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Things to do BEFORE you leave the House
When preparing for a trip, do you find yourself rushing around at the last minute, thoughts of what you need to get done crashing into your brain one right after another? And it seems as if there's a direct correlation between the length of your journey and the number of things that you find you have to do, doesn't there? When you get one accomplished, three more items pop up. Well, don't fret. It happens to all of us. Just a small amount of organization can go a long way in making your preparation so much easier. Here's a short "to-do" list of things (not in any particular order; no need in getting too organized!) that you should attend to before leaving.
  • Get your finances in order. If you're going to be away for an extended period of time, set up any automatic payments that you may need. And since it's never wise to constantly carry large sums of money around, you'll want to set in a supply of travelers' checks for your trip - but don't make the beginner's mistake of signing them before you're ready to use them.

  • Make several photocopies of your passport, visa, vaccination records, travel itinerary, and other such handy items. Keep a set at home, one in your luggage, and one on your person as you travel. If the real item gets lost or stolen, you'll have another to help the authorities to help you.

  • Speaking of itineraries, it's wise to let a couple of trusted friends or family members know the details of your travel plans and schedule, including the places you're going to stay and modes of transportation.

  • Do a little homework about your destination(s) before you get there. Are there any health or security concerns that you should be aware of? Find out if there are any parts of the city, region or country that you'll want to stay out of. Even mundane things like "Is the water fit to drink?" can have a major impact on the pleasantness of your trip - not to mention your digestive system.

  • Be sure to get a physical (if you haven't had one recently); and while you're there, tell the doctor of your travel destinations and ask if there are any recommended vaccinations that you should get. After all, you don't want to go there sick any more than you want to get sick once you get there.

  • If you're from the USA, register your travel plans with that country's State Department. It will give them the ability to notify you quickly if there's trouble either abroad near your destination or with your family at home. And do your best to find out the location of your country's Embassy before you set out. It can be of immense help in times of need.

  • Finally, purchase some travel insurance - especially if you'll be going across international borders. But shop around; plans are as numerous and varied as the insurers who provide them. You can get everything from medical coverage to baggage protection. Compare policy clauses and exclusions carefully; know what you're buying and from whom you're buying it. Experienced and reputable insurers with good financial ratings are your best bet.
Doing these things before you leave home will not only give you peace of mind, but will also help you to have a much more enjoyable and worry-free excursion into this great, wide, wonderful world of ours.
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