You booked your airline tickets, reserved rooms at your favorite hotels and resorts, bought tickets to your favorite attractions and shows - hopefully, all by using our list of travel resources. You think you are ready for your dream vacation? We bet you forgot these things to do.
It's okay! It happens to the best of us. Even twoGlampers are not immune from making such snafus. We have more than 50 years of combined traveling experience between us. Yet, during our latest visit to Las Vegas, we had to resort to Starbucks every morning for breakfast because we did not completely research our "breakfast included" option. We took Expedia's word for it. So, to help you and to remind us, we came up with a list of things to do before you embark on your dream vacation.
In case you do not like to read the whole post; here is the checklist in PDF format.
1 - Travel Insurance
If you are traveling abroad and have not purchased travel insurance; please do so at your earliest convenience. Travel insurance not only safeguards your vacation investment while at home, it also helps you with any unforeseen circumstances abroad; such as illness, flight and other cancellations; adverse weather conditions, loss of passports and tickets; etc. If you have not done so already, you can cover your upcoming vacation with Travel Guard - a twoGlampers affiliate and one of the best travel insurance companies.
2 - Enroll With The Embassy Or Consulate At Destination
Not many American vacationers know that there is a free traveler enrollment program known as Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows U.S. citizens and nationals to enroll their trips with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the destination. Once enrolled, U.S. citizens and nationals receive information about safety conditions, latest travel advisories, civil unrest, and much more from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the destination. This free service also helps your family and friends get in touch with you in case of emergency, natural disaster, or civil unrest at home. twoGlampers always enroll with Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) when traveling outside the United States.
3 - Double Check Your Passport And Make Copies
In case you did not check your passport prior to booking your vacation, and your overseas trip is approaching soon, do so now. Check your passport's expiration date. Most countries require that a passport must be valid for at least six months after the last day of your trip. Check for any defacing, tearing, damages, or alterations on all pages.
If all is good, make at least two legible photocopies of the page that has your photo (pages 2 & 3 on U.S. passport) and any page(s) that have the visa(s) stamped for your destination country(ies). In addition, take pictures of the same pages and store it in an online secure photo storage site, and as well as on your cellphone. One photocopy is for your carry-on bag, and the other is for your checked bag. Read and bookmark this page in case your passport is lost or stolen abroad.
4 - Print, Photocopy, And Save All Your Tickets And Passes
If you booked your tours and attractions through booking websites like our affiliate Viator, your tickets and passes are delivered and stored electronically on your devices. twoGlmapers have had hits and miss with electronic tickets. Some attractions were happy to accept electronic tickets and passes. Some, on the other hand, required a paper voucher to issue tickets and passes. To save time and avoid hassles, twoGlampers highly recommend printing, photocopying, and saving all your tickets and passes in a folder as well as on multiple devices.
5 - Secure And Pack Your Documents
twoGlampers advise and highly recommend investing in a travel wallet and passport holder, as well as a waterproof bag. Travel wallet and passport holder keeps passports, credit cards, cash, and tickets organized in one place; whereas, waterproof bag secures important documents from water damage. twoGlampers; however, also advise not to keep all your credit cards and currencies in one place.
Distribute cash and credit cards between pockets, carry-on luggage, and checked bags. The idea here is to secure at least one method of payment in case of emergency. Once you gathered, organized, and secured all the documents; place them in your carry-on bag well ahead of your travel date.
6 - Disburse Travel Money Into Various Modes Of Payments
twoGlampers always disburse their travel monies into various modes of payments. Best way to carry money, while traveling, is to carry a credit card. However, not all credit cards offer, "no foreign transaction," fees benefit. In addition, credit card companies calculate foreign currency exchange rates on the bank-rate basis, which could significantly differ from the exchange rate in the open market.
Moreover, not all countries (e.g. Cuba) and shops accept the U.S. or international credit cards. Therefore, we recommend disbursing monies into credit cards, some cash in dollars/pounds/euros, some cash in destination's currency - if traveling abroad - and some amount in traveler's cheques. This way, you will always have some method of payment in case of an emergency.
