If you’re making plans to travel with the extra money you now have, thanks to sharing your home with a roommate, and if you haven’t traveled in a number of years, do a little extra planning to take account of two things: 1) As with anything, we tend to get a little rusty if we haven’t done something for a while. So do some extra planning and build in some safeguards to help make sure you don’t make mistakes or forget things because you’re just not used to traveling. 2) Recognize that the world and the rules and procedures for travel have changed a lot if you’ve been out of the loop for a while. You must familiarize yourself with how things are done now so you’re not caught flat-footed at a crucial moment, causing you missed connections, extra expenses, embarrassment, or worse.
We found a nice little checklist on Vibrant Nation that prepares you for today’s travel, and we’ve listed the major points below and added a few of our own. Don’t be ashamed to use it. It’s only smart planning.
Call your credit card company to tell them what countries you’ll be in, and when – and even to tell them if you’re going to be in cities in the US that you don’t usually visit. Credit card companies have become ever more vigilant, for understandable reasons, and you may well find yourself standing at a hotel check-in desk being told that your card has been declined, if you haven’t made sure ahead of time that your card company will be expecting your out-of-state or out-of-country charges.
Speaking of charge cards, make sure you have a card with a chip if you’re going to be overseas. And, if you have time, check out which cards charge what fees for international transactions. It may be possible to find a charge card that does not charge extra fees at all for transactions out of the country. We heard recently that Bank of America has such a card. Check it out.
Don’t forget cash, in small denominations. While generally it’s safer to use your credit card for purchases and charges, still it’s good to have some cash for tips and for times when cash is better or easier for a purchase.
Pack a rubber door stopper for extra security inside your hotel room, and a clothespin or two for drapes that may not close completely.
Check out international calling equipment and fees. Some phones in the US will simply not work overseas. Others work, but charge outrageous fees for calls and texts. Know that there are economical alternatives and take advantage of them; an international plan can often be placed on your account temporarily during your time of travel, and deactivated when you return. And check out free or nearly free options such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and iphone and Android apps, If that’s all Greek to you, ask a daughter, son, niece or other younger person to help you. It’s most likely not a big deal for them, and can be a huge money-saver for you.