I’ve been traveling non-stop the last three months, and I’ve come to realize that preparing to travel is one of the things I dread most right behind cleaning bathrooms. Bleh!
After so many trips, getting ready to leave my house has pretty much become second nature. Now that I have a doggie au pair, dropping my two off with my dad or brother is one less thing to worry about. But before I can grab my passport and my overstuffed bags, there are just some things that I must do before heading to the airport.
Adjust the Mobile Phone Plan
If traveling internationally, this could be a costly thing to ignore. I’ve heard horror stories of four-digit cell phone bills. If you’re like me then you’re addicted to your smart phone. If I use it like when I’m at home, there will certainly be costly surprise waiting. Not only do incoming and outgoing calls cost more when traveling abroad, but so do text messages and data. Data is the main culprit when it comes to a high bill.
I protect myself against exorbitant bills when I travel by checking with my carrier for their international calling discounts, text messaging, and data plans. Normally I add them for my trip and cancel them when I get back. The cost is often prorated. Even though my bill is higher because of the additional services, it still doesn’t equate to what I would have to pay had I not added them.
Another way I am able to cut down on my mobile phone bill when traveling abroad is to buy a cheap phone and a SIM card in the country I’m visiting. I use companies like SimSmart PrePaid for an inexpensive way to make phone calls while in Europe. Having a spare phone with a pre-paid SIM card has saved me a fortune over the years.
Take Care of the Mail
I have a slight paranoia when it comes to my mail. I don’t like it left in the box since that’s pretty much a sign to thieves indicating I’m not home. I always make sure it’s taken care of prior to leaving town. If I’ll be gone for a short time then I’ll have a neighbor pick it up. For longer trips, I’ll stop my mail with the post office. They can hold delivery from three to thirty days. I can choose to pick up the accumulated mail in person or they will bring it to me. I simply grab a yellow mail hold form at the post office or do it online. It’s that easy. The only hard part is sifting through all my stupid junk mail.
Contact Financial Institutions
Last year I was in Las Vegas and I forgot to create a travel notification for my debit card. After I lost all my money at the blackjack table, I made a trip to the ATM. This should have been an easy task, but the withdrawal was flagged as suspicious activity and my account was frozen. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with the bank getting my account unlocked. Luckily I was still within the country. If this occurred internationally it would’ve been more difficult.
It’s so important to create travel notifications with any credit or debit cards you plan on using on your trip. Basically you’re letting the companies know when and where you will be traveling. By doing this, banks will be less likely to look at your activity as suspicious when your card is being used in the places you’ve designated. Always get the emergency contact number for the country you’re visiting just in case. If you’re traveling domestically, the number on the back of the card should suffice.
Nobody likes to get bills, but a late charge makes them that much worse. I pay all bills that will come due while I’m gone prior to departure. If a particular bill requires being paid by check then I stick it in the mail. Although, I pay about 95% of my bills online so it’s pretty easy. For varying bills like electricity, I get an email with the amount due and then I pay the bill online. For fixed bills like insurance, I will schedule a payment. Automatic withdrawal is a traveler’s best friend.
Even though I’m a total ball of stress prior to leaving, I know that if I’ve taken care of these four things then I’ll have less to worry about and my trip will be that much more enjoyable.
What are your must-dos prior to travel?