After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand has come roaring back and the busy summer tourism season is upon us. As you prepare to travel abroad, we wanted to share seven important ways to get ready and plan for a smoother journey.
Check your passport. The last thing you want is to get to the airport and be turned away because your passport is expired or expires within 3-6 months of your trip return date. Most countries require passports to be valid for several months AFTER your scheduled return date, so take a look and if it expires 6 months or less than when you will return, get it renewed ASAP!
Visit your doctor and/or a travel clinic at least a month before you depart. Bring your itinerary with you and have your doctor review the activities, as well as the recommended or required vaccinations for the destination. A travel medicine physician can provide specific health care expertise for your health history and needs.
- Review the packing list. If there is anything you need to buy, order early so you have time to try it on, return it if needed, and make sure it fits comfortably and there isn’t any damage. For hiking shoes especially, plan to break them in BEFORE you go! Also, consider ordering more contact lenses, medications, or other important personal items that may need to be refilled ahead of time.
- Book flights with flexibility. Airlines and airports slashed staffing and routes during the depths of the Covid-19 crisis and are struggling to keep up. Review the cancellation and change fee policy and consider adding the insurance. When possible, book early morning and direct flights, and if you have a layover, make sure there is enough time between flights, ideally 3 hours. And once you book, download the airline app and use it to check in, get updates, and plan for in-flight meals and entertainment.
- Plan for how you will communicate. WhatsApp allows you to make calls and send text messages around the world - ask your important contacts to download it too, and call or text them while you’re away for free. Google Translate is a great way to help understand and say key words and phrases. You can also allow it to use your camera to translate text and be able to read signs, maps, etc. Download these apps before you go, so you’re familiar with how to use them.
- Get Travel Insurance. No one likes paying for insurance, but you will be happy you have it if you need it! Plus, some countries require travel insurance for entry. When comparing options, confirm that the policy covers medical expenses related to Covid-19 and compare the level of coverage for post-departure benefits, including trip delay and interruption. At AGC, we use and offer travel insurance options through Travelex Insurance Services.
- Lighten your wallet. So many places and retailers now have “tap to pay” options. Just add the info for 1-2 major credit cards to your phone’s mobile wallet and try it out the next time you're checking out somewhere. And if you’re traveling with others, consider downloading the Venmo app to pay them directly for shared meals, Uber rides, or other shared expenses. While it’s always a good idea to have some local currency and emergency cash, gone are the days of traveling with cash stashed away in belts or bras.
While travel has changed a lot over the last few years, one piece of advice that never goes away is to pack plenty of patience and flexibility. Although the current travel experience may include some challenges, it is still a privilege to be able to cross oceans and explore new countries and cultures. With some advanced planning and an understanding that there may be some speed bumps along the way, you will be able to make the most of any experience and savor the time away.