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1. Make copies of your travel documents
We don’t plan on losing your passport during the holidays, but it’s a good idea to make a few backup copies just in case: one to take with you and one to leave at home.

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2. Print hard copies of your itinerary and confirmations
Don’t assume WiFi will always be available to check your itinerary or trip confirmations; always carry a printed copy with you just in case.

I can’t tell you how many times hotels have messed up my reservations and tried to overcharge me. Having a printed copy on hand will be in your favor.

I also like to put a copy of my contact information and itinerary in my luggage in case it gets lost, so whoever retrieves it knows how to contact me. You can also include this information on your baggage tag.

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3. Check travel advisories / register your trip
Depending on where you are traveling, there may be unexpected travel advisories that you should be aware of. Sometimes your travel or health insurance may not be valid if there is a current travel advisory.

You can also register your trip with your country’s embassy so they know where you will be in an emergency.

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4. Call your bank
Before you leave, it is important that you call your bank (the number on the back of your bank card) to let them know you will be traveling. This allows you to use your card to make purchases abroad.

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5. Have some emergency cash on hand
The fact that you have your bank cards available does not mean that they will be accepted in all establishments. It’s good to have some extra money on hand in the local currency, especially for small purchases.

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man in airport and airplane in the sky
6. Determine what documents you need to enter the country
Most countries require a passport that is valid for six months or more after the date of return. You may also require a visa or special documents to enter the country.

For example, I needed to buy a visa to enter Turkey earlier this year.

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7. Check with your doctor or insurance provider
Before you travel, it’s best to check with your doctor or insurance provider to see if you’ll need any prescription medications or vaccinations before your trip.

You may also require a note from your doctor allowing you to bring certain prescription medications into the country.

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8. Find out what you can/cannot bring into the country
The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination and discover that some of the items you packed are not allowed in the country. This could be seeds or certain foods. Check ahead to avoid unnecessary interruptions.

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9. Check the weather forecast before leaving
I like to do this about a week in advance, then just a day in advance to make sure I pack properly. If it’s cold at home but you’re traveling to a warm climate, chances are you won’t need to pack a heavy jacket.

Also, rain may show up in the forecast, which means you’ll need an umbrella. Check ahead so you can pack accordingly.

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10. Research local customs and etiquette where you are visiting
It’s always a good idea to do some reading on local customs, culture, and etiquette so you know what to expect while traveling internationally.

Sometimes a hand gesture in one country may have a different meaning in another country; you may need to dress more conservatively than in your home country; tipping policies may also vary; either way, you don’t want to do something silly that could have been avoided if you had done your research beforehand.

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11. Research the events and festivals happening while you’re in town
It’s good to know if there are important events going on while you’re in town. You may want to attend a concert, a festival, or generally stay on top of what’s going on in the city.

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12. Flip through the guides
I know some travelers prefer not to consult travel books, but I always like to flip through them for tips, to see which sights or attractions are worth visiting, etc.

Many of them also include maps of the different neighborhoods in the city, thus allowing you to better understand the layout of the city. If you don’t want to invest in a guide, you can borrow one for free at your local library.

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13. Get adapters/converters for your electronic devices
This should be self explanatory, but not all countries have the same voltage. You can always pick one up at the airport if you forget it, but you’ll pay more there. Instead, I recommend picking up a world travel adapter before your trip.

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14. Learn some key phrases in the local language
One of the best things you can do is learn at least one keyword or phrase in the local language. Even if you don’t sound like a native, the locals will appreciate your efforts.

I found this to be especially true while in Paris. Although I was only able to say a few words, I could tell that they appreciated that I tried to communicate with them in French first before switching to English.

Also, don’t assume that everyone knows English, because this is not the case. Once you get out of the main tourist spots, fewer and fewer people speak English.

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15. Watch a video on how to use the city’s public transportation system
Most metropolitan cities are equipped with a decent public transportation system. Instead of paying the high price of taxis, try learning how to use the city’s public transport. You will save money and move around the city faster than by car.

If you decide to rent a car, check in advance if you need an international driver’s license.

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16. Determine a plan for your mobile phone
Every time I leave the country, I always turn off my mobile data and switch to airplane mode. I use the city WiFi to make calls and send text messages using apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

If you need data, talk to your phone provider ahead of time to determine the right plan for you.

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17. Buy tickets for the places you want to visit/see before you leave
Sometimes you can get a discount when you buy your tickets in advance. This also allows you to skip the ticket line and save time while on vacation.

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18. Research how to get to your hotel from the airport
To avoid paying high taxi prices, it’s a good idea to research the best way to get to your hotel from the airport. Sometimes taxis offer a flat rate that you should know beforehand in case they try to scam you.

Most options include taking a shuttle, a private car, or using the city’s public transportation.

By knowing how much each option costs and how long each option will take, you’ll be able to make a decision that fits your budget and needs.

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19. Research local tourist scams where you will be visiting
Chances are you will be able to spot a scam, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Understanding what to look for is a good idea so you can avoid falling victim to a scam.

Always keep your wits about you and your personal bags in sight at all times.

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20. Pack some over-the-counter medications and toiletries with you.
I understand that some people want to pack lightly leaving their toiletries at home, thinking they will be able to purchase them at their destination.

However, please note that some items may be difficult to find in other countries. If you’re traveling to Korea, it’ll be hard to find deodorant there, so be sure to bring some with you when you visit.

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