Planning a global getaway can be exciting, yet daunting. Before you set off, a little preparation goes a long way. Equip yourself with essential paperwork and insights to navigate new territories. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey with confidence.

Passport and map

Passports and Visa's

Ensure your passport is signed, up-to-date, and if necessary, accompanied by the appropriate visas. Remember, some destinations might need your passport to remain valid for a specific time beyond your trip’s end. Check your destination country’s requirements. Sherpa is an excellent resource for documentation needed for specific countries.

Create a pair of photocopies of the ID page in your passport. This will help in the replacement process if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with a trusted friend. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport. It doesn’t hurt to take a photo of the picture page of your passport and email it to yourself.

Enroll in the STEP Program.

Itinerary

Make sure to share your itinerary with someone back home, so they can reach you if there’s ever an urgent situation.

Several suitcases against  a wall

Luggage

Always keep an eye on your bags. When in public spaces, steer clear of taking any items from people you don’t know. Place your contact information inside your suitcase in case it gets misplaced. We also use bright luggage tags; they stick out when retrieving them from the overhead bin or baggage carousel.      

Make sure to get a claim tag for each item of luggage that you check-in. Air tags and Tiles (for Android users) are great ways to keep track of your bags. If you are flying United Airlines, their app has a luggage tracking feature.

Use your phone to take a picture of your packed suitcase, inside and out. If it’s lost, your photo will help locate it or process the insurance claim in the worst-case scenario.

Research on a computer with notebook and coffee

Destination Insights

Make sure to review the Consular Information Sheets, and if relevant, check out any Travel Warnings or Public Announcements for the countries on your itinerary. If you are from the US, check out Travel.state.gov

Get to know the local customs and laws of the countries you’re visiting. Remember, when you’re in another nation, you’ll be governed by its legal system. Google can be your friend with this.

Brush up on essential phrases in the local language of your travel spot. It’s a surefire way to earn respect and ease your conversations. No fluency is required; just mastering greetings, gratitude, and practical questions like “Where’s the bathroom?” can charm the residents and demonstrate your effort. Google Translate is also an excellent resource.

If you like to read, check out travel guides and history books before you travel. Although you’ll find a lot of information online, you won’t see everything. Books are a great resource.

TSA approved suitecase lock.

Take a Lock

Always take a combination travel lock with you when you travel. We use them often both in transit and at location. Although we generally stay in mid-priced hotels, we’ve found that not all have room safes. In this case, we secure items in our suitcase. They are more challenging to steal than unsecured cash.

Credit and Debit Cards

Stay aware about the balances and credit limits of your cards. Take an extra bank card with you as a backup. Let your bank know you are traveling. Sometimes, this can be done online. If not, a quick call to their customer service department will work. If the bank does not know you are traveling, they may lock your card when they see charges from foreign countries. It’s best to be preemptive and let them know in advance.

 

Airplane taking off

Flights

If possible, fly directly to your destination. It may be a little cheaper for a flight with stops, but sometimes it’s worth a few extra dollars not to worry about missed connections or luggage lost in transit.

When checking in at the airport, stick close to business travelers in security lines. They’re swift and pack light due to tight schedules and experience. Follow their lead for a quicker pass-through! On the flip side, steer clear of families. Although it’s not their fault, they will take forever to pass through due to the amount of stuff the kids require.

Travel Insurance

Back in the day, travel insurance was a luxury. Not anymore, it’s a necessity. The world has changed, and every trip has hiccups. Travel insurance not only protects the investment you have made (prepaid items like tours, cruises, hotels, etc.) but will also help with any medical issues. Remember, US medical insurance is not accepted outside the US. Purchase Travel Insurance!