things to do before you travel

9 Things To Do Before You Travel

When you book a trip, planning is half of the fun. But while you are busy booking accommodations, planning activities, and packing, sometimes we lose sight of the logistics. Here is a checklist of things to do before you travel, some of which you may not even think of, but can change the whole trajectory of your trip.

Check Your Passport

Yo, this should go without saying if you are traveling internationally, but have you seen the stories of people getting left behind on their honeymoons because their passports had expired (or they lost them). Sometimes, it happens to the best of us. But a bad situation can be avoided by checking your passport expiration date as soon as you book and keeping your passport in a safe place. Expert tip: Make sure that your passport has six months of validity after the end of your trip, as many countries require this grace period for entry.


Check to See If You Need Visas

Different citizens need different visas for different countries. Always visit the U.S. Department of State (or whatever government entity is applicable in the country of citizenship) and check out the visa requirements. Some countries, like Brazil, have a minimum turnaround of a few weeks, so if you realize too late, you will not be able to get a visa in time to enter the country. Don’t let this be you.


Send Itinerary to Loved Ones

It is always a good idea to have at least someone who knows where you are. Once you finalize your itinerary, you should email it to family and friends so that if something happens, they know where to find you. This is especially important if you are country hopping or in an area that is prone to natural disasters. Be sure to include flight numbers and hotels so that you can be reached in a pinch.


Register with STEP

As I wrote in a previous post, when traveling internationally, be sure to registered with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Then if there is a disaster or some sort of attack, the nearest embassy knows you are in the country and can assist in making arrangements to get you to safety.


Call Hotels to Confirm

At least with domestic travel (I will email for international), I try to call to confirm that they have my reservation. This is especially important when booking on a third-party website, as errors happen. The last thing you want is to show up in a new city late at night only to find out that Travelocity or another online site had an error where your reservation wasn’t transmitted (no shade to Travelocity). Sometimes its best to just pick up the phone and confirm.

STEP Graphic

Print Out Confirmations

Yeah, yeah, it’s a digital world. I get that. But sometimes phones die or get lost or stop working or never work at all overseas. And what do you do when the hotel can’t find your reservation. This is why I have a physical copy or my flights, hotels, etc., especially when I am overseas, for quick reference just in case. Paper isn’t always a bag thing.


Screenshot, Screenshot, Screenshot

In addition to having paper, I will screenshot things that are important especially when traveling overseas. I will take a picture of pertinent directions, like how to get from the airport to the hotel late at night, or confirmation emails, or other things of that nature. Because again, what if Wifi is acting up and you don’t have international data? How are you going to pull up Google Maps? Or your reservation. Taking a quick picture of the important information and storing it in your phone is a quick and easy way to have things at your fingertips even when mobile roaming fails you.


Call Your Bank

Don’t be the person who is stuck overseas with no functioning credit cards because you forgot to call your bank and let them know you were country hopping. That is all.


Call Your Phone Provider

Some carriers, like Sprint and T-Mobile, have international roaming plans that can cut down on your international phone bill substantially. Check out my post on how to make sure you don’t break the bank when traveling abroad.


So there you have it. My checklist for before I travel (not including the packing list, of course). What other things do you always make sure to do before hopping your next flight? Sound off and share your expert tips!

Photo credit: LIfeChoices/Shutterstock


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

15 comments on “9 Things To Do Before You Travel”

  1. I def do all but STEP, which I should start doing. I def tell my family all the information they may need as well. Screenshots are my friend especially if there is a no wifi moment.

    1. Yes, STEP is a must!! Also, many countries in Africa now require that you have a visa issued from their Embassy and that you have a sponsorship letter (from someone in the country you are visiting) to enter the country. So, PLEASE check the Embassy website (for your visit) to fully understand their entry requirements!!!! I am leaving for West Africa tomorrow!!

  2. Great tips to keep in mind. Especially if your bank is Bank of America because they are very quick to suspend your account if you’re overseas.

  3. This is bookmarked for later! Everything in this post has come in handy for me at one point or another…definitely good to check for Visas, print out your itinerary, and tell other people about your plans. I can tell you’re an expert traveler 🙂

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