Avoiding Troubles on your Trips Abroad

As we prepare for our trip to Italy (8 days away) I wanted to share a couple of pre-travel ‘musts’ that I make sure to take care of before going overseas.

1) Backup your Documents and bring hard copies – Make sure that you make a copy of your passport (color, clear copy), credit cards (front and back), insurance cards and any other travel documents (itineraries, hotel booking information, train/plane schedules and tickets), etc… just in case you wind up losing something along the way. In addition, it is always a good idea to also scan all these documents into a PDF and email them to yourself and one or two people (not on the trip with you) that you trust. In an instance where your other backups are missing you should be able to rely on your trusted friend to come through with the documentation.

2) Register with the Embassy – You can do it quickly and easily through this link. If for whatever reason there are troubles in the country you are visiting this simple step will make the ordeal much less of a nightmare for you if you can safely make it to the Embassy.

3) Notify your Credit Card and Insurance companies of your plans – Nothing is more irritating then sitting in a foreign restaurant having your card get declined only to find out its because of ‘suspicious’ activities which happened to be your purchases in an unexpected area (i.e. where your traveling). I love the credit card companies diligence in monitoring transactions so while this is a headache I’d rather have it this way then come back from vacation and learn someone rang up $2,500 in baby toys (true story happened after our honeymoon in Vegas and needless to say that card was cancelled/account closed quick since they didn’t ‘suspect’ that purchasing behavior – no kids, never bought a baby toy I don’t think – suspicious).

4) Know the Conversion Rates – They will change during your trip but not enough to make the math that much different. Knowing the approximation will help you know whether you are being ripped off or not. Currently $1.30/Euro…was hoping it’d drop a little lower but haven’t been so fortunate yet.

5) Exchange Cash and make sure you always have the appropriate currency – Some places won’t take credit cards so this is always wise. ATMs abroad will rip you off – they know they have you if your bank doesn’t have a branch there – so make sure you’ve always got a little cash. Also, recognize that some credit cards have foreign exchange fees of 3 – 5% of purchases so this could get pricey. Always good to know which cards do/don’t charge these fees before you go so that you can have one ‘prime’ credit card in case the cash is getting a little short and you are afraid of running out. For example, my American Airlines Citi Visa has foreign charges while my Hyatt Chase does not have fees abroad…therefore, most (if not all) will be run through the Hyattt Chase card.

6) Get a charger adapter – Electronics often don’t use the plugs abroad due to differences in the amount of voltage so it is important to have one (or preferably more) converters so none of your toys get low.

I’ll probably post some more as I go through my ‘mental list’ prepping for the trip but that’s what I’ve been thinking about/prepping for this week.

Photo of the Day – With Open Arms

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It’s been awhile since I posted a Notre Dame photo – football season is only 140 days away and the way the Tigers bullpen is blowing leads early in the season I’m going to be spending more time in August on college and pre-season NFL football then I want to!

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