Aside from the usual pack your bags, book hotels, and such, there are things we sometimes forget about. So having a things to do before traveling list is an excellent way to do a check! Especially if you don’t have months and months to think about it. As I’m all about budget travel, I want to spend my hard-earned money on seeing castles and museums, not little things like fees and travel-size toiletries! I’m pretty sure you want to as well. So you’ll find a number of tips below from Capital One travel deals to the best international debit card to currency exchange! This post is a quick travel list of things to do before traveling!
1. Put Your Mail on Hold
Put your mail on hold so that it doesn’t pile up in front of your door or in your mailbox. Aside from the eyesore of having a pile, you do this so that no one knows you’re not home. I’ve luckily never been robbed *knocks on wood*, but everyone knows if you have a pile of mail sitting for days and days, you’re likely not home. You can put your mail on hold on-line for most locations using the USPS hold mail.
2. Alert Your Bank
Let your bank and/or credit card company know that you’ll be away. Else they may freeze your account when they see a charge from an out of the ordinary location. The last thing you want is to get halfway around the world and have no access to money! You can do this online or by phone with your bank or credit card company. It’s a must for your travel to-do list!
3. Plan Your Currency Exchange
While you can also get the local currency before you travel. I tend to wait until I get there. I don’t like carrying a load of cash with me around, and the US exchange rate usually isn’t the greatest. Here are some fantastic tips from Rick Steve’s on cash and currency.
4. Best Credit Cards for Traveling Internationally
Check if you’ll get charged for using your credit card internationally. If so, you may want to switch to another card without fees. Before going to Europe, I had to figure out the best way to deal with how I’d pay for everything. When I went to Vancouver a few years ago, I stupidly neglected to research international credit card fees.
Needless to say, I came home with about $35 in charges. Mind you, I was only there for a few days! Imagine if I had been there for longer! So, to avoid my mistake, make sure to do your research before your trip on the best credit cards for traveling internationally. It’s a must for your travel to-do list!
I found that the Chase Sapphire card charged no international fees. Making it an excellent credit card for traveling internationally. The card is free for the first year, $90 every year after that. You can, of course, cancel the card before the first year to avoid paying if you’re only getting it for a trip. Chase also had a deal on the card, spend $2,000 in the first three months, and get $400 back. I definitely was going to spend that, between costs for my Aunt and I, so this was great news for me! The card was easy to use in Europe. I only had one problem at a small boutique shop in Paris.
Update – Capital One Travel
I have since moved to the Capital One Venture Card and really love it! For spending $3,000 in 3 months, I got $500 worth of points back. I was also able to capitalize on the Capital One travel deal with Hotels.com where I got 10x the points on hotels booked through a particular link. This Hotels.com deal is now over, but I was able to rack up a lot of points while it lasted! I was able to get over 75,000 points which is $750 worth of points with these Captial One travel deals!
5. Best International Debt Card
For my international debit card, I opened a Bank of America debit card account, which allowed me to make cash withdrawals without fees. With this account, you can only make transactions online or at the ATM, however. You also can’t transfer money between banks on your iPhone. They haven’t found a secure way of doing this yet. So if you’re only bringing over your iPhone, not a laptop, make sure to transfer all the money you’ll need before you go!
Bank of America has several international partners such as Barclays and BNP Paribas, so they won’t charge you any extra fees when withdrawing, making it an excellent international debit card. Do check the Bank of American international partner list before you go, because they don’t have partners everywhere. There were tons of these banks in London and Paris. However, in Ireland, they unfortunately didn’t have a partnership with Bank of America. Luckily, I only visited the ATM there once, so it wasn’t too much of a ding to my pocket. This is the best international debit card I have found!
6. Change Your PIN Number
Make sure your PIN is four digits and not more. Why? Because some international ATMs only support 4-digit PINs.
Also, check your PIN does not start with a zero. I’ve heard this is a myth from some people but better safe than sorry. You should also know your PIN by the numbers, as some ATMs outside the United States do not have letters on the keypads. Bank of America has these international travel tips and others conveniently located on their site.
7. Traveling with Credit Cards
Write down your credit card numbers or take a photo of them on your phone. This way, if they get lost, you can contact your credit card company and know what card was lost! Also, take out any credit cards or cards you won’t use on your trip. I always take out my Kohl’s and Target cards that I know I won’t use on vacation. Lightens your bag, and if something does get lost, you haven’t lost everything!
8. Make a Copy of Your Passport
I always make a copy so that heaven forbid I lose it I have a copy. I give a copy to my mom, keep a copy in my suitcase, and email it to myself. Always better to be safe than sorry! I don’t think it would work to get back home should you lose your passport. But it’ll be proof to help get a new one hopefully!
9. Pay Your Bills
Make sure your rent, credit cards, car, and all those payments are made before you leave! The last thing you want to think about is whether your car is paid or not while you’re abroad! It’s a must for your travel to-do list!
10. Be Eco-Friendly
Another smart travel tip I have is taking a reusable bag with you that folds up as a spare. I have a London themed on that I’ve used on many tips to hold purchases, use for shopping, or to put some extras I can’t fit in my carry on. If you don’t already have one, and why wouldn’t you? Definitely add it to your travel list of things to buy before your trip!
11. Get Yourself an Outlet Adapter
You should always remember to pack your outlet adapter! Your outlet adapter is always a must-have! I figure if I say it twice this travel tip will stick and you’ll add it to your travel list. Don’t go all Leap Year on anyone and accidentally short out the town while trying to put the wrong type of plug into the wrong socket. No one is going to thank you for that!
I got a cheap one from Target and it has lasted me for years. It worked perfectly fine with my iPhone charger and my hair straightener. You don’t need the fancy-schmancy ones! At least not for anywhere in Europe. If you buy them at your destination, they may be more expensive. So make sure to grab one before you leave the country!
In Paris, the adapter did get a little warm so I wouldn’t leave anything plugged in more than you need to. It may have been that the hostel was old, but thought I’d just give you a warning anyway.
When I was in England, I did try to plug in my blow dryer, but because it was the larger plug like most blow dryers it didn’t fit properly into my outlet adapter and then into the wall. If there’s something you need to plug in that’s the bigger plug I’d advise to try it out before traveling. Or check with your hotel or hostel and see if they have a replacement. A lot of places have hairdryers in their hotels today.
12. Travel Size Toiletries and Cosmetic Bags
Don’t buy the fancy-schmancy travel-size toiletries, go to the dollar store. They last just as long and work just as well. Or be more sustainable and reuse bottles from hotels. I haven’t had to buy any travel-sized toiletries in years! I keep a box at home with all my travel-sized products and pull it out when I have a trip coming up.