Have you just booked your next dream vacation? If so, you may be sitting back while thinking about all of the great adventures you’re going to have with your best buds. However, believing that all you have left to do is pack a few things and Uber to the airport could cause you serious grief on your trip. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before boarding that plane.

Do you have all the necessary medications?

Are you traveling to a safe place?

Have you called the credit card company?

If you have answered no to any or all of these questions, then you have some work to do before your big trip. Follow these preventative steps and make your next vacation easier and safer.

See a Doctor if You’re Going Overseas

With the excitement of going on your vacation, the last thing you will probably think about is going to see your doctor. But this is an important preventive step, especially if you are traveling out of the country. Making this appointment is a must as other countries can sometimes have diseases, including yellow fever, that we typically don’t need to worry about in America. As such, if you are not treated ahead of time, you could find yourself sick in a foreign land or bringing illness home will you. Some countries even require proof of vaccination before you can enter. Doctors recommend that you visit them at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip.

When you visit the doctor, you have to be honest about yourself and your plans. Be specific about where you are going. How is your current health? Are you getting over an illness? What vaccinations have you had in the past? Tell your doctor everything so they can give you the shots and checks that you need. Your health insurance may cover this visit, however, heed these tips if you get any surprise charges after the fact.

Tell your doctor if you know that you have a notoriously weak immune system so they can prescribe medicine. This is especially important in countries known for the spread of malaria because without medication, you can get seriously ill if you get bit by a mosquito. Some people have issues with flying or have weak stomachs. If so, inform your doctor so he can prescribe pills for altitude illness or traveler’s diarrhea. Don’t be too tough to visit the doctor. Doing so could be a lifesaver.

Know the Areas to Avoid

Regardless of where you are traveling, there will always be some places that are hospitable to guests and others that can be dangerous for a multitude of reasons. The last thing you want to do is stumble into one of these unsavory places and find yourself in a bad situation. So, take some time before your trip to research your destination thoroughly, so you know where to stay and where to avoid.

For instance, Cancun, Mexico, is a very popular destination for vacationers, and according to statistics, more American people are killed falling out of bed every year than dying in the their city. However, just because it’s one of the safer destinations in Mexico, it’s still important to exercise caution when in Cancun. Wherever you are going in the world, be sure to research their crime and safety statistics, especially the city and surrounding area you’ll be in. To start your search, go on your favorite search engine and type “how safe is BLANK,” and you will find statistics that can give you a better idea.

Regardless of where you go, it is important to be smart and safe when you travel. When you visit somewhere new, don’t draw too much attention to yourself and try to be discreet when you check maps and ask for directions.

A few other tips for safe travel:

  • Keep your friends and family updated when you go to a new place.
  • Be cautious of public Wi-Fi as hackers can use this connection to steal your identity.
  • Make copies of your important documents in digital and physical form.
  • Lock the doors and windows in your hotel room at night and when you leave.

Make a List of Everything You’ll Need

A few weeks before your vacation is set to begin, sit down and start thinking about what you need to bring with you. Begin to compose this list and then keep it somewhere easy to see so you can add items as you think of them. This list goes beyond deodorant and swimming suits. It should include items that are absolutely necessary for your safety and comfort.

As a start, if you require contact lenses, bring along an extra pair as well as your glasses. Also be vigilant about taking our your contacts before falling asleep. Especially when traveling to different time zones, you may find yourself ready to pass out when you get back to your accommodations at the end of the day, but it’s not safe to sleep in your contacts. If you find yourself too tired to keep up with contacts maintenance, utilize your glasses while traveling.  

Remember to bring any medications you need as well, including general pain relievers. You might want to pack these in your carry-on so you can’t lose them easily. If traveling out of the country, be sure to check whether your medications are legal there, and what you need to do to travel with them.

Your phone and tablet chargers should also be on your list of necessities, along with a converter if you are traveling abroad. Make sure that you have all necessary paperwork on you, including passports, driver’s license, health insurance card, and addresses to your hotel and other important destinations. If you are bringing a camera, pack it along with extra film or SD cards and batteries.

Prepare Your Finances

Regardless of if you are traveling to Paris, France or Columbus, Ohio, you will want to ensure that you have all of your finances in check. Wherever you go, you will need to have some form of currency, so make sure that you have funds available either in cash or on your credit card of choice.

One common mistake that many travelers make is forgetting to tell their bank or credit card company that they may be spending money somewhere else. These financial institutions have fraud alerts that flag suspicious activity. This is for your protection, but the last thing you want is to try paying for something important just for your card to be declined. Call your bank and let them know your travel plans. The process is quick and painless, and doing so could save you from frustration, especially in an emergency.

Another smart idea is to place a “stop” order on any recurring services or deliveries. You don’t want to have to pay for services while you are out of town or be surprised by a charge that you may not be prepared for while you are on vacation. Also, stop any deliveries to your home as packages and newspapers left lying out could get ruined as well as be a sign to intruders that your home is unoccupied and ripe for a break-in.

There is nothing better than planning a vacation of your dreams, so the last thing you want is to get injured or forget something you need. Taking preventative steps can keep you protected and ensure that you have the time of your life.

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