Get ready for your next vacation with this travel prep checklist, which covers everything from flight price alerts to baggage restrictions.
Vacation season is upon us! Check out these tips and tricks to try prior to your next vacation!
- Set flight price alerts & be flexible. Set alerts on TripAdvisor, Google Flights, Skyscanner, etc., to tell you when prices drop for your preferred route or destination. Remember that not all airlines are included in alerts. Be flexible with your travel dates and times to get the best deals. Book no later than 3 weeks before you travel, or the prices will increase. Best prices are available from 3 months to 30 days before you travel.
- Watch out for hidden fees. Low cost flights may charge for full-size carry-ons, checked bags, in-flight entertainment, being able to choose your seats, etc. Book with a credit card rather than a debit card, as you may get protection for lost baggage, delays, etc.
- Download the airline app. This will give you access to online check-in, flight alerts, etc.
- Check for health considerations. Will you need vaccinations or booster shots? Keep any prescriptions, contact lenses and eyeglasses in your carry-on. Keep prescriptions on their original packaging. Check to see whether or not your US prescription medication is illegal in your destination country.
Get travel insurance. Many US healthcare policies include emergency coverage for international trips, but you will usually be required to pay first, then get reimbursed. A separate travel insurance could cover medical evacuation (approx. $100,000), trip interruption or cancellation, and lost baggage. You may need special provisions for extreme or dangerous sports (e.g. skiing, diving, jet skiing, paragliding, and bungee jumping).
- Cash or credit? In most cases, a mixture of cash (local currency and US currency to exchange) and using a card will be the best option, with a few caveats. Check the fees on your cards for foreign transactions – some have no fees, others can be quite high with a per-transaction fee plus a percentage of each sale. Ordering local currency before you go will be useful for when you land, but the exchange rate could be high. Use debit cards at ATM machines abroad, as credit cards incur interest for cash withdrawals as soon as you make the transaction. It may be worth paying ATM fees to have peace of mind about not carrying large sums of cash.
- Download a currency conversion app. These work offline, useful when you don’t have cell coverage.
- Check your phone plan. Check the charges for international coverage, which can be quite high. If you want to use your phone only in an emergency, leave it in airplane mode. Set your data roaming to ‘Off’ to stop your phone automatically updating email, texts, and apps. You can then access these features when you are in a wifi zone. If your provider is too expensive, buy a local SIM card to use in your handset. Remember to keep it safe until you return to the US.
- Check baggage restrictions. Check the carry-on and checked bags size and weight requirements for the airline or airlines you will be travelling with, particularly if you have multiple flights with different airlines. Long haul flights may allow both a carry-on that goes in the overhead lockers and a personal bag that fits underneath the seat in front of you. Remember that the one you must meet is the requirements with the airline you check-in with. Detailed information about what you can take with you or bring back can be found on the US Transportation and Security Administration’s website.
- Look ahead, plan activities and events. Check out your hotel or Airbnb via Google Street View. Research how you will get from the airport to your destination. Look at YouTube for reviews or recommendations by fellow travelers. Guided tours are a great introduction to a new city or area and particularly useful if you are traveling solo. If a particular activity is popular, see if you can book in advance online.
- Set flight price alerts – be flexible on date and time of travel for the best deals.
- Watch our for hidden airline fees – cheap tickets may mean additional fees.
- Download the airline app – will help with online check-in, travel updates.
- Check for health considerations – do you need to update your vaccinations?
- Get travel insurance.
- Take a combination of cash (local and US currency) and cards to pay for purchases.
- Download a currency converter app.
- Check your phone plan.
- Check baggage restrictions.
- Look ahead, plan activities and events – check reviews online, book popular experiences in advance.