• Before takeoff, follow this international travel checklist

    2013-08-23

    For those who have wanderlust, there's nothing more exciting than booking international travel. Unfortunately, a few small mistakes can turn your dream vacation into an absolute nightmare. Before you finalize your itinerary, take a look at this checklist to make sure you've done everything necessary to prepare for your getaway.

    Do you need a visa?
    Traveling to another country is as easy as showing up at the airport with a passport and a plane ticket, right? Think again. Many countries require you to have a visa if you plan on staying in the nation for an extended period of time. Fortunately, it's often easy to apply for a visa online, so you can take care of that step by performing a simple web search and filling out a form.

    Have you gotten in touch with your banks?
    Banks today go out of their way to prevent identity theft, which is a good thing, unless they cancel your card while you're overseas. Often, if a financial institution sees that you have withdrawn money or made purchases in another country, they will automatically cancel your card. Nothing is worse than trying to get a new card sent to a foreign country, so give your bank a call ahead of time and let them know what your travel plans are.

    Have you checked exchange rates?
    Always check the exchange rate of the country you're visiting more than once. Economies fluctuate daily, so the rates you see the day you book your journey may be very different from those in place when you arrive. Some websites, like XE.com, make it easy for you to quickly view how the dollar is holding up compared to international currencies.

    Did you do your basic research?
    If you're traveling to a destination like London or Dublin, you probably won't be in for too much culture shock. However, visiting destinations like Dubai or Taiwan will likely be quite a surprise, especially if you don't do some research ahead of time. Find a few online forums or pick up some travel books that will make you aware of any customs or cultural differences you may face upon you're arrival. Otherwise, you might end up offending the locals, which is a definite mistake. It's also a good idea to brush up on the national politics of the nation you're visiting, since people will likely expect you to know at least the names of the national leaders.

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