This is my personal list of things to do before I leave for a trip. You may think some of these items denote a neurotic traveler – but I like to call it “cautious”.
Prepare Your Documents
- Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months past your return date (most countries require this).
- Make two copies of all your credit cards and your driving license and passport. Keep a copy at home. Take a copy with you.
- If you will be driving in Italy, get your IDP (International Driving Permit). I am not sure how necessary it is in other European countries, but in Italy it is required by law. Check with your Automobile Association for more information:
- Get all your booking documents organized for the trip. I make a file folder with all my documents for each booking and keep them in the order we will be needing them.
- Print out the information from your country on what to do if your passport is lost or stolen:
– US State Department (Lost and Stolen U.S. Passports Abroad)
– Passport Canada (Lost or stolen passports and travel documents)
– UK Passport Service (Lost & Stolen Passports)
– Australian Government – Passports (Lost or stolen passport)
Make a Very Detailed Itinerary
- I write a complete itinerary with all the addresses, directions and contact numbers that I will need for every place I am going. I even include contact information for people I am planning to meet on the trip. This way you will always have all the important information you need in one place.
- Make a copy of the itinerary for each person traveling.
- Leave an abbreviated copy for the person who will be looking after things for you at home.
- Go to www.maporama.com or another trip planning web site and print out driving directions for all you main drives for the trip.
Make Sure Your Money Works!
- You do not need travelers checks. We stopped using travelers checks a few years ago and now rely on ATM cards for cash on our trips.
- Many ATMs in Europe can only deal with a 4 digit PIN that does not start with zero. Check that your PIN will work in Europe. Use each ATM card once before you leave to be sure they are working and you have your PIN. We always travel with ATM cards on three separate accounts (but two would probably do).
- Contact the bank that issued your ATM cards and tell them you will be traveling.
- Contact your credit card companies to tell them you will be traveling.
- Order foreign currency from your bank so you don’t arrive with no cash. We always do this, just in case we can’t find an ATM immediately. If we have to pay in cash for your first vacation rental, we get that cash while in the US and bring it with us, so we know we will have it.
- We also travel with about $500 of US currency (in $100 bills) as emergency money.
Before you leave – Reconfirm Everything!
A couple of weeks before you leave, reconfirm all your travel arrangements. Usually these were made months before the trip, so it is comforting to have an email from each place reconfirming your reservation.
- Call the airline to make sure your flights have not changed, to verify your seating and request any special meals.
- Email, phone or fax all your hotels and vacation rentals to confirm your dates.
- Check your car rental agency to see if they have lower prices (AutoEurope will reissue your booking if the price is lower).