So, you’ve got your fancy vacay all planned and you’re excitedly counting down to it. Here are a few tips to consider before you travel; tips that have helped me personally.

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1. Currency
Personally, I don’t like to carry a lot of cash on me. I prefer to take my card when I travel, and either get cash at the ATM or use it for payments abroad. However, if you’re traveling to a less developed country, this is probably not a good idea.
You can never be too sure of how well the infrastructure works. But if you’re traveling to a developed country, I personally suggest you take your card with you, and then take a bit of cash. My general rule is $100. Make sure you have most of that in the local currency! That usually gets you from the airport to your hotel, if you need to take a taxi, train, bus, etc. If you have a layover at another airport, you can likely pay for any purchases at that airport with your card. Just make sure you research the currency where you’re going, figure out the exchange rates so you can plan accordingly, and inform your bank that you’ll be out of the country so that they don’t block your card for ‘suspicious activity’. Bank of America did that to me once, and it wasn’t pretty. I was stuck without a working card, and they had to mail the new one to my registered home address, so there was no way to get it while I was away. I had to transfer money from my account to my friend’s and the have her withdraw from the ATM for me. So anytime I have to travel, I do a ‘travel advisory’ with them. With GTBank [Nigeria] my card one time didn’t work throughout a 10 day trip. Not at ATMs, not at POS terminals. I sent that an e-mail, and it was fixed. So I’d say notify the before your trip as well, to ensure that your card is working fine. Nobody had an explanation for why it didn’t work.

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2. Airport Transportation
Research the options well before you leave. Can you take a train from the airport to your hotel? What’s the easiest way to get to your hotel? You can also ask your hotel in advance, how to get there, if they’re not picking you up. Are you sure they have airport taxis? How cheap or expensive are they? Do you need to have exact change? Can you pay with your card? Etc. Also research the transportation outside of the airport. Can you get around easily on the train? Or will you need to rent a car?

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3. Travel Adapter
Aka life savers. Just buy one that you can use in most regions, rather than having to buy a new one when you have to visit a different region. Please make sure you research what adapter you need in advance. I once made the mistake of assuming that the one I used in London would work in Paris. Usually though, the hotel might be able to get you one. However, our hotel in Paris wasn’t able to. We had to go in search of adapters at night. 

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4. Research Activities Ahead
But please do not restrict yourself to what you find on someone’s blog or TripAdvisor. It’s good to have an idea of what’s available at your destination, but be open and flexible. When you get there, explore a little on your own and you just might find things you like that weren’t recommended online. Also research any festivals, events, etc. that might be happening there while you’ll be there. 

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5. Got an iPhone?
I’d recommend that you upload your boarding passes and hotel bookings on ‘Passbook’. It makes my life so much easier! Also, get an app for translations if they speak a different language at your destination, and you can download a city guide as well. I always have Kayak handy for impromptu trips from my destinations; I swear they always give me the best deals on flights. The Hotels and Booking apps are also great to have. Google Maps is also invaluable. If you’re like me and have no sense of direction, you’ll need it to walk back to your hotel every time you wander off. Also, please remember to back up your phone, and clear out memory space for photos and videos. Nothing is more annoying than trying to catch a moment and your phone telling you ‘no memory space’. The same goes for your camera. 

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6. Carry On
If you’re checking in most of your things, please make sure you have enough clothes in your cabin luggage to last you a day [or two] after you’ve landed. I remember when I traveled to Chile and they lost my bag. That was probably the last time I checked in my luggage if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. They eventually found my bag four days into my trip [that only lasted 5]. I basically had to go out and buy new everything. All I had on me were the [now dirty] clothes on my back. Not a pleasant experience. Another tip, if you’re checking your luggage in and it’s a regular black or navy type suitcase, put an identifier on it so you can easily find it at the baggage claim. When I traveled with black boxes, I tied red ribbons on each one. 

What other tips would you add to the list for pre-trip preparations?

ps. Please vote for me!

D. xxx

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