Going abroad is consistently on our list of favorite things to do, but there’s always an element of the unknown when you travel outside of the States. From trying to converse in a foreign language to figuring out currency conversion rates, chances are that you’re going to have enough to deal with on the ground, so it's a good idea to take care of trip details before you take off so you can relax and enjoy the destination.
What you’ll learn about traveling internationally is that you should always be prepared—and being overprepared will never get you in trouble. Once you book your flight, take a peek at this handy European travel checklist, which covers everything you need to do before you leave to ensure you have a stress-free vacation. Read it once, or maybe twice, and then get ready to have the time of your life.
Check your passport's expiration date
You won’t be able to get far if you don’t have a valid passport. Check ahead of time to see if you’ll have to go through the renewal process. Remember that it can take several weeks if you don’t pay to expedite it.
Keep a digital copy of your passport
There is always a chance that you'll lose your passport or that it might get stolen. Stay one step ahead of the game and have a digital copy stored in your email. That way, if you have to go to the embassy, you’ll have proof that you are who you say you are.
Alert your credit card company
There’s nothing worse than having your credit card cut off (it even happens to us in the States). Call your credit card company in advance to tell them you’ll be traveling. We suggest bringing more than one credit card and some cash with you in case there’s an error with your bank and you can’t get in touch right away.
Purchase international travel insurance
Look into whether your current plan covers you if you happen to get sick or have an accident while you’re abroad. Several companies offer short-term health insurance plans to cover you while traveling (make sure they’re on the State Department's list of reputable companies).
Update your cell phone plan
Whether you choose to change your cell phone plan to an international one or get a pay-as-you-go phone, it’s wise to have a working cell once you reach your destination.
Apply for a rail pass
Most European rail passes require that you order them in advance (as in, it’s too late once you get there). Plan travel between countries or cities as early as possible and look into which tickets or passes will be beneficial to you.
Visit your doctor
Make sure you have a checkup and refill all of the necessary prescriptions before crossing the border. Additionally, when you take your medications along with you while traveling, always keep them in the prescription bottle and bring the physical prescription slip with you. If you’re prone to getting sick, fill a prescription premeditatively to make sure that you’re covered (medications are not always the same abroad).
Share your itinerary with loved ones
If you’re not a type-A planner, then a quick rundown of where you’ll be staying, your flights, and your international phone number will do. This is especially important if you happen to be traveling alone.
Another key item for your European travel checklist? The continent is prone to having temperatures change in a moment’s notice, so make sure to bring the right clothing layers that will keep you comfortable night or day.
Get foreign currency
Make sure you transfer money to the currency of the country you're visiting before you take off. This will serve as backup cash in case your credit card gets declined or you need small change.
Have at least your first night’s stay planned ahead of time; although it’s likely best to book all of your accommodations in advance.
Bring tech adapters
Research to see which adapters you’ll need for your tech items. You can even invest in a large set that has adapters compatible for every country.