Preparing for international travel (again)

I've been mostly in the country for the past few months, but my travels start up again in a few weeks. In the next four months, I'll be going to Colombia, France, Japan and Papua New Guinea. There are a few things I always do periodically to make sure I'm ready for international travel:

1. Make sure travel health insurance is up to date. I just purchased a 12-month, multi-trip policy from HTH Worldwide called Travel Gap. It's relatively inexpensive ($159 for "gold" coverage), but is health insurance only, meaning that it doesn't cover trip delays, lost baggage, etc. It also features only minimal coverage for skiing and scuba diving, but since I have DAN coverage (see below), this isn't a problem. I prefer multi-trip coverage because I travel so much that it is impractical to purchase a new policy for every trip.

2. Make sure DAN insurance is current. DAN is a must for scuba divers, and on our Wetpixel expeditions, we require coverage.

3. Make sure equipment insurance is up to date. I have used both DEPP and DAN insurance for my underwater camera gear, and recommend both.

4. Charge up Iridium satellite phone. At $1.30/minute (500 minutes pre-paid), it's always cheaper (per minute) to use a satellite phone than it is to use a mobile phone. Roadpost is my preferred pre-paid minute vendor. With a single email, my account representative can charge up my account using a credit card on file.

5. Be sure my mobile phone provider unlocks international roaming. There is nothing worse than having to use a pay phone to call AT&T or Verizon from abroad to activate roaming. I've done it more than once, and it's expensive and annoying.

6. Subscribe to XGate compressed satellite email service. XGate is my preferred service because it allows me to continue to use my existing email program while doing all the things you want satellite email to do (namely, eliminate unnecessary network round trips, compress data streams, and allow attachment management). Email via satellite phone is impossible without a service like this. When I'm connected via satellite, I also use Little Snitch (Mac OS X) to ensure that only XGate has network access. This prevents applications from doing things like auto-updating on a 2400 baud connection. :)