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There’s nothing as exciting as getting ready to travel abroad. You book the tickets, check out all the sights there are to see where you’ll be going, plan all your travel outfits, and pack. The excitement builds, and then, at last, it’s time for your trip! You hop in a cab and head off to the airport, daydreaming about all the fun you will have when you get to your destination. But wait, you’ve forgotten some important things! Your passport is lying on the dresser in your bedroom, and you forgot to call Cignpost Diagnostics for a COVID test. It looks like you’re not going anywhere.

If this sounds like your worst nightmare, then we’ve got something you need. Our checklist of seven essential things you need to do before traveling abroad will keep you on schedule and ensure that you don’t leave anything important behind.

1. Book the COVID test required by your travel destination.

Though travel restrictions have relaxed a lot over the last few months, most places in the world still require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result for you to enter their country. In fact, most countries request that you have proof of immunization or a negative test result even to board a plane. This is not only for the safety of the passengers you will share a plane with, the crew, and the locals but also for your own safety and comfort. Imagine finding out you have COVID halfway through your vacation! It is better to be safe than sorry.

2. Passport

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Check that your passport is valid, and then double-check! An expired passport could put a real damper on your travel plans. The only thing worse than an expired passport is no passport at all, so plan ahead and don’t leave yours at home! Designate a little clutch for it and any other essential travel papers that you might need. Make an actual checklist and check off “pack passport” when your documents are securely in your handbag or backpack. Make a second copy of all these papers and your passport and keep them in a secure location at all times.

3. Visas

This step is long, potentially miserable, and always tedious but completely essential. The order in which you need to apply for visas/ book flights/ book accommodation varies from location to location, so you’ll need to do a fair amount of research before you embark on the process. Our advice is to start this process far, far earlier than you think you need to. Delays can spring up at a moment’s notice, incorrect forms could be issued, and any number and kind of mistakes could be made as you go along. Remember that the type of visa you need will be different depending on the reason for your travel; tourism or work.

4. Communication

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If you’re going anywhere in the Western world, communicating with someone at home is likely to be pretty straightforward. Check if you need a new number, what your roaming charges will be, and whether your accommodation offers Wi-Fi. Even if that is the case, we recommend that you set up a communication schedule with someone from home. Communicating every day at a set time means that you get to keep in touch with loved ones but also that they can keep track of your whereabouts and activity. Even if you’re on a trip to get away from it all, someone needs to know where you are and that you’re safe at all times. If you’re traveling somewhere with less infrastructure, ensuring that you have a way of contacting home before you arrive at your destination is essential. You may need to make daily trips to somewhere that offers international calls or an internet cafe, so research before you arrive.

5. Budget

Develop a budget before leaving if you don’t want to run out of money halfway through your trip. If there are certain activities you know you’ll be doing on certain days, account for that cost. Work out a budget for accommodation, one for food, and one for spending per day. Stick to that budget at all costs, and you won’t have to fret about your wallet drying up.

6. Learn About Your Destination

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Not only is it good manners to know basic words and phrases in the local language, but it will be extremely helpful to you if you’re going somewhere where the first language is anything but the one you speak. Get an app like DuoLingo and learn phrases like “Where is X,” “I don’t speak much X language,” “Hello, my name is X,” and “Thank you.” Learn about the locations you will be traveling to. Know if there are any unsafe areas that you should stay away from, what the traditions are so that you can keep in line with them, and if there are any exciting cultural sights you’d like to see.

7. Create A Checklist

Create a checklist for everything you need to pack before leaving, everything from toiletries to electronics to clothing. We recommend adding a spare change of clothing to your carry-on, just in case there are any luggage mishaps and you find yourself in need of one. As you pack, mark each item off so that you’re sure you haven’t forgotten anything you might need. Account for surprising changes in weather when you make a clothing checklist; again, better safe than sorry!

Wrap Up

The last thing to be sure of: relax and have fun! If you’ve checked off all the items on this checklist and all the items on your packing checklist, you’re prepared to travel.