either that or you’re one of those go-getters who is remarkably good at getting over jet-lag within hours, and your brain is literally exploding with all the possibilities of what a new country brings.
Plan at least the first couple days in advance (while you have a clear head) so you don’t have to feel stressed about doing it on vacation. Also I know from personal experience that when you don’t plan ahead, you spend a good majority of a day cooped up in a hotel room (the only place you can find free wifi anyway) surfing Trip Advisor looking for the best things to do when you could already be out doing them! I’m a huge itinerary/list person anyway, so seeing my plans come to fruition is a personal success and energy booster!
What are your pre-travel musts?