After my recent trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (with 93,000 others), I quickly learned some valuable lessons. Now keep in mind, that I have traveled to over 15 countries during my career and never had all the mishaps encountered on my recent trip, including lost luggage (actually this did happen once on a trip to Australia) and being pickpocketed (in the pickpock capital of the world). This, however, served as a great reminder of what to do (and not do) when traveling (in the U.S. or abroad).
- When traveling abroad, make a copy of your passport (or two). Keep one in your carry-on luggage and leave one at home.
- Travel with only one (or two at the most) credit cards. Split up your cash and leave part in the hotel safe at all times. Leave EVERYTHING else you normally carry in your wallet at home.
- Call your bank before you leave on your trip to let them know which cards you are taking, what days you will be gone and where you are traveling to. They will create a travel plan for you. Then if you misplace any of your cards, or they get stolen, you can cancel them with one phone call (I actually did this one).
- Take one full days worth of clothes in your carry-on luggage (if you need to check your luggage).
- Get a luggage tracking App, such as Trakdot Luggage so you know where your luggage is at all times. This takes the guess work out so you know when you can anticipate any “lost” luggage.
- Call your wireless carrier if you will be out of the country. By getting an international plan added on (for that time), you could save a ton of money.
- Convince the folks at Mobile World Congress to include pictures on badges so you don’t have to carry your passport and show it every day. Otherwise, consider ordering a passport card (so worth the $45).
- Know what’s exactly in your wallet. Make a list somewhere safe before you leave home, including any card numbers. Refer to #2 above to avoid problems.
- Be aware of your surroundings at ALL times. Even when traveling with business people, the thieves find a way in and can push you or maneuver themselves so they have easy access to your phone or wallet. You are never really “safe.”
- If your stuff does get stolen, the number one thing you have to do is file a police report, then immediately call your bank. If you filed a trip report with your bank before you left (#3 above), you can cancel all your cards with one phone call. It makes it much easier to get a replacement passport (if that was one of the items stolen) when you have a police report in hand.
- Make sure you have the most awesome support system around you to help (both at home, back in the office and with you on the road). This can make the burden much easier to bear.
The Bottom Line
No matter how many times and how many years you have traveled for work or pleasure, there are always lessons to be learned, but hopefully not at your expense. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for me. I hope that by sharing some valuable lessons I learned a few weeks ago, I can save you headaches with any of your future travels. I can guarantee you one thing, I will be smarter next year when Mobile World Congress 2016 rolls around! Happy, safe travels!