Things to do before your International Trip

With increasing number of people travelling abroad, this article will give you a checklist of things to do before your International trip.

Initial Planning

Many of us start planning for our International trip months in advance. Just remember following guidelines while planning at this stage

  • Check validity of your passport. Most countries require your passport to be valid for atleast six month from your travel date. So if your passport is going to expire, renew it.
  • Shortlist your destination
  • Compare flight prices in intended month by checking on Google Flights or Sky Scanner. This will give you a rough idea about flight costs. Use price trend feature of Google Flight to know average price
  • If you have zeroed in on destination, also try to shortlist the hotels in advance. This way, you can get higher discounts on booking Flight + Hotels together.
  • Book your flight tickets when you get a good deal.
    • Google Flight / Sky Scanner sometime route you to external websites where payment is made in foreign currency. Remember to add credit card foreign transaction charges while comparing final price
    • If you want to pay via INR, pay via India apps like MakeMyTrip, ClearTrip, Akbar Travel etc
  • You can buy Travel Insurance later also. So it is OK if you do not buy Travel Insurance bundled with flight tickets from travel agents.

Now that you have booked flight tickets, focus on completing other important stuff.

1 – 2 months before travel

  • Apply for credit cards offering you domestic and international lounge access. You can rest and also enjoy free meals while waiting for flight boarding.

Related => Click here to read my article on best travel credit cards offering International lounge access and low foreign currency markup charges

  • Hotel Booking
    • Finalize your hotels and book them
    • Unless your itinerary is rigid, try booking refundable rooms which can be cancelled without cost till few days before arrival
      • This will give you flexibility of altering your hotels in case you get better discount later
      • You can also plan your travel impromptu with this. You will have flexibility to stay more at places you like and less at places you don’t like
    • Recommended timeline for hotel booking is 1 – 2 months before travel unless you are traveling in peak season
    • I often find lowest prices on one among Agoda, Makemytrip and Booking.com
    • However, for foreign countries, i had a bad experience with Booking.com. On my recent visit to Thailand, i had done couple of bookings via Booking.com. Problem is that they take card number and block the bookings. But they do not pay for the bookings. Payment has to be done at hotel reception itself. This causes problems in foreign countries where you will have to either pay in forex currency or pay extra on card usage charges.
  • Visa Requirements
    • Check Visa requirements of your destination country and arrange for required documents.
    • Check photograph requirements for Visa – background, size, angle etc.
    • Most countries will also need your accommodation details for processing Visa. Hence Hotel booking will have to be done before you can apply for Visa
    • If you need Visa before departure, check the processing time and places where you can apply for Visa
      • Accordingly, apply for Visa well in advance.
      • You may also avail services of travel agents like Makemytrip to apply for Visa.
  • Medical Requirements
    • Few countries might also require you to take vaccinations before travel.
    • Do your research and get the required vaccines on-time

2 – 3 weeks before travel

  • Shopping
    • Check weather predictions and ensure you have proper clothing according to season
    • Finish your shopping if required
  • Research
    • If possible, make a rough list places to visit and must do things in the cities you are travelling

In the week of travel

  • Documentation
    • Save soft copies of important documents including tickets/hotels/passport on local drive of your Phone. Not on google drive as you might not be able to access them if there is no internet
    • Get 2 – 3 Xerox copies of important documents and keep them in your bag/wallet where they are easily accessible. They may be useful for filling Immigration forms, buying local sim etc
    • Note local hotel address and contact number on paper or diary just in case you loose your phone/phone gets discharged
    • Keep all passport including expired one if they contain valid Visas
  • Communication
    • Send message to your hotels about expected arrival time and special requests if any (especially for meal type if you are Jain / Vegetarian)
    • Call helpline of your bank / credit card and ask them to enable foreign transactions on your card. Also get clarity on the markup they will charge for each foreign transaction
    • Inform the domestic workers and helpers especially milkman and newspaper guy
  • Currency Exchange
    • Get currency notes of destination city
    • You can get these either via agents/banks or from online sites like BookMyForex or FXKart
    • Visit bank/online sites and get Forex card if you plan to use one. Good thing about forex card is that It protects your from currency fluctuations and can be easily reloaded anytime. On the flip side, forex cards might not be accepted at smaller merchants or the merchants will levy extra fees for using cards.
  • Phone Network
    • You will require a local sim in your destination country. If possible, check mobile plans and decide in advance along with required documents. You can then purchase the same as soon as you arrive
    • If you plan to continue your India number instead of buying local sim, then enable International roaming
  • Google Account access
    • Most google accounts will have 2 factor authentication. This means that if it detects login attempt from new geography, it tries reaching to you via SMS/Call for verification. In foreign country, you might not get these SMS and Calls resulting in you not being able to access your gmail accounts.
    • Hence use the access codes and you will be able to login
    • Download access codes for your gmail accounts and keep them safe.
  • Travel
    • Download local country apps for taxi (like Uber/Ola of India). Instead of hiring cab at airport counter, use the app to book taxi from airport after reaching your destination.
    • Also find out if they have any trains connecting airport to city (like Delhi’s airport express train) and local pass purchase process.
  • Finances
    • Pay your monthly bills before you leave specially those related to credit card, electricity, phone and taxes
    • Renew any policies nearing completion
  • Purchases
    • Buy International socket as many countries have different electric point sockets
    • Buy foldable travel stool which is portable. Can be useful with small children if your trip requires long walks
    • Buy neck pillow especially if you are on a long duration flight. This will help you in getting better sleep (in economy class of course) without straining your neck.
    • Buy Power Banks for charging mobiles
  • Hand over the keys to some neighbor/trustworthy source
    • Will enable them to open house in emergency like water leakage, theft etc
    • You can also request them to water the plants once in a while
  • Buy Travel Insurance
    • Compare policies on Policy Bazaar and Cover Fox and buy one suiting your needs
    • Remember that the few credit card companies also offer you free travel insurance if you book flights with their cards. So cross-check with customer care once before finalizing on how much travel insurance you want to buy
  • Download Language Translator app.
  • Vegetarians travelling to South East Asia => Pack some instant Maggi cup noodles/Theplas. These can be used when you are hungry and not able to find food suiting you
  • Check weather of place and pack accordingly
  • Get photographs clicked for Visa on Arrival
  • Web check-in to your flight if airlines allows it
  • Enable international priority lounge access cards so that they can be used while return
  • Prepare medicine bag with essential medicines
  • Complete Outstation Cab booking if your flight is from different city.
  • Download some playlists / audio books on your phone so that you can enjoy them even in offline/aeroplane mode.
    • These will be better than physical books / kindle as you save space and wont have to strain your eyes
    • Choose from Storytel or Amazon Audibles, you can choose the audio book you always wanted to read but never had time
  • If you are travelling for more than 1 month
    • Get temporary disconnection of services with recurring bill – Phone Number, DTH, Wifi
    • Unplug connection of car battery to avoid it from being discharged due to no use

During Travel

  • Wear layered clothing so that you can remove them if you feel hot
  • Keep credit cards which allow you domestic airport lounge access. Use them to refresh/recharge yourself

Following these will help you both enjoy your trip and not miss anything important.

Bon Voyage!! 🙂

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Parul Singhal

    Very informative article!! Thanks a lot for penning your wisdom and sharing with us.

  2. Dummkopf lockerer

    I follow your blog from germany.

    1) Amazon audible is free . So create a new account and get free audio book
    2) See if airport has some free offers and pre-order food in some cases. It is cheaper.

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