General Article

Things to Do Before You Travel

Airfare, hotel accommodations, and rental cars may be the holy trinity of travel preparation, but nailing down these aspects of your vacation is only the beginning of the trip planning process. If you want to achieve a smooth, headache-free trip (and who doesn’t?), taking care of essential tasks like researching activities at your destination, managing your finances, and getting your home in order is key. Don’t leave home without accomplishing the following 10 tasks!

1. Contact the Kennel and/or House Sitter

Once you have a travel date, your first move should be to contact your pet kennel or house sitter (or any other trustworthy service) to guarantee availability. You may even want to take care of this before booking; as reader E.B. Hughes writes, “I have had to pay change fees twice since we got our dog just because the local kennel was full for one night of my trip.”

2. Take Care of “Stop” Orders and Advance Payments

Once your travel is booked, you should look into placing “stop” orders on any regularly occurring deliveries or services. These may include postal mail, newspapers, housecleaners and the like. If you want particular services to continue (such as landscaping), consider paying in advance if this is not your usual arrangement.

Many service providers allow you to place stop orders online; this is particularly the case for mail delivery and most newspapers. As many stop orders require one or two business days’ advance notice, make sure you take care of this at least three days before you travel.

3. Manage Your Cash Flow

If you’re traveling domestically, be sure to hit your own bank before leaving for your trip; that way you won’t arrive short on cash and have to immediately search for an ATM. Further, you will save on ATM fees at machines run by someone other than your own bank. Go to your bank’s website and map out any available ATM locations near your destination so you are not forced to use other banks’ machines.

If you’re traveling overseas, the most economical option is to visit an ATM as soon as you arrive in your destination and make a withdrawal in the local currency. Check the website of the airport where you’ll be arriving to make sure it has an ATM you can use. Most international airports have several, but if you’re flying to a smaller airport in a developing country, there’s no guarantee that there will be one (or that it will be working properly). In these cases, you may want to purchase some local currency ahead of time. For more details, see ATMs Abroad.

Call your bank or credit card company and let them know about your travel plans. Most banks and credit card companies keep track of spending patterns and may interpret an unexpected overseas purchase as credit card fraud. Your account could be locked if you use your card in another country without notifying your bank.

One thing you might forget, bring a match anywhere because you might need it in an emergency. Many people have ignored this trifle on their vacation trips. bring flameless lighter because it’s very safe and practical to carry anywhere.