Some things to think about before you travel

A few tips for new travelers or backpackers.

Keep these things in mind before you set off on your journey.


So you’ve figured out the obvious things before your trip. You packed your bag, you bought your tickets, you have a place to stay. Here are a few things to think about before you go that may not be as obvious or convenient:

  • Get travel insurance. World Nomads offers a comprehensive way to buy the travel insurance that’s right for you, in addition to other useful information.
  • Buy travel medical insurance. For this trip, I only purchased the World Nomads travel insurance, which covers emergency room visits. If I feel the need to buy a specific medical insurance, I’ll look here for suggestions of private companies.
  • Get your vaccinations! If you’re going to Europe, don’t worry about it. But much of Asia, Africa and South America require vaccinations, so keep your vaccination information book with your passport. For a more specific list of what vaccinations you might need, check the CDC’s website.
  • Check the travel advisories for the country you want to visit. Nothing cute about trying to be a tourist in a warring country. The US Department of State’s website gives somewhat up-to-date info, but don’t let that scare you off too much.
  •  However, a fellow traveling friend of mine says that he reads the local papers online before he goes to see what’s up.
  • While we’re doing research, it wouldn’t hurt to read up a little on the weather, history, government and economic situation of the country you are going to. Usually wiki has the answers, but guidebooks from and are also cheap and can be downloaded directly to your *insert technological device here.*
  • Figure out how the public transportation works, or if you’ll be renting a car, and what currency the country uses.
  • As a server/bartender during my less glamorous months of the year, I have to say that it is important to understand the tipping procedures in every country you travel to.
  • Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards.
  • Let your bank know of your travel plans so they don’t shut your cards down.
  • Find out which ATMs coincide with your bank and may not charge you an arm and a leg for withdrawals.
  • Decide whether or not you want to pay for an international phone plan. I intend to use my iPhone as more of a computer, accessing it only when I have wifi or need to take a picture.
  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, make sure you sync it with someone’s Find My iPhone so your mom or whoever knows where you are.
  • A Tip: If you’re traveling alone (like I am) and if you’re a woman (like I am), maybe don’t embark on your travels with a party mindset. What I mean to say is, don’t be one of those stories. Keep your guard up and a clear head, especially at night. We all know that foreigners stick out. If you’re traveling with friends, try not to be so obnoxiously foreign so you don’t attract unwanted attention.


by Rebecca Bellan

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