In the excitement before travelling abroad, you may forget about important steps to take before you leave. It’s essential to alert certain people and places that you’ll be leaving the country. Here are four things you should do before any international trip.
1. Travel Alert: Notify Your Bank
- Tell your bank you want to set up a travel alert. Share what countries you are traveling to, your dates of travel, and the bank cards you will use such as a credit card or ATM card.
- Remember to tell the bank all the countries you may travel to, even if it’s just briefly. For example, you may have a stopover in a country and make a credit card purchase at that airport.
- Your bank will put a notice on your banking accounts and alert you if they see any unusual or fraudulent activity.
- The bank will give you an emergency number to call if your cards get lost or stolen.
Travel Alert Tip: Email yourself your bank information so you can access it abroad. Change your credit card number by a few digits so you don’t leave an electronic trail. For example, add your favorite number to the first, middle, and last digits of the credit card number.
2. Travel Alert: Call Your Doctor
- Contact your healthcare provider to ask about any immunizations or medicines you may need. Ask if your doctor can provide these items or if you need to go to a travel clinic.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a complete list of destinations with recommendations for health and safety. Sort by the type of traveler you are such as “pregnant” or “with children.”
- Call your health insurance company to ask about coverage for travel-related immunizations and medicines as well as healthcare coverage for the country you are travelling to.
- Pack copies and email yourself the prescriptions, proof of vaccinations, and your health insurance card.
Travel Alert Tip: The CDC provides a Healthy Travel Packing List customized to each country. It includes suggestions for over-the-counter medicines, supplies to prevent illness or injury, and first aid kit items.
3. Travel Alert: Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
- The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service provided by the U.S. Department of State. It is simple to enroll on the STEP site.
- The STEP program alerts the U.S. Embassy about your travel plans so it can provide assistance if needed. This may include helping friends and family in the U.S. to contact you in an emergency.
- You’ll receive ongoing safety and security information from STEP about the country you are travelling to leading up to and during your visit.
- Depending on your destination country, you may also receive messages about interesting events. For example, they invited me to a July 4th celebration at the U.S. Embassy in an African country.
Travel Alert Tip: If you’re a frequent international traveler, create an account on the STEP site to save time when enrolling each of your trips.
4. Travel Alert: Contact Your Friends and Family
- It’s important that others know where you’ll be in the world in case there are any urgent situations that arise. Select trusted and reliable friends or family members.
- Share your itinerary with them. This should include details about dates/times, tour companies, accommodations, and flights.
- Tell them the best way to get in touch with you if needed, whether if it’s by cell phone, email, or contacting your hotel. Include any country calling codes.
- Leave physical copies of your passport and other important documents with a friend and family member and have them store it in a secure place.
Travel Alert Tip: Ask your friends and family to not post about your trip on social media. This alerts criminals that you are not at home for an extended period of time and may lead to break-ins or burglaries.
Do you remember to put on travel alerts? How do you feel about these tips? Let us know in the comments down below!
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