Rick Steves Says To Always Do These Things Before Traveling

Packing your suitcase, creating an itinerary, tidying the house — travelers are all too familiar with the basics of pre-trip preparation. Still, you can easily neglect those not-so-obvious tasks due to a lack of time or memory. Preparing for a trip is often an intricate process that requires careful and timely planning. Not sure where to start? Thankfully, we have travel expert Rick Steves in our corner.


As a travel show host, founder of "Rick Steves' Europe," and seasoned traveler, Steves brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the industry. On numerous occasions, he's shared extensive tips about the ins and outs of travel preparation. Steves is particularly well-versed in international travel, as he told Forbes, "Except for two years of pandemic, I've spent 100 days a year exploring Europe every year since the mid 1970s." Planning for international travel is a different beast, and Steves has highlighted the non-negotiables of preparing for a trip abroad, too. Without further ado, let's unpack Steves' checklist essentials.

Handle health-related matters and medical needs

Unsurprisingly, according to Rick Steves' website, getting health-related matters squared away is one of his must-do pre-travel tips. Whether a routine check-up or dental procedure, it's crucial to fit in necessary medical appointments before traveling. Additionally, make sure you have enough of your prescription medications. It's a good idea to bring the actual prescription on your trip, too.


Steves shared with The Denver Post that international travelers should ask their health insurance provider about their coverage plan. He also advised considering travel insurance. "This can minimize the financial risks of a vacation," he explained. Weigh the pros and cons of insurance for your particular set of circumstances. "Your potential loss varies, depending on factors such as your health, how much of your trip is prepaid, the refundability of your air ticket, and what coverage you already have (through your medical, homeowners', or renters' insurance, and/or credit card)," Steves added. The host highlighted trip cancellation and interruption insurance as his top picks.

Verify travel documents and payment cards

Rick Steves has emphasized the importance of verifying travel documents on his website. Are you renting a car on vacation? Renew your driver's license if necessary. You should also renew passports set to expire within six months of your return date. Per The Denver Post, Steves said, "You may be denied entry into certain countries if your passport will expire within three to six months of your ticketed date of return." The renewal process can take up to eight weeks, so plan accordingly. In addition, Steves advises travelers to have backup copies of travel documents as a security net. Consider bringing one passport copy and leaving one copy behind with someone trusted and reliable.


Traveling abroad comes with its own agenda, especially regarding those wallet essentials. If you're headed to another country, Steves suggests smoothing out details with your debit and credit card companies. "This will ensure that they don't decline foreign transactions. While you have them on the line, confirm your debit card's daily withdrawal limit, request an increase if you want, and ask about fees for international transactions," Steves told The Denver Post.

Make reservations to avoid long lines

While throngs of tourists can sometimes be unavoidable, pre-planning certain activities should improve sightseeing experiences. Rick Steves shared with Travel + Leisure that he is a big proponent of booking reservations for popular sights, as this can significantly cut down wait times for travelers. If you're going to Amsterdam, for example, make reservations for the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum well in advance, said Steves. As he suggests on his website, a museum pass could be economical. Do you plan to visit the Paris Museum a few times? A pass should come in handy for beating lines and staying on budget.


Numerous hot spots now provide timed reservations, allowing visitors to skip standard lines. Steves told Business Insider, "Take advantage of this fast and easy alternative to standing in needless lines." Further minimize waiting by following "any good up-to-date guidebook," he added. These manuals include shifts in reservation systems and current visiting hours, making them useful for many reasons. Steves wrote on his website about trips in Europe, "Guidebooks are $20 tools for $3,000 experiences. Saving money by not buying one is penny-wise and pound-foolish."

Complete your travel tech checklist

When traveling with technology, it's best to prepare for the worst. On his website, Rick Steves encourages travelers to create a detailed list of valuable electronic devices they intend to pack. Along with photos of these devices, record serial numbers, models, and makes. In the unfortunate case of theft, this information will be crucial when filing an insurance claim or communicating with authorities.


There are several other technology-centered travel tasks to check off your to-do list. What's your move regarding Wi-Fi? Steves told The Denver Post, "If you plan to use your U.S. mobile phone in Europe, consider signing up for an international calling, text, and/or data plan, and confirm voice- and data-roaming fees." With or without service, you'll want to arrive prepared. Before your trip, download essential tools and apps like maps, transit schedules, and translators. Of course, don't forget to download your go-to entertainment programs, too.

Do some creative exploring beforehand

Beyond logistical recommendations about travel preparation, Rick Steves believes in exploring creatively to enhance your trip. When it comes to viewing artistic and cultural sights, Steves is all for getting a headstart. He recommends doing relevant research beforehand to get the most out of museum visits. He told The Seattle Times, "I can't get you into the Prado Museum cheaper than anybody else, but if you know a little bit about art history when you go to the Prado, it's going to be much more rewarding."


As far as booking your accommodations, Steves has some sound advice. In an interview with Business Insider, the travel host relayed the value of choosing local lodging instead of big-name hotels. Not only will a unique locale give your trip an authentic feel, but it could also keep your budget in check. Steves told Forbes, "Stay in cozy local-style mom & pop accommodations (family-run guest houses, B&Bs, small simple hotels)." That extra forethought could significantly elevate your trip!