10 Things You Must Do Before You Leave the Country

passport2I hate to say it, but I can be a naïve traveler sometimes. If I was out of the country and my passport was stolen, I’d probably have a devil of a time getting back into the U.S. Given summer is such a busy time for international travel, I put together the list below of 10 things you must do before leaving the country to help you and me better prepare for our next journeys abroad.

1. Make Two Copies of Your Passport. Keep one copy with you in a separate place from your passport. Leave the second at home with a friend or family member along with your travel itinerary.

2. Take Extra Credit Cards Out of Your Wallet. I have a debit card, an Am Ex card and a Visa card (for times when merchants won’t take Am Ex). Anything else is unnecessary and will be one more card you need to deal with if your wallet is stolen.

3. Write Down “If Lost or Stolen” Phone Numbers. Keep with you the phone numbers to call if your credit or debit card is lost or stolen. This will save you a lot of time and hassle in trying to track these down while away.

4. Take Off Your Jewelry. No need to be flashy while abroad. I always leave my engagement ring, for example, at home when I travel (anywhere, not just overseas).

5. Double-Check Entry Requirements. Make sure you know whether or not you need a visa to enter a foreign country. No need to be stopped at the border or at the airport for failing to have proper documentation. Keep your visa and passport inside a sturdy passport holder or passport wallet.

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6. See a Notary Public. If you plan to travel abroad with your child, but without your child’s other parent, draw up a document for the other parent to sign and have notarized stating it is okay for you to take this child out of the country. This is good to have just in case.

7. Call Your Bank. Let your bank and credit card companies know that you’ll be out of the country. It’s easier to let them know ahead of time than for them to take extra precautions and shut your card(s) down for potentially suspicious overseas activity.

8. Add Emergency Contact Information to Your Passport. A few pages into your passport you’ll find a “Personal Data and Emergency Contact” page. Fill this out in pencil to make it easier for your passport to be returned to you if lost.

9. Check Your Passport Expiration Date. Many countries will not let you enter if your passport expires within six months (or less) of your entry date. The moment you plan to travel overseas, check on the expiration date and renew your passport as soon as you can.

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10. Call Your Car Insurance Company. If you plan to drive abroad, you may need an insurance card specific to that country. For example, we needed to request a Canadian Insurance Card before driving around in Montreal and Ottawa last week. It’s also good to find out what your insurance provider will and will not cover on overseas rental cars.

My best tip for you, however, may be to get a good neck support pillow. Overseas flights are long and less than comfortable, so you’ll thank yourself for anything you can do to help you sleep on a plane. Good luck!

Photo Credit: J Aaron Farr

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, the views and opinions expressed here are my own.