FEATURE 12 October 2012

10 Things to Do Before You Go Abroad

1. Passport and Visas
Make sure you have your passport and necessary visas. If you don’t have a passport already, make sure you apply for one 2-3 months in advance of your trip. Waiting for a visa can take up to a month in itself, so get your application in early.

2. Vaccinations
Get the necessary vaccinations, and make sure you are updated on other shots, like tetanus. You can find information about country-specific vaccinations from your physician.

3. Mail
Have a friendly neighbor collect your mail or arrange for your local post office to hold your deliveries for the duration of your stay in Eastern Europe.

4. Pay Bills
Depending upon the duration of your stay, you may want to pay your bills in advance, or set up internet accounts so that you can pay from your checking account remotely.

5. Call Your Bank
Call your credit card company or your bank to let them know that you will be using your credit or debit cards in Eastern Europe. Tell them what countries you plan to be in and the dates you plan to be away. Some banks or credit card companies will automatically cancel cards that are used overseas for security purposes.

6. Color Copies of Documents
Give someone close to you a color photocopy of your passport and visas. If something happens to your passport (or you), it’s good for someone at home to have all of your identifying information.

7. Contact Information
Give contact information to appropriate parties. Let others know what email address they can reach you at, what hotels you may be staying in, and the duration of your stay in each location.

8. Communication
Electronic communication is the most time-efficient way to tell everyone you are safe. If you choose to mass e-mail friends, you don't want to miss anyone in the high-energy flurry of your messages--so prepare your list in advance. Also be aware that initial set-up of an internet journal account from Eastern Europe may be frustrating, so do it at home. The internet cafes are fairly user-friendly, but you may have trouble navigating programs designed with native speakers in mind.

9. Photos
You may want to set up an internet photo gallery to share photo current photos with friends and family. Download directly from your digital camera to the photo gallery if you don’t plan on bringing your laptop.

10. Someone to Watch Your House
If you rent, let your landlord know how long you will be gone. If you own a house, have someone check on your place once a week.

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