6 Tried and True Ways to Avoid Disastrous Setbacks When You Travel

You’re amped. Your mind-blowing adventure is just around the corner.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement after months of planning and years of dreaming. You want to make sure everything possible about your spectacular dream vacation is in place.

Going over it time and again in your head doesn’t seem to be helping.

You think you’ve got all your bases covered…

“But, what if YOU‘RE missing something?” Screams your imagination.

Planning travel to a life-changing destination can be overwhelming.

You have new cultural concerns. 

And you’ll have to figure out new currency.

And then there’s the new climates.

On top of that there’s the multiple time zones to navigate.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve spent 34 months in 14 countries on five continents. I travel with a loose Plan A and no Plan B. I’m a fly by the seat of your pants kind of a girl.

So I’ve learned some lessons the hard way.

These tips I learned can save you some trouble.

1. Document These Things During the Planning of Your Trip Before You Set Off on Your Own


Moorea, French Polynesia Photo by Donna Kos

Now it’s a month before your adventure.

And you want to make sure you have all of your documents safeguarded.

Because the last thing you want is to have your passport stolen, luggage gone missing and you don’t have copies of your documents. If you need your passport replaced, having a color photo copy can help expedite the process and save your vacation instead of crippling it.

Since you’ve already made your air and accommodation reservations, write down all your confirmation numbers on paper.

Now, write down addresses and phone numbers for every reservation you’ve made. Keep them all in the same place.

In addition, make photocopies off all your document and have one for each piece of luggage you have in case luggage goes missing.

Although this sounds old school if your phone dies or you can’t get a signal you’ll be glad you did.

By keeping all your photocopied documents in one place you’ll sleep better knowing key elements are sorted.


2. Find Out What Kind of Visa You’re Going to Need


Although many countries require a Visa for entry, many don’t.

iVisa.com is an easy way to do a quick search and they’re fast and cheap. I’ve used it for all my travels in Australia, Thailand and New Zealand. And it also comes highly recommended from many global travelers.

Now if you find you do need a visa, you can get one in a matter of days. Doing it earlier can save you money and sleep. It’s electronically attached to your passport which I found a little unnerving.

However, if you’re over 30 years old, many countries will only issue a Tourist Visa that is good for 3 months. You have to be out of the country when that date comes or you can get fined. In Australia you can leave and return and it restarts your Visa for another 3 months and it allows you to come and go for a year.

Because all countries are different, take a few minutes to do your homework. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll sleep better.

After you’re done, if you need a visa and have ordered it, print your confirmation email. It will have the information you need and you’ll have it with all your other documents.

3. Make Sure Your Travel Vaccines are in Place


Photo by Donna Kos

Travel vaccines are needed in many countries.

And there are Clinics that specialize in Travel Vaccines all over the place. They are very thorough. However they’ll want your travel dates and places. And they may ask what kind of activities you expect to be doing.

The preferred lead time is 2wks for most vaccines. Although a few take longer. But this is ever changing so check with your local clinic.

I’ve gotten them 2 days before I traveled. I’m not recommending that here. It wasn’t a problem but getting them earlier will contribute to your peace of mind.

Also get the yellow card that proves you’ve gotten your vaccines. They may charge you $30 for this piece of heavy, yellow, card stock paper, but it’s a must have and worth every penny.

And keep in mind, certain countries won’t let you in or out if you don’t have a certain vaccination. So if you’ve just been in a country that had a yellow fever outbreak while you were there, you may not be able to leave without proof that you’re vaccinated.

Finally, after you get this taken care of, make photocopies of the vaccination records and put those copies with the rest of your travel documents.

4. Make Sure You Have Some Kind of Travel Insurance


Photo by Kyle Breen

Going on a relaxing vacation?

Get travel insurance.

Going skydiving, bungee jumping, or trekking the Himalayas?

Get travel insurance.

If you’re an “I’ll try anything once person”, your travel insurance is going to cost you more.

I use World Nomads. They insure ordinary vacations and adventure trips all over the world.

The list of adventure sports they cover is pretty extensive. Currently they have over 150 activities listed from Camel riding to Aerial Safari.

Either way, no matter what foreign country you’re visiting, if you have to get airlifted you’ll be glad you shelled out a few bucks.

This is one of the times you need to take the time to make sure you have the coverage that you really want and need for your trip.

Read the policy…

Don’t just click BUY NOW…

When you get your confirmation, print several copies to go with your other travel documents.

5. Be Sure You Have Your Critical Phone Numbers in Case of Emergency


Photo by Donna Kos

With all the phone numbers programmed into our phones it’s rare anyone could actually recite the phone numbers they need most.

Now write down next of kin, emergency contacts and anyone else you think you might need if things go wrong.

Go ahead and include the addresses for good measure.

You could memorize them (which I keep telling myself I’m going to do) but if you get hit in the head that won’t do you any good.

As before, make copies! And put them with your other travel documents.

6. Always Remember that Cash is King

Having cash or credit cards when you travel is a no-brainer.

And a few safety measures can insure you continue to have use of them through out your trip.

Always add your credit card numbers to your list of important numbers. Having these numbers and the customer service call number will serve you well if you’re unfortunate enough to get you purse or wallet stolen. They also have a toll free number if you’re traveling out of the country.

And remember, some of the credit card and banks will block your charges if they see charges come in from out of your usual area. It’s worthwhile to call them before you leave to insure you don’t get stuck without the money you need.

American Express claims they can get you a new card anywhere in the world.

I was in Costa Rica when my purse got stolen one week into a six-week trip. My license, phone, debit card, American Express, my favorite shorts and hair product were gone! (The shorts and hair product were what really pissed me off!)

I spent over an hour on the phone with a woman answering every imaginable question. Finally, satisfied, she got around to where to send my credit card to.

I gave her the street address: “16 Oesta de la Ferretaria Principal.”

She paused.“There aren’t enough boxes to write that address”.

“Seriously?!” I replied, shocked.

If I hadn’t known better I would have thought I was getting punked.

And that card had most of my credit. So making some adjustments became necessary on my trip. I wasn’t pleased. And although it didn’t ruin my trip it didn’t make it any better either.

So take a variety of options including, a Visa or Mastercard along with cash for more peace of mind.


Moreton Island, Australia Photo by Donna Kos

Now you can breathe easier.

You know you have some extrememly important bases covered.

We all know the old adage, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.

So now when you pack your bags and are heading to the airport you won’t have that nagging voice in your head.

Now you can get on that plane ready for your long awaited, mind blowing adventure, with a smile on your face.

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