I’m not one of those crazy fear mongers that like to talk about the end of the world, etc. I am an pessimist most of the time though. There’s been tons of blog posts and even the media has told people to do this. It used to cost money to freeze your credit file. Because of security breaches, the government made this free. You should take advantage of this. The reason I’m posting this is because there are still many people I know that haven’t done this and very few people that I talk to have. You’ll hear about a new data breach once every few months or so and sometimes it’s big, sometimes it’s not. Regardless, your information is probably out there for purchase on the dark web. Back when Scott McNealy was CEO of Sun Microsystems, he said “You have zero privacy anyway … Get over it.” I think it’s truer today than ever.
That said, even if you data isn’t out there, you should protect yourself. One important way is to freeze your credit report. The links are below, but they can change at any time.
Note: You can unfreeze anytime for free and it’s instantaneous, but if you’re looking to get a bank loan, mortgage, credit card or something else that will require your credit to be checked, you might want to do that before freezing your credit files. If you have already frozen your credit files and need credit cards, etc, just ask them which credit bureau they’ll be running. Most banks will tell you. When they do, you can do temporary lifts and it’s a pretty simple process.
All credit bureaus have been breached at some point. They will be hit again. Please, freeze your credit files.
Some additional things to do are to keep an eye on your finances and monitor your personal credit report and financial activity. Nearly every bank now will also do credit monitoring for free. Sign up if you need to. If your bank doesn’t do it, find one that does.
Install the travel apps. I use TripIt, Hopper, and a bunch of different airline apps. I’ve been told that Synchronize, Currency, and Speak&Translate are also quite useful. I also have Uber and Lyft. Different places will have other taxi apps e.g. Grab Taxi is Singapore’s best taxi app. Just check and install them before you go. I can tell you that Uber works in France and Australia.
Download streaming content into your phone or tablet. Many places in the world now, including planes have wifi, but you’ll be surprised how many places don’t have them. I recommend if you’re using Netflix or whatever you’re using, download whatever your entertainment is just in case so you’re not too bored on a plane or airport or somewhere else.
Download offline maps. Google maps allows you to download offline maps of wherever you’re going onto your phone. Just in case you don’t have good service where you go, I recommend downloading the maps.
Find a good phone carrier. I think T-Mobile is probably the best carrier for travel considering the unlimited (slow) data in almost any country you go to. I also never need to change my number when visiting other countries. One trick my wife and I use is that we tether our phones to each other so that we can make regular phone calls for free while moving.
Carry a travel adapter. This is redundant with my travel packing list. Most plugs on airplanes are universal and European adapters tend to stay in much better than U.S prongs.
Drink lots of liquids on the airplane. It’s very easy to get dehydrated on planes. It’s tempting to drink alcohol when it’s free, but I don’t drink alcohol often on planes and wouldn’t suggest it. Staying hydrated might help get over jet lag as well.
Be careful with the local water. Talking about you staying hydrated, find out if the local water is drinkable. Even if the local water is drinkable, it may not taste good or it might be safe enough for locals, but not you. You might consider buying bottled water. You might also consider boiling the local water if you have a kettle in your hotel room. Sometimes, I drink boiled water when I run out of bottled water and the room’s mini bar is out.
Take down your hotel address. I love Google maps. Put your hotel address in your locations or favorites. Also take down the room number and put it in notes or something.
Beware of Free Public WIFI. You’re not sure who’s snooping on wifi. You might want to avoid using it or just using it for unimportant things like directions and stuff. You don’t know how safe it is. Consider using a VPN for surfing. It’ll slow you down, but might be more secure. I have lifetime subscriptions with VPNSecure.me and KeepSolid.
Subscribe to a VPN service. That’s one way to be able to view some of the content you’re used to watching at home, be it YouTube TV or something else.
Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans. This can help you avoid some embarrassment in some places. You don’t want to be on hold with your bank while far away.
Withdraw money from ATMs – Do not exchange currency at counters. Exchange currency counters, especially at airports are a total ripoff! I use ATMs at airports all the time though. First Republic bank reimburses all of my ATM fees and seems to give me the best rates.
Get a credit card without exchange / foreign transaction fees. Those exchange/foreign transaction fees could be quite expensive! There are plenty of credit cards out there now without the fees and that also give you some great travel rewards. Consider those. There might be an annual fee, but some annual fees are worth it. Some banks will waive or credit annual fees if you just spend some more money.
Spend money in their currency if your credit card does not have exchange fees. If they ask what currency you want to pay in, always pay in their currency if you have one of those no-fee credit cards. The rates are always better.
Use the hotel safe if possible. Prior to doing so though, check if the administrative code has been changed on the safe. You can find some videos on how to do that on YouTube, like in the one below.
Use the “Do Not Disturb”door hanger if there’s a physical one. Some now have a button for you to press so it may not make a difference. The reason I do is because first off, I don’t want to be disturbed when I’m in the room. Secondly, it’s easier for someone to think the room is there’s if all doors look alike. If yours has the door hanger, they’ll know the room isn’t there’s unless they used it also. The downside of this is that you will need to remove it if you want the room cleaned. Some hotels will give you more points if you don’t have the room cleaned. I don’t want people seeing my things so I often will leave the door hanger on the door and skip the cleaning service regardless of whether or not I get the additional points.
Have a backup! Keep some cash, identification (or copy of it), and a credit card with your luggage. Of course, keep some with you also.
Keep medication/contacts/toiletries on you! If you take any regular medication, always keep some in your carry-on, backpack, purse, or whatever you carry with you in case your luggage is lost. A set of extra contact lenses would help as well. A comb, toothpaste and toothbrush can come in handy in airport/airplane bathrooms. Some airlines are nice enough to provide you these things. Others may only do it in first class. I also like to have earplugs that I sometimes put under my headset.
Bring Clothes, just in case – Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared. I usually keep a shirt, pair of socks, and underwear in a ziplock bag in my backpack just in case.
Use your downtime. You can check into your hotel room well in advance nowadays with most hotels. I usually have Uber open immediately after landing. If you’re traveling for business, you can do your expense reports while waiting for a flight or in an Uber back to the hotel. It beats having to look for all of your receipts. I usually snap a photo immediately after getting it and just throw it away.
Carry a water filter bottle. I often bring my Brita bottle. If you’re not drinking bottled water, you can boil water and drink it as is. I like to use the Brita bottle because I always feel it makes my water taste a little better. Also with a straw, I drink way more water for some reason.
Keep some hand sanitizer with you! Considering that there are germs everywhere and that there’s a nasty Coronavirus around, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and spray it or rub some regularly. I dry out my hands every once in a while, but I fear getting sick on a trip more than anything!
Steal hotel laundry bags – for division of clean and dirty clothes, they come pretty handy. If I didn’t use some clothes, I just leave them in the bottom of the suitcase and then just use the bag on top of it and throw the dirty clothes on top of that. That way, when you get home, you could just throw the dirty clothes right into the washer and put the clean clothes away.
Steal the hotel shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc, but only if it’s good quality and you’re going to multiple cities. You never know if the hotel in the next city will have comparable ones unless you’re staying at the same hotels all the time.
What are your tips? Please share in the comments below! Thanks for reading!