Whenever I travel, I make sure to pack as little as possible. Getting something like extra shoes or another shirt is easy to find at your destination. However, I’ve listed a few things that are good ideas to get before you go away for a long trip!

Travel insurance, international phone plans, battery chargers and bank accounts are all really hard to set up when you’re already traveling. All of these things make traveling easier and have lots of added benefits!

Set up travel insurance

Dan and I use World Nomads travel insurance to insure us on our trips. Depending on your age, length of trip, destinations and a few other factors, WorldNomads will give you a quote and you can choose to proceed with getting reliable travel insurance.

World Nomads will help insure things like delayed baggage, emergency medical expenses overseas, flight cancellation due to severe weather and hospitalization. If you’re a scuba diver, there are also specific insurance plans for diving. Our friends Alex and Ryan chose this add-on. You can ask them how it’s going!

We initially signed up with World Nomads based on a recommendation from a friend. The rates are reasonable and we’ve heard that World Nomads are responsive if you ever have to make a claim. We haven’t had to make a claim yet, but we feel at ease knowing that if anything were to happen, we are covered.

Why to use Google Fi for your international phone plan

Dan and I both have a Google Pixel 2 phone so that we can have Google Fi plans and have data usage all over the world. You can now bring most phones to Google Fi! Check to see if your phone is supported to get all of the amazing benefits.

We like Google Fi because it’s flexible and affordable, and it even works in places that many people would consider to be off-the-beaten-path countries. It’s about US$ 25.00 for a phone and text plan and US$ 10.00 per GB that we use. Most of the time, we’re on WiFi and we don’t end up using that much data.

How to make phone calls abroad

You can bring your own number or use a Google voice number as default to text and call anyone around the world with Google Fi. We usually make calls over WhatsApp, as phone calls cost $0.20 per minute when we’re traveling. When we’re back in the USA, phone calls are free!

It’s incredibly useful to be able to have cell service right when we land in another country. The Google Fi plan lets us get in touch with an Airbnb host or let our family members at home know where we are.

Taking photo of food with a Google Pixel 2

Buy power adapters and extra battery chargers

There’s nothing like landing in a country and realizing you can’t plug in your phone or other powered device to charge it. Consider that different countries have different types of outlet plugs and do your research based on which kind you need.

To figure out the shape of the plug in the country to which you’re traveling, it’s not entirely helpful to go by photos online of the outlets. This is illustrated by the time I went to South Africa with adapter plugs from India and they were similar, but not close enough to work!

Get a universal power adapter

It’s a good idea to get a universal power adapter that has functions for multiple countries and continents. It’s also useful to get a native plug for a country if you’ll be in that single country for a while. We found that some power outlets around the world aren’t as friendly as we’d like them to be. Some UK and Europe plus often reject our power adapters and they fall out of the wall.

Get a portable battery charger

Another helpful product to have is a battery charger. These are pretty popular now and come in all sorts of sizes. They can hold various different charges. Dan currently uses a 10000mAh charger from Anker.

It’s good to charge a camera during the day and to top off the charge of a phone. It’s also great for flights and longer travel days when power outlets aren’t as accessible. With daily use, it will keep everything charged, but the battery itself needs charging every two days or so.

Banks that reimburse foreign ATM and transaction fees

Thanks to Dan (we both have our own types of travel hacks!), I now know about the Charles Schwab account that gets your foreign ATM fees reimbursed at the end of each month. They suggest saving your ATM receipts to ensure that all transactions have been refunded.

In addition to the Charles Schwab bank account, Dan uses a cash management account with Fidelity. It’s good to have two accounts that reimburse foreign ATM transactions in case one card gets lost, stolen or has some type of fraud.

We also both use the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card which doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees. We typically like using credit as much as we can while we’re away. We’ve found that we get the best conversion rates and don’t need to take out too much cash if we’re using credit often.

Have someone in charge of your home or apartment

When we were not in our apartment in Brooklyn Heights, we had a friend come by whenever we went away for an extended period of time. We had several house plants that we love, and we had asked four friends and family members to stop by when they were able to, so that our plants could get some water and survive the length of our time away!

If you don’t have a home to take care of while you’re away, well, lucky you! If you have a room in an apartment or a house, it’s helpful to be in touch with someone trustworthy to make sure your home doesn’t look unattended for too long. Other things to consider are asking a friend to get your mail so that your mailbox does not overflow, shoveling snow in winter, raking leaves in fall or simply making sure that nothing unexpected has happened to your property.

Becca and Dan with backpacks ready for a flight

Create a travel first aid kit with products you trust

As much as we try to not get sick while we travel, it happens. When we go away for a while, we share a travel first aid kit that has a few trusty items from home: Band-Aids, travel packets of Advil tablets, a travel-sized Neosporin, travel-sized Vaseline, a small bottle of travel illness pills and some sheets of Benadryl/antihistamines.

These things have come in very handy, especially if we’re traveling in a place where pharmacies are closed on Sundays, for example. It’s also good to have products you know and trust in case you cannot read the language in the country where you’re traveling. Our travel-sized first aid kit has gotten us pretty far!


If you’re doing more research for a long trip and you want some packing advice, check out my packing list recommendations and Dan’s packing list recommendations.