By John W Jackson Jr, USAF Ret.

There are many things that you should do before a trip, whether you are flying military Space A, going commercial or driving your own car. Here are some tips to help you to be as well prepared as possible. It’s not a complete list, but it will give you a good idea of things to think about, and it sure doesn’t hurt to be a little cautious.

Leave “To Do” List

Stop any recurring deliveries of mail, newspapers or milkman or have a neighbor do the pick up. Have a housekeeper or a landscaper? If the landscaper never goes in the house anyway and is prepaid, it might be a good idea to continue this service.

Do you need/want a house sitter or a pet sitter? If you trust your housekeeper enough, maybe she/he can house sit for you. A neighborhood teen can be hired to pet sit.

If you are driving your car on this trip make sure you get your oil and your transmission fluid changed or at least checked. Make sure your vehicle insurance is up to date.

The Essentials

Have phone numbers of where you plan to be and leave that information with someone you trust. Also have those phone numbers, website, apps and anything else you may be using readily available for your use.

If you will be using it, scan a copy of your passport (a passport should have at least six months left on it as of the end of your scheduled vacation), credit card information (check expiration dates also) and any other important documents and e-mail them to yourself. In case these things are lost, at least you have the information that you can show anyone that requires it. Speaking of passports, you should carry yours in a plastic pouch. Sweat and condensation will ruin a passport over time.

Do you plan to use your credit or debit cards while traveling abroad? Find out which ones you can use and check  to see if you will be charged an international fee for using it. You can ask about getting a waiver on the fee when you call to let them know your travel plans. It’s always a good idea to notify your bank or credit card company which states and/or countries you plan to visit. If you are in the countryside of Italy trying to purchase a souvenir, you don’t want the card to be denied because your bank thinks it was stolen.

While overseas you might like to have a language translator app on your phone.  It can really come in handy if you are visiting countries where English is not the native language.

Travel insurance is a good thing to have, just in case. A Global Positioning System (GPS) is always helpful when exploring. Many I-phones come with a GPS.

Plan Ahead

Experts say it’s a good idea to plan the first and last day of your trip. After traveling, sometimes you are not thinking straight and are just happy for it to be over. Plan those days while your mind is still fresh and you’re thinking clearly. Your plan doesn’t have to be followed exactly, just a basic idea of what should be done. Circumstances will alter even the best-laid plans.

The most important thing to remember is, it’s a vacation. Have fun. Do things that you normally never do in your everyday life. Someday you will probably look back on it and be glad that you did. Happy travels everyone.

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Author: John W Jackson Jr. retired from the Air Force in 1993. He’s been married to a Filipina for just over 37 years. They have a son and four grandsons. They’ve lived in the Philippines for the past seven years but frequently make visits back to Texas. John is an avid NFL fan and his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. He likes John Wayne, Hank Williams Jr, listening to older country music and a nice steak (medium well)! When he is not involved with the Empire Builder series games or playing dominoes, he offers sage advice on how to travel using Space A.