How to Avoid Common Travel Headaches Before You Even Leave the House


Plan ahead, pack wisely, and avoid kicking yourself later. (Photo: Edouard Bonnin/Stocksy)

By Marybeth Bond

Even the most experienced travelers forget important items sometimes. That’s why, after years of traveling for work and for pleasure, I’m still making lists of things to pack and do before I hit the road. To make your next trip trouble-free, bookmark this last-minute to-do list, and avoid common travel headaches.

1. Call your credit card company to add a “Travel Alert” to your account. That way, when the bank sees ATM debits and credit card charges from overseas they’ll accept them. Also remember to ask what your daily limit is for ATM withdrawals.


Make sure your cell phone is ready to handle overseas calls, texts, selfies, and Skyping. (Photo: Lumina/Stocksy)

2. Call your cell phone carrier and add an international plan. The charge can be pro-rated, so make a note to call and cancel it as soon as you get home. Most importantly, ask how much each minute will cost if you call from your destination to the US and how much text messages will cost (keep in mind that Canada can be considered “overseas”). If you plan to use Skype or another internet-based services, then turn off the phone (use Airplane Mode), or you’ll be charged minutes for every phone message and text sent to you.

Related: Save your data — Cheap Ways to Text and Call While Traveling

3. Go to the bank and get lots of crisp, clean $1 bills to use for tips and shopping (helpful when the vendor doesn’t have change). I take a couple hundred dollars in US currency, which I keep in my money belt or lock in my suitcase in my room if a safe isn’t available


Make sure to have a backup copy of your passport info just in case. (Photo: kayyc/Twenty20)

4. Make copies of your passport and hide it in your luggage. This will make it easier to get a replacement if your original goes missing.

5. Leave copies of your credit cards with someone at home in case they are lost or stolen.


Bring a list of your medications with you when you travel in case of a medical emergency. (Photo: arty_kat/Twenty20)

6. Make a list of medications that you currently take. Write both the product name and the pharmaceutical name of the drug — in some countries your medicine may have a different name. Print out this document to stash in your luggage, and also send a copy to your smartphone. If you have a medical emergency, doctors will need to know exactly what medications you are taking.

Related: 10 Ways to Avoid Being Ripped Off While Traveling


Make a packing checklist because no one wants to find themselves abroad without a toothbrush or a charger. (Photo: Alita Ong/Stocksy)

7. Finally, double-check that you have packed all the basics. These are a few essentials I love to have but occasionally forget:

  • Charger cords for cell phone, camera, laptop

  • Nightgown

  • Toothpaste

  • Washcloth (many hotels overseas do not provide them)

  • Large safety pin or clothespin to fully close hotel curtains that, annoyingly, do not quite close in the middle

  • A rubber door stopper for added security in hotel rooms,

  • Duct tape for all sorts of repairs to broken or torn backpacks, purses, sandals, sunglasses or luggage,

  • Lots of empty zip-top bags to compartmentalize dirty clothes, a wet bathing suit, or wet soap. (Pro tip: Take a few to breakfast to salvage leftovers that can make a fabulous picnic lunch or snack for those odd times of the day when you get hungry, especially when you change time zones.)

  • A power strip so you can plug in several electronic devices when there aren’t enough conveniently located electrical outlets in a room.

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