Before You Go – Tips on Preparing for a Trip

Preparing for a trip can be nerve-wracking, no matter how long you’re staying or how far you’re going – but especially if you’re traveling overseas. We sat down and compiled some top things every traveler should do and think about before their big trip.

If you’re going to be using your debit and credit cards outside the country, call your bank and let them know ahead of time. That way they won’t get suspicious and freeze your funds because your cards are suddenly being used on the other side of the planet. When you talk to the bank, also be sure to ask if your pin number will still work in foreign ATMs. Using traveler’s checks has become harder and harder. Banks often have to order them in advance, as they no longer keep them in their branches. Fewer and fewer establishments in other countries accept them, so you will likely have to go to a bank to cash them before you can use them to pay for food, lodging and purchases. ATM cards remain the best way to access funds while traveling, but check with your bank to determine the per transaction fee cost of withdrawing money in another country with your ATM. And don’t forget to protect currency and cards by keeping them in a money belt or pouch.

It’s a good idea to photocopy anything of importance – passport, credit cards, itinerary, prescriptions for vital medications – and take them with you when you travel. Photocopies should be kept in a separate place from the original (one in your carry-on, one in your suit-case, for example.) Also, leave an itinerary with a friend or family member who’s staying at home, so someone always knows where you are – especially if you’re traveling alone.

Contact Info
Be sure that you have your bank and credit card companies’ phone numbers in case you need to contact them while you’re traveling. It’s also a good idea to have your doctor’s number written down in case of emergency. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to call Sarah’s Ashland, Oregon pediatrician when we were in Turkey, and explain what was going on to a familiar voice. And, keep copies of all your prescriptions with your medication. If you’re taking a cell phone, it’s a good idea to make sure you know the overseas rates for calling and texting – in many cases the charges can add up extremely fast. If you plan on calling home while abroad, make sure to look up how to dial out of the country you’re visiting. (

Packing Bags
Before hauling your luggage to the airport, visit your airline’s website and find out what their weight and size requirements are for checked and carry-on luggage. You don’t want to be hit with fees for over-sized or overweight bags! One simple way to keep tabs on the weight of your luggage is to pick up a Balanzza Luggage Scale and weigh your bags before you go.

Finally, the day before you go, make sure to call your airline and confirm your flight. You may be able to check in early online, too.