7 - Know Your Embassy's Location And Phone Numbers
Emergencies never warn before they happen. Traveling is no different and emergencies will occur no matter how many precautions you took. That is why we recommend purchasing travel insurance. If you purchased travel insurance; we recommend saving "local numbers" of your insurer's customer service.
If your emergency is not life-threatening, you should call your travel insurance company first. They are experts in handling nonlife-threatening emergencies. If you did not purchase travel insurance, then you need to save and contact your Embassy's phone number and address. Here is the list of the United States and United Kingdom embassies, consulates, diplomatic missions, and high commissions around the world.
8 - Make A List Of Everything You Packed
Let's not get this confused with the list of items you should pack. We wrote a whole blog about the list of items you should pack for every vacation. This point means exactly what it says, "make a list of everything you packed." This used to be an old trick to deter luggage handlers from pilfering valuable items from checked luggage. Pilfering still happens, but the list also serves many other purposes.
First, it does deter baggage handlers from pilfering your valuable items. Second, it makes you start remembering items you forgot to pack. Third, it helps you check your items before you start blaming on baggage handlers, or airlines.
Bonus point: It helps you itemize all your missing valuables while filling out insurance or airline's lost baggage claim forms. Make a list specific to each luggage piece, and photocopy all lists. Place one in each piece of checked luggage on top of packed items, and keep photocopies in your hand carry for records.
9 - Research Your Destination
When we say, research your destination; it does not mean tours and attractions, things to do, or places to stay. You should have done all this research while planning your vacation. What we mean here is to do research on weather conditions, culture - extremely important, local customs and laws - also very important, transportation, and hospital locations.
The first thing that will hit you right outside the airport is weather - like it did to us in Seattle after returning from Dubai. Be prepared. The second thing you will observe is culture, customs, and local laws. What you do in your home country or town will not necessarily be acceptable at your destination.
During a trip to Denver, twoGlampers got some nasty stares when we chanted, "Rock Chalk Jayhawk," at Stanley Hotel's bar in Estes Park. The third thing you will need is transportation. Please have a look at our post, Travel Resources, for the apps you may need for transportation.
Research and save hospital locations nearest to your hotel/resort, attractions you will visit, and activities you will do. Unless you are in the United States, or Europe, not many countries have 911 or 999 service that will come to your aid in ten minutes. You may have to travel to the hospital by yourself.
Bonus tip: Check with your health insurance company if they provide health benefits outside your country. If you do not have health insurance like in Europe, or your health insurance company does not provide benefits abroad, then we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Health care costs can add up pretty fast, especially if you are visiting the United States.
10 - Budget More Than What You Think You Will Spend
twoGlampers are not financial advisors. We cannot advise you on how much to spend per day while traveling. The budget you allocate not only depends on your destination, but also on the time of the season, and length of your stay. What we can tell you is this, the amount of spending money you budgeted, for your vacation, will not be sufficient unless you added an additional 10 to 25 percent of the total amount to your budget.
For instance, if you think $1,000 will be sufficient spending money for your seven days trip; add another $100 to $250 to it. We learned this lesson the hard way when we paid $150 for one room service meal, in Dubai. We originally budgeted $100 per day for at least two meals for two people. Vacation is to enjoy and relax, and not to pay credit card bills for next six months after your glamping. A small planning goes a long way.
Millions of people take vacations every year. Only 37% of travelers think about their next trip weekly to several times a month, and 30% travelers would take a trip when they were not planning to. In addition, 60% claim a trip was their largest discretionary purchase - more than home improvements, financial investments, or health related products. (Google, 2016). Yet, most of us fail to actively and effectively protect our largest discretionary purchase.
Only 21% travelers purchase travel insurance. We bet 90% percent of us don't even bother to write down the embassy or consulate contact information at the destination, let alone knowing about the STEP program. Many of us have arrived with lost luggage only to find out that we had no clue about what exactly we packed in that piece of luggage. It has happened to us also. That is why to remind us and to help you we came up with this list of things to do we often forget while planning our dream vacation.
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