International travel tips

Jim Ludwick, CFP®

 ·      Obtain or renew your passport way in advance.  At least three months in advance.

·      Obtain or confirm that the two credit cards you will take with you do not charge currency transaction fees.

·      Obtain a new checking account or confirm that your checking account refunds ATM fees for international withdrawals. The ATM is the best source of cash when traveling in a foreign country.

·      See if you need any immunizations or visas for your travel. There are clinics that specialize in travel preparation medicine.

·      Switch or confirm your cell plan is not too costly when traveling outside the US or North America

·      Learn how to use Skype or Zoom to communicate with others at low or no cost

·      Watch Rick Steves’ YouTube video on packing light

·      Read forums on where you plan to travel. Others have asked the same questions that are on your mind.  If not, make a posting to ask your question.

·      Book lodging on websites where you can cancel without penalty until a certain time.  Also, make sure the site doesn’t charge your credit card in advance.

·      Consider trip insurance if the ticket cost is large enough that you don’t want to lose it if you become ill or some other covered event occurs and you must change travel plans at the last minute.  The return flight might be more important to insure, if this is a budget issue.

·      Let your bank and credit card companies know you’ll be traveling to avoid declines.

·      Put as many bills as possible on automatic payment to avoid late fees.  A minimum payment on credit cards is important too.

·      If someone is picking up your mail, have them open and scan any bills to avoid those late fees.

·      Scan and copy your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, social security card, Medicare card and any other critical documents that you might need. Email them to yourself so you can download and print them out in an emergency. By the way, a copy of your passport won’t work for travel, but it will help at the US Embassy in getting a new one.

·      Let family know your travel schedule and telephone numbers for lodging or friends you will be visiting.

·      Take an extra pair of glasses, your medicine prescription if critical, and find out how to replace either before you leave on your trip.

·      Back up your pictures to the cloud so you don’t lose that great shot for whatever reason.

·      Be prepared for pickpockets by guarding your valuables or leave them home if you can.

·      Learn the emergency numbers to call. 911 is not an international number.

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