To Do List Before an International Trip


(from Travel Ganas point of view – all of this can be adapted to your preferences)

  1. Call phone company and find out international rates, etc. or if your phone will work
  • For AT&T wireless subscriber: you can call AT&T and add on an additional “50 Global text messages” for $10 (valid for only 1 month period.  You cannot pay another $10 to get another 50 messages within the same month).  That is, you get to make 50 outgoing text messages while being abroad to any phone numbers, US or international.  All incoming messages are free.  (If you don’t sign up for the 50 Global text, it’s 50 cents to text, and if you run out of the 50 outgoing global text, it’s 50 cents per additional text). Calling rates vary from the country that you call out of (it’s approximately $2.99 per minute, but you can ask your service provider).
  • Sometimes, Sprint and Verizon (CDMA phones) even the GSM (AT&T/T-Mobile) might not work in other countries (especially Japan).
  • Know the country code
  • Use + before the country code and number.  If you don’t have this plus sign on your dial pad, holding “0” for awhile usually works.  If not, you can find out how to dial out of your country by visiting this wiki page:
  • If you really do need to text/call, you can (aside from Skype) also opt for a SIM card provided you have an unlocked GSM phone. There are phone vendors (similar to Asia) selling them. This is very practical if you’re planning to stay in the country for a long while (if you’re going to stay long enough to make more than 50 outgoing text messages, then best to invest in local SIM card!)  SIM card at AT&T is free! This is great info for travelers coming to USA.  You just have to add value to the SIM, calling rates vary, you must talk to AT&T about this.
  1. Call your bank & credit card company and let them know you will be traveling so they don’t freeze your account if you use your card there, etc.
  • Fees might be around $5 each time you use your ATM card
  • ATM and credit cards also will charge an additional 3% fee on top of the total
  • so if you do get more cash there, pull out a LOT (in large quantities)
  • Bank of America told me that if I use my ATM card, make sure I use it as a debit rather credit if possible. Fees come out cheaper.
  • Highly recommend credit card for US travelers: Capital One – widely used throughout the world without international transaction fees.  (American Express might just recently offer this, please check).
  1. Know the exchange rate for the currency of the country you are going to.
  • Have an idea of what the price range is for most items (a meal, etc.)
  1. Exchange at the bank beforehand and get $300-800 dollars worth in cash?
  • (depending on how long your trip is)
  • Make sure to get SMALL BILLS for the taxi
  • Note: Some banks close early in other countries (ex: Argentina Banco de la Nación 2pm.
  • At the airport, you can only exchange dollars for pesos, etc.  If you do not have cash, they will not be able to give you cash using your credit card, etc. at the bank or the airport – you will only be able to use the ATM )
  1. Make sure you get an adapter/converter
  1. Make copies of your ID/passport/credit cards just in case (anything is lost or stolen) and email them to yourself.  That way, you can have a copy in your inbox.
  • Carry copies with you and leave a copy at home with loved ones for worst case scenarios.
  1. Research the Country
  • Find out if you need VISA for entry.
  • For example, China & India requires entry VISA for US passport holders.
  • Know political climate, you can visit: to get details on travel warnings.

           9. Research the weather and dress appropriately

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