Things I’ve learned the Hard Way.

I’ve always found travel—especially international travel—to be stimulating, interesting, and almost addicting. But it’s too easy to relax, ignoring or forgetting what appear to be small details both in the planning and in the doing. Here’s a kind of check list I’ve compiled over the years. The first three are particularly important and can avoid travel disruptions … even disasters.

1— ALWAYS have a back-up credit card when you travel. What if someone back home sees an unfamiliar charge on the current statement and asks your credit card company to check. If that perfectly legitimate phone call triggers a fraud alert, the only credit card in your wallet card could suddenly stop working just as you’re about to check out of your hotel in Paris . . . ?

2—ALWAYS check the expiration date on your passport well in advance of your departure. Several foreign countries will not honor a passport if it’s going to expire less than six months in the future. Just imagine being prevented from boarding an international flight that was to be the start of a once-in-a-lifetime European vacation … a prepaid vacation. Ouch!

3—NEVER pack either your passport or your prescription medications in checked luggage. If your bag is lost or stolen or sent to Rome while you’re headed to Oslo, you’re screwed.

Here are three more, the consequences of which probably won’t be all that serious, but will certainly be inconvenient:

4—MAKE SURE baggage tags are securely fastened to every piece of luggage and that the information on the tags is up-to-date and complete.

5—UPGRADE your smart phone service before you leave on a foreign trip with an international text, datadata, and voice plan. If you don’t, once you leave the U.S., your smart phone will probably be useless.

6—BRING the right electrical adapters so you can charge your phone or use your computer and other electronic devices no matter what country you’re in. The hotel will be glad to loan you one, but what if they’re out?

7-MAKE A COLOR COPY of the page in your passport that includes your photo, your passport number and other personal information. How much of that stuff could you remember under stress?

8-FINALLY do not overpack! Travel guru Rick Steves says it best: “There are only two kinds of travelers: those who are traveling light and those who wish they were.”