You’re planning a vacation abroad, and you’re so excited. All you want to do is look up the best sites to visit, the best restaurants to eat at and the best hotels to stay in while you’re away. While this research is important, you’re going to add some other tasks to your to-do list. These are crucial steps you need to take before you book an international flight.
Get Your Passport
You may not need a passport to fly domestically, but you will need one for any international travel. If you do not have a passport, or your current passport is expired, you should address that problem well before your trip. The processing time for passport renewal routinely takes 10-13 weeks — so, you won’t want to leave this to the last minute!
What About a VISA?
Some international destinations will require you to have a tourist VISA as well as a passport. So, you will want to check whether you will need to get this extra paperwork completed. You can usually do this online, in the weeks leading up to your trip.
Plan for Travel Trouble
Your vacation might come with a few unforeseen obstacles. For instance, you might lose your passport while you’re abroad. A passport is necessary for you to get on your return flight home, so you’ll need to get a replacement right away.
How can you plan for this? Well, you’ll want to create an emergency fund before you go on your trip. An emergency fund can help you pay for urgent expenses outside of your budget right away. In this case, this would be a new passport. You would have to go to the nearest embassy for your home country and let them know that you’ve lost your passport. If your return flight is fast approaching, you should apply for a temporary replacement passport (only to use for your return flight). If your return flight is a long way away, you should apply for a regular passport, although you can pay extra fees to expedite the process.
An emergency fund will help you pay for this urgent passport application right away. It can also come in handy for other types of travel trouble, like missed flights, luggage delays and lost cell phones.
What If Your Emergency Fund Isn’t Enough?
Just in case you don’t have enough savings sitting in your emergency fund to cover an emergency expense, you’ll want to have a backup plan. Your credit card is one option for this. As long as you have enough room on your credit card, you can use it to cover any remaining expenses your emergency fund can’t handle.
Another option that you could consider is applying for an online loan. With an approved online loan, you could use temporary funds to pay off urgent expenses in a short amount of time and then move forward with your vacation. If this option piques your interest, you should learn more about flex loans ahead of time. The information could be useful in an emergency.
Research Airline Policies
Before you book your international flight, research airline policies. You can’t assume that every airline will offer the same accommodations to passengers. Every airline is different.
What policies should you check? Look into airline policies regarding baggage. These will let you know how much carry-on and checked baggage you are allowed to bring, and what extra fees you will have to pay for surpassing baggage sizes and weight limits. This information will help you save money and pack accordingly!
If you are plus-size, you should check policies regarding plus-size passengers. An airline might suggest that you book an extra seat so that you are not squished tightly beside another passenger. Some airlines will reimburse you for this extra seat, while others won’t. Some airlines will not allow you to bring your own seatbelt extender and will require you to use the seatbelt extenders available on the plane.
If the airline doesn’t seem to have a clear policy for plus-size passengers, consider booking a seat that’s not in economy class — these will be the most cramped. Spending more for a seat in economy plus, business or first class could be worth the comforts. This strategy can also be helpful for anyone who is very tall and wants more legroom during their trip.
Cross all of these steps off your to-do list as soon as possible. Then, you’ll be really ready to book your flight!