by Lynn Kim Do

10 Things You Need To Do Before You Travel

So you book the trip. Congrats! That was the hardest part! And you’ve also figured out the hotel or airbnb or couch surfing situation, another great feat! All packed? Well, that’s a whole other post I have to dedicate to. (And I will, I promise!) In this piece, I want to share 10 things that most people DO NOT think about but should absolutely think about before they travel. These are all simple tips that can make your trip exponentially better. From years of country hopping and traveling, I’ve accumulated a condense list of things that you can easily google or grab before the plane takes off.

1. Check the Weather, duh!  
This is the very first thing I do a few days before I know I’m going to fly. I can’t stress this enough. What you pack is absolutely dependent on whether it’s going to be raining chilly, REALLY hot, or REALLY cold. There were too many times that I didn’t pack a light jacket and suffered the entire trip. NOT fun. There are other times where I did not pack enough shorts when it was well over 100 degrees.
2. Learn a few words in their native tongue.
If you’re going to be in a foreign country that doesn’t speak “English” or a language you’re familiar with, google a few words. Not knowing won’t break your trip but you have to remember that you’re visiting someone else’s home land. The people who you will meet, who you will talk to, who will serve you will appreciate your efforts. It will make all the difference when they see you trying because they will “try” harder for you. Learn how to say these words: “Hi,” “Bye,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me.” I use those words the most.
3. All about the Moolah, baby.At least one week before your trip, figure out the currency situation. For instance, taking American dollars to Cuba is a no go. They will tax the crap out of you. It’s absolutely not worth it. So I learned that I had to go into an American Currency Exchange before my trip with USD cash and exchange it to Euros or Canadian dollars to bring to Cuba and then exchange my Euro/Canadian dollars to Cuban currency. Another tip is figuring out if cash or credit is preferred. More developed countries will have credit readily available to use. Make sure your card has a chip. And do not forget to call your bank. Rule of thumb is to bring cash regardless for street spending and tipping.
4. To tip? Or not to tip?
Each country has their own etiquette on tipping. Some tip a lot. Some don’t expect it at all. Do a quick google search. This will help you when you’re scratching your head deciding how much to tip at the restaurant.
5. What’s the outlet situation?
Imagine going into your destination and realizing you can not charge your phone, your laptop, or your camera. NIGHTMARE! Each country has their own outlet standards. Make sure you bring the right one so that you’re prepared.
6. Do you even Uber, bro?
Domestic trips and international trips, I always google if Uber is available in that area. Uber has saved me in Europe, Los Angeles, Vietnam, and many other countries. They are usually cheaper than taxis and since my card is connected, I won’t be charged an international fee or have to rely on cash. Super simple. Domestically, it’s useful to google because some cities in the US like Austin does not have Uber. Shocking right? Since we’re on the topic of transportation, you should have an idea if public transportation, car rental, or taxis are the best way of getting around in your travel destination.
7. Print EVERYTHING. Now.
I got this tip from a friend of mine. And it has SAVED me. Some airplanes and bed and breakfast or hotels are still stuck in the 19th century. AKA they require printed tickets or confirmation. Also, if you’re in a foreign country, you may not have internet access to look up your reservation, so it’s a brilliant idea to print out all your reservation and store it in an envelope which I always label. If it’s a business trip, I keep all my receipts in that envelope too.
8. Data or nah?
Having cell phone service or data can really make a trip SO efficient. It helps when you’re trying to figure out where to eat, attractions to see, making reservations, getting an Uber, calling your family at home to tell them you’re alive, posting travel envious photos on Instagram, you know…all that good stuff! Figure out how cell service and data can be obtained. In Seoul, South Korea, you can rent a pod that provides you portable and 24 hours of Wifi service for as little as $3 a day. My cell phone service, Sprint, has Global Roaming which provides me with free texting and unlimited data in many countries.
9. Weird, but what about toilet paper?
If you’re going to a developing country, like most of Asia, pack toilet paper or a packet of baby wipes. Trust me, it will save you.
10. Don’t forget about the plane!Lastly, you’re so busy worrying about the destination itself that you didn’t even get a chance to think about the long hours you’re about to endure on the plane. Don’t forget a neck pillow because it will save your neck and aid your sleep. I always bring my own snacks (food is allowed on the plane, just not water). And don’t forget to pack a facial spray, a sheet mask, and face wipes. Oh, and hand sanitizer! 


Images by Daniela Spector