This summer restarted my love affair with international travel. Since I haven’t done this in several years, I created a checklist of things to do make sure all the grown up stuff gets handled while I’m away. There are things you don’t want to worry about when you are out of the country, like rent, bills, insurance and letting your bank and credit card companies know where you’ll be.
Your access to the internet and the electronics you bring will dictate what you’ll need to get done before you leave. Below are some of the things I do before I leave, if there is something I missed, comment and I will update this post to include some of your pro tips.
I call bank and credit card companies to set travel notices with the countries I’ll be visiting. Unfortunately, if you set the travel notices online too close to your departure the bank could put a hold your accounts. My bank declined charges in Hong Kong and Singapore on the first day of travel because one department didn’t get the notification.
Thankfully, the Grand Hyatt Singapore did a fantastic job at making me feel at home even before I was able to sort out my credit card guarantee. From arrival, they had a woman greet me as I got out of the taxi, had someone take my bag up to my room, then walked me to the front desk to expedite the check-in process. Even with the credit card issues, Jeffrey, the wonderful front desk officer, allowed me to check-in and to get some rest while I waited for my bank to open. He also sorted out getting the corporate rate instead of the rack rate for the duration of my stay after the Formula 1 Grand Prix ended. This was an issue the corporate travel department was trying to sort out since I booked this trip. A+ for hospitality and customer service at the Grand Hyatt Singapore.
During my first trip to Singapore, I called the bank and credit card companies, and avoided the hold situation from the fraud department. This is why I recommend talking to someone instead of using the online option, especially if you don’t set the travel notice at least a week ahead.
International Travel Checklist
- Make 2 copies (front/back) of the debit and credit cards you plan to bring.
- Schedule bills to be paid through online banking. This set it and forget it tip helps you have peace of mind while traveling. You won’t be pressed to log into your bank in sketchy cafe if you don’t have a local SIM for your trip.
- Set travel notices for the credit cards you plan to bring with you. You can do this online, however, I urge you call and talk to a bank representative. The situation with my bank could have been avoided, had I called.
- Make sure your passport is current and will be valid for at least 6 months after the date of your travel. Some companies won’t allow you to travel unless you have an extra 6 months available on your passport.
- Make 2 copies of your passport and drivers license.
- Make 2 copies of your itinerary and make sure your frequent flier and loyalty programs are attached to your reservation, you want to make sure you get credit for your travel so you can upgrade or travel for free in the future:
- Car service or transportation to/from the airport
- Sightseeing reservations
- Call your carrier and activate the international plan. (from @elaineshoe)
- Put a hold on your mail from the USPS (from @elaineshoe)
- You can also put your travel documents on Google Drive and give access to the people who are you backups. (from @annetran)
Put together 2 printed travel packets, one to take on the trip and the second to leave with a trusted family member. In each travel packet, include 1 copy of the passports and itinerary, frequent flier numbers and medical information. It advisable to scan electronic copies so you can reach them from your iPad or tablet if you lose your document or cannot call the person with the copies. Place these documents in envelopes and label one to take, put that in your carry-on or purse and label the other one for home. Then make sure you give the second packet to your trusted friend or family member.
I’ll create a downloadable PDF of the packing list and travel checklist when I get a break during this trip.