In order to have a successful, stress free trip when you travel internationally, you must plan ahead. If you are like me, or most people I know, it is easy to procrastinate and push things back to the last minute. Unfortunately, if you want to save yourself from being overwhelmed with panic the days leading up to your trip, there are a few things you must do in the weeks leading up to your departure. As long as you acknowledge what you have to get done before your trip and accomplish them one day at a time, it will not seem so stressful.
First, make sure you (and anyone else who is travelling with you) have up to date passports. On average, it takes about three weeks (sometimes more) to renew a passport, so it is important to get this out of the way as soon as possible if you do need to send in for a new one. You should also scan your passport and send it to your e-mail or somewhere that will be easy for you to access in case someone happens to your passport while you are overseas.
Next, make sure you know if the country you will be travelling to requires you to have a visa. Not all countries do, but it is important to find out ahead of time. http://www.projectvisa.com is a website that tells which countries require visas and how long the visas last as well as embassy information.
It is important to keep your bank up to date on your travel information, so it is a good idea to tell them in advance what country/countries you will be going to and for how long. If you do not notify your bank of your travels, your bank might block your account if you try using your account overseas. Banks usually block accounts if they think someone else is using your money in another country as fraud, so it will save you time and hassle if you keep them in the loop.
Another good idea is to write down a list of important phone numbers, such as: the embassy, the local hospital, the police, your family back home, your bank from your country, etc. Along with these numbers, it’s important to make sure you know you will have a phone that you can rely on. You need to decide if you are going to purchase a phone in a new country, of if you will bring your own cell phone (and if so, speak to your provider about roaming fees). You should also make sure to have purchased your calling card in advance so that you will be able to call internationally at a reasonable price and not have to worry about finding a card once you are already in a foreign country.
Lastly, I would recommend researching to see if the country you are going to requires that you get specific vaccinations or not. One website that tells which countries do require vaccinations and which vaccinations they require is http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Not all countries require this health measure, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
I hope these tips help to make your international travels an enjoyable, stress free journey!