OK, so you have your plane reservations, and your mail stopped. What else do you need to take care of before the big day arrives? Here are eight suggestions that will enhance your peace of mind.
Contact your phone company and check on their policies for international calls. If your phone company’s plan is too expensive, you might consider buying a phone with prepaid minutes, or purchasing prepaid calling cards.
Contact your credit card company and let them know where you’re traveling and when. That information will alert the card company that your overseas charges are not fraudulent. You should also check out their rates for purchases made outside the US and/or cash advances. Generally, it’s better to use an ATM card to withdraw enough cash for a few days at a time.
Make two photocopies of your key travel documents. Those include your passport, itinerary, hotel and airline confirmations, driver’s license and credit cards (front and back). Leave one copy in the US with a friend or family member, and take the second copy with you. If these critical records are lost or stolen, the photocopies can help you replace the documents.
If you take medications, bring a physician’s note with you. If you run out or lose your medicine, the doctor’s note (along with your insurance card) can facilitate getting the medicine refilled. Carry your medication in the original container you receive from the pharmacy or drug store.
Emergency cash access
Emergency plan for cash access: Have a plan in place so that money can be sent to you if your cash, credit cards or travelers checks are stolen. A popular method is to send money through a money transfer firm, which allows a friend or family member to electronically send funds to a foreign country. You can receive cash, get a bank deposit, or have the payment posted to a credit card. You’ll find that the currency exchange rates are reasonable, and that the fees for these transactions are low.
The State Department provides important warnings and alerts, based on reports from embassies and consulates throughout the world. A warning means that the local consulate would have difficulty helping a US citizen in distress in a foreign land. A travel alert can involve a demonstration or a severe storm in a particular country.
It makes customs officials more comfortable if your passport remains valid for several months past the time you visit. If your passport is near expiration, get the passport renewed. The US State Department website explains that it may take 4-6 weeks to process a passport. Keep in mind that a passport is required to return to the US if you travel by air.
Check with your insurance company to see if overseas medical treatment will be covered by your insurance policy. Typically, your policy will require that you meet a deductible before coverage is paid for under the plan. A deductible requires you to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, up to a certain dollar amount. Make sure that medical expenses paid overseas are included in your deductible total for the year. If you find gaps in your coverage, discuss them with your insurance agent or ask your travel agent for supplemental insurance.