Your bags are packed, so you are ready to go, right? Not quite. While being packed feels like a huge accomplishment, you are not quite home free yet. There are a few more items to check off your list before you arrive at your final destination.
Day of Departure International Travel Checklist
Check Your Flight Status
This seems like an intuitive step, but many people just head to the airport and assume it will be smooth sailing. There is nothing worse than getting to the airport to find out your flight was canceled. Your airline should warn you in plenty of time, but this does not always happen. Sometimes the next flight is not until much later that day or even the next day. If you caught a ride to the airport, you might be stuck.
Check Airport Parking Situation
Have a plan for where to park when you arrive. Some airports have those private company lots where you park and take a shuttle to the terminal. Often, these places have a much lower rate if you book online ahead of time. If you are parking at the actual airport, some lots closer to the terminal seem to always be full. You may get to the lot to then have to do the big loop around the airport and park further away, which can be stressful when you are worried about catching a flight. Go ahead and scope out the situation before you arrive.
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Set Your Thermostat
Do not waste the electricity and money to heat or cool your house to your preferred comfort level while you are away. Think green!
Get To The Airport At Least Two Hours Before Your Flight
Of course, this is a rule of thumb that everybody knows but so many times it is ignored. The last time you sped through the security line does not mean you will have the same luxury this go around. Even now when most people check-in online and arrive at the airport with boarding passes and carry on baggage, it can take an astoundingly long time to make it to your gate. This is particularly true if you are traveling with young children. So just get to the airport as early as possible. Worst case scenario you get to relax at a restaurant near your gate to enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage.
Do Not Forget Your Passport
This is so obvious, but there are so many stories of people arriving at the airport without their passports. SO. MANY. This is another reason to get to the airport early in case you forget your passport or anything else for that matter.
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Keep Security Items Easily Accessible
Make sure you can easily get to your liquids, laptops, passports, and boarding passes. If you use mobile boarding passes, don’t fumble around with your airline app each time to access the boarding passes. Take a screenshot of boarding passes and keep them in your most recent photos so you can access them quickly.
Check Your Gate Assignment One Last Time
Your gate can change even after you have your boarding pass. After you pass security, check your gate one more time on the big screens. Make your way near your gate so you can hear any announcement.
Try To Improve Your Seats
If you are not happy with your seats or are trying to sit close to your travel partners, make one last appeal to the gate agent to see if they can help you. If you strike out, talk to the flight attendants once onboard. Once the boarding door closes, empty seats are up for grabs!
Consider eating a meal before you board the plane. The food on airplanes is high in sodium which causes dehydration and makes it harder to sleep. Bring snacks, especially if you are traveling with children.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Not only does dehydration make it harder to sleep, but it also increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVP). Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. While you can not bring water past security, you can pack an empty water bottle to refill.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVP) Prevention
If you are at risk for DVPs (see list of risk factors here), make sure to avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, wear loose and comfortable clothing, wear compression socks, and get up often during the flight to stretch which encourages blood flow. Talk to your doctor about a possible prescription for blood-thinning medicine for your trip.
Adjust Your Watch
Once you are on the plane, adjust your watch to the time at your destination to try and help you adjust to the new time.
Attempt to Sleep
It is not going to be easy, but being armed with a travel pillow to suit your travel style, a blanket, an eye mask, and noise-canceling headphones will improve your chances.
Arrival International Travel Checklist
Have your documents ready for immigration. Some countries allow Americans to enter the country through electronic border control. Examples include eGates in Great Britain and Germany’s Easy Pass System. Research your destination to find out if ePassports are accepted to reduce your time in line on arrival. Please note that if you are traveling with kids, you are not eligible to use some of these electronic border control systems.
Get Some Cash
When you arrive at your final destination, use your debit card at the airport to grab some cash because the last thing you want to do once you arrive at your accommodation is to look for an ATM that works with your debit card. In Europe, there are two brands of cash machines, Plus which works with Visa and Maestro/Cirrus which works with MasterCard.
Most banks charge a 1% foreign transaction fee when taking out cash internationally. If you have a credit card with travel perks, you will most likely not have these fees on what you charge, so consider using your credit card as much as possible while traveling.
Divide Your Cash
As a tourist in a foreign place, you are an easy target. Thus, credit cards are a safer option, but there are some places where you still need cash to operate. To avoid fees or searching for ATMs, it may be easier to get out a lot at one time. Do not keep it all in one place. Divide it between you and your travel partners if possible or at least into different compartments of your baggage.
Fight The Jet Lag
Some people think that staying awake all day on arrival is the best option, but research states that you should get as much sleep as you normally do in a 24 hour period so a short nap during the day and an early bedtime are okay. Try to be outdoors and keep moving as much as possible, these two things are your best tools for combating jet lag!
Put Away This Checklist
You have made it! It is now time to stop checking items off your list and enjoy yourself.
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