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Travel checklist – here’s all the admin you need to do before a vacation​

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You have finally booked your next trip and can’t wait to go? Unfortunately, there are a few to-dos that are less exciting than packing and planning your itinerary. We made an overview of all the administrative things you should get on top of so that your vacation goes smoothly.

Make sure you’ll get in

It would be a shame if you arranged for a fantastic adventure that you can never experience. To ensure this won’t happen to you, look up the entry requirements of your destination. If a travel visa is necessary, research which type of visa is relevant for you. Some countries require a transit visa, even if you’re just changing flights and never leave the airport. Make sure to start this process well in advance (some countries can take three months and more to grant it). 

Many places require you to show that you have a return bus/train/plane ticket to prove you won’t overstay your welcome. Inform yourself about outbound flight requirements like this and make sure you have the return tickets ready to show. Also, check whether there are entrance fees or departure taxes to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Get your documents in order

Imagine you plan a lovely trip, just to realize your passport has expired with not enough time left to get a new one. You don’t want this to happen, so check a few months ahead of your trip whether your passport is still valid for long enough (most countries have a minimum validity). Very well-traveled folks should check whether there are pages left for new stamps.

You’ve decided to rent a car for a road trip, but have you considered whether or not your driver’s license is valid in your destination? Some governments don’t accept foreign-issued driver’s licenses. Do your homework and check the government-sponsored tourism website or the country’s official consulate website to determine whether you’re good to go with your permission. If not, you might need an International Driving Permit or an officially recognized translation of your regular driver’s license.

Fingers crossed this won’t happen, but if you lose your wallet or have some of your stuff stolen, copies of all of your essential documents come in handy. Make two copies of your passport, driver’s license, vaccinations certificates, and insurance information before setting off on your adventure and keep them in a different place than the originals. It’s also advisable to upload an emergency folder on the cloud (like Google Drive) that you can access even if all of your luggage goes missing. Include a contact sheet with your doctor’s info, bank and insurance contact, your visa, medical information, and anything else you deem relevant.

Ensure you have all of your boarding passes and booking confirmations either printed out or ready on your phone.

Sort out your finances

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We sure hope you have confirmed that you have sufficient funds to be going on your trip. It’s still worth it to look at your finances and allocate a budget for your time spent abroad. Get the TravelSpend app, so you don’t lose track of your expenses and stick to your daily or weekly allowance.

Not every banking card works abroad. Look into travel credit cards (check out this list of top travel credit cards for 2020 for the best deals) to make sure you’re never stranded anywhere without a penny. If you want to use your regular banking card from home, make sure you’ll be able to use it abroad, and alert your bank of your travel plans – they can otherwise flag your withdrawals as fraudulent.

Some people like to obtain a small amount of cash in the foreign currency at home, so they don’t have to stress about getting money out when arriving. If you’d like to do this, look into it a few weeks before as banks don’t have all currencies in stock and might need to order the money.

Last but not least, you want to be able to relax on your vacation. Pay the necessary bills in advance, and you won’t have a single thing to worry about!

Prioritize your health

First, you need to research which vaccinations are required or advised when traveling to your destination. Visit a travel clinic if you are not sure which ones you should get. Update your vaccination certificate.

It’s no fun to think about accidents or medical emergencies when planning a vacation, but if the worst does happen, you’ll be happy you did. Check which costs your health insurance covers when traveling abroad. Owners of a European Health Insurance Card have access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay under the same conditions and cost as people insured in all participating countries. However, the EHIC does not render travel insurance unnecessary, as it doesn’t cover private healthcare or associated costs such as mountain rescue or repatriation. Adequate travel insurance ensures you’re on the safe side and puts your mind at ease.

Make sure to refill your prescriptions. You don’t want to end up finishing a blister of necessary medication while in a hostel in the middle of nowhere. Pack a little first aid and medical kit for your holiday. Your doctor can advise you on what to bring, depending on your health and the place you are visiting. You can easily buy most medicine abroad, and sometimes at a cheaper price point. But believe us, you’ll be glad to have some things like insect repellent or diarrhea medicine available straight away when needed.

Finally, inform your travel buddies about all of your allergies. People don’t label foods for allergens everywhere, and it’s good to have others looking out for you. You could also print out an allergy list in the local language to communicate what you can’t eat.

Getting ready to go

Check which luggage size you’re allowed (if you are flying) and make a packing list. You’ll find many checklists online that ensure you won’t forget anything essential. If the place you are traveling to uses a different electrical outlet system, pack an adapter. Charge your power bank and download offline maps and other useful apps. Program ICE (in case of emergency) numbers into your phone.

There is already a lot of admin surrounding your travels, but it is crucial not to forget about the place you will come home to afterward. Unplug your electronics, clean out your fridge, so you don’t accidentally create a new organism, and arrange for a pet sitter or plant care if necessary. 

And off you go – have a safe trip!