Wow. Okay. A week from today. The UK. I can do this!

But first I have to: help my oldest son pass the 8th grade, attend my daughter’s ballet dress rehearsal and performance, get my youngest son signed up for the MS football team, administer and grade four sets of final exams, get the Varsity cheerleaders fitted for new uniforms and signed up for camp, practice the “duck walk” my producer tells me I need for filming, make sure my husband is all set for food at home for three weeks, pack for our family beach vacation that starts the day we get back ….and BREATHE! Don’t forget the breathing.

We did mention we were MOMS, right? We specialize in multi-tasking. And we love what we do. All of it. (Okay, maybe not ALL of it!) But we are excited to not have to do laundry, help kids with homework, break up sibling spats, cook, and clean. But there are little trip-related tasks that need done on the front end to make the trip go smoothly. You know, minor details -things like making sure the debit card does not get locked down. The nitty-gritty things that are easy to overlook.

My mantra is this: DO THE NEXT THING. If I thought of it all at once, I would freak out. So I just do the next thing before me. That, I can do. And step-by-step, it will all get done, and I will be on a plane in a week, enjoying the journey! (So of course, blogging about it a paramount step right now, right?)

So, about the nitty-gritty. Here are a few things on the to-do list that may be overlooked. I would say 2 weeks out is a smart time to do these. (Let’s just say I am a bit inside that 2-week schedule at this point….)

  • Call the bank and credit card companies. Find out what they charge for international transactions for your debit/ATM /credit cards, just so you are aware. Find out if they have a partner bank in the country you will be in. If so, you may avoid extra charges for using their ATM. (My bank partners with Barclays in the UK, so I do not get charged a fee at the ATM)
  • Also, let them know the dates and destinations of your trip so they do not shut down your account when they see a charge from the other side of the world! Find out how to contact / call them from the foreign country in case that does happen, or in case your card is stolen or is lost while abroad.
  •   Make 2-3 copies of your passport. Leave one at home. Pack one in your suitcase. Give one for your friend to pack in her suitcase. If yours is lost or stolen, a copy will help the process at the Embassy of getting replacement.
  •   Type out your itinerary to leave home with contact information of your lodgings. Include dialing instructions (easily found online) for your family.
  • Get some foreign currency from your bank. Not a lot. Enough to get you by the first day. Banks will usually have a minimum. Whatever that amount is…probably plenty. The rate on this side will not be as good as the rate over there, and you will likely be charged a fee, but it is worth it to not have to worry about money when you land.
  • If you are taking your cell phone, be sure to call the company and find out about the charges, etc and how to make calls home and calls within the countries you will be visiting.
  • Some rental cars have built-in GPS (SAT-NAV in the UK – isn’t that so cute!). But that can be an extra charge. We ordered an SD card for the UK from Garmin that goes in our GPS. When we got in our car in London, we popped in the card, and BAM! We were in London Heathrow traffic – traffic circles and all! Within 5 minutes we agreed that was the BEST $70 we had ever spent!!!! The only upsetting part… British accent. Same monotone voice as at home. I mean for $70, at least it should convert to a British accent!
  •  Look up and write down (for the UK) all the postal codes for you hotels, restaurants, sites. These are the numbers you will type into the Sat-Nav to get you where you want to go. WAY easier than typing in addresses and trying to read maps.
  • I keep a little notebook in my purse with all these numbers and instructions, as well as the names and phone numbers of all our lodgings. Just in case.

So those are some little before-you-go essentials. I will post more if I think of any. As I typed those, I thought of all the little packing tidbits I have to share…..

But one step at a time…..

Enjoy the journey!