travel checklist
Credit: Getty Images - Anna Buckley/HelloGiggles

Traveling to a new city can be such a stressful process, but as cliché as it sounds, planning and doing your research ahead of time can truly make all the difference in the world. No matter how spontaneous you are, it always helps to have some sort of plan, and we have the travel checklist that will get you there without taking the mystery of the city away.

From mapping the best transportation route from the airport to getting tickets in advance for all the major attractions you want to visit, ahead you’ll find a list of quick and easy things all travelers should do before going somewhere they’ve never been before.

Not only will knocking out this list save you and anyone you’re traveling with a ton of time, it will also keep tensions low and make the trip more affordable.

1Get all those travel documents in order.

Before booking a flight, you should always double check for visa requirements and whether your passport expiration date passes the “six-month validity rule,” as some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires before the end of your actual stay. Avoid any expedited passport renewal or visa fees, along with heavy airline rebooking charges, by giving yourself plenty of time to gather the proper documentation.

2Know how you’re getting to and from your flight.

Don’t put a damper on your trip by getting stuck with ridiculous airport cab fares. Take the extra step to map out a budget-friendly public transportation route, see if your hotel offers airport shuttles, or schedule transportation to eliminate surge prices.

3Learn how to say basic phrases.

Knowing how to say “please,” “thank you,” and “hello, how are you?” goes a long way at any international destination. If anything, you’ll likely get friendlier service and a nice smile from a local.

4Do you have cell service here?

Being able to use Google Maps and the internet freely when you’re abroad is a game-changer, so check in with your phone company to find a rate that works for you. There are actually carriers, like T-Mobile and Sprint, that have roaming included with some of their plans. Don’t miss out — get all the details ASAP.

5Make a reservation.

When it comes to food, being hangry and not knowing where to go can lead you to overpriced tourist traps. Though it’s not necessary to have a complete itinerary with every meal planned out, you should do some digging and treat yourself with reservations to a highly rated restaurant or somewhere in the more local part of town.

6Notify your bank and check for any travel fees.

Set a travel notice with your bank to ensure your credit or debit card won’t get shut off. Then, instead of overestimating your spending and ending up with leftover currency, see which cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees and try to use that method of payment as much as possible. Not traveling around with a ton of cash is also more secure and less of a hassle.

7Don’t wait in line, go online.

Standing in line just to get tickets to the tourist attractions, especially in Europe, can be a pain. Don’t waste time: pick what you want to do beforehand, and buy tickets as soon as you book your accommodations. When you walk past the hundreds of people just trying to get tickets to the Colosseum or Louvre this summer, you’ll be glad you got yours online.

8What’s happening that weekend?

Whether it’s a concert, play, or street fair, there are always local events happening that the guidebooks won’t tell you about. Quickly Google what’s happening where you’re headed, and you never know what you’ll find.