When it comes to traveling out of the country for any period of time, there are many things to keep track of. Make it easier on yourself and read the international travel checklist below to ensure you’ve got everything you need for your next trip!
Downloadable International Travel Checklist
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Step 1: Investigate the You’re to
Taking an to a is a lot different from domestically. Here are some things to look for while investigating:
- Cultural Norms (clothing, tipping, traditional gestures, etc.): Think ahead and be prepared for a different way of life. It seems obvious, but it’s a crucial step in understanding where you’re going and who you’re going to be surrounded by. If you’re going to be in a location for some time, it might benefit you to buy a book that shares background information on that or region.
- Useful Phrases: Part of the fun when is hearing other languages and attempting to understand them! Get yourself a small dictionary of the native language if you’re planning on staying in one place for a while. If you’re staying a short while, be sure to look-up simple phrases such as “hello” or “how are you.”
- Currency Exchange Rates: You want to be aware of how your money is being converted into your destination’s . Whether it’s through ATM withdrawals or / transactions, the cost of items will be different, and the value of the could be very different than what you’re accustomed to.
: Having a photo or screenshot of these things can be useful, especially if you’re planning not to have unlimited phone service.
Step 2: Safety First!
This step embodies what your teachers meant when they told you, “better be safe than sorry.” You will be in a whole new sector of the world with different legal proceedings and health measures, so it’s important to prepare now vice worry later.
- The State Department’s Advisories: Be sure to look these up and subscribe to their STEP alerts. STEP stands for “Smart Enrollment Program.” Its goal is to provide free alerts to travelers about areas of possible restrictions, natural disasters, or areas of political unrest. It connects your with the local U.S. Embassy so that if an emergency or conflict occurs while you’re abroad, they have the ability to contact you and keep you safe.
- : can ensure that anything from a broken laptop to a broken bone will be taken care of while you’re overseas. Not to mention, it will save you money in the event of something going wrong!
- Get Vaccinated: You may be exposed to new kinds of conditions when to a different , so be sure you are up to date with the vaccines required for your . The CDC has a list of recommended shots for travelers depending on where they are going. A can also help you keep track of which vaccines or medications you may need. Be sure to keep your vaccination certificate handy in case customs asks you to present it when entering a .
- Medications: Talk to your doctor to make sure you have enough of your prescription(s) to last you the duration of your .
- Food and Water Intake: Be sure to check in on the quality of water and food in the you’re to. You don’t want to end up sick with a parasite! You can validate information like this through websites like Health Pro.
Step 3: Important
- Visas: Depending on where you are going and how long you stay, your may require a —check-in on those here.
- (s): Check your before to ensure they are up to date!
- Insurance Cards: cards, medical insurance cards, etc.
- Tickets or Reservations, and Receipts:, Boarding passes and tickets can be printed prior to to the airport for your . Meanwhile, the receipts will be received once your is dropped at the airport. These items are critical to have in preparation for your flights or other forms of , especially the receipts in case of lost during transit.
- Hotel/Hostel/Airbnb Reservations
- Activity Reservations for when you’re at your
- Identification Cards: Be sure to carry a couple of different forms of identification while .
- Credit Cards and Debit Cards: Be sure to alert your bank and . that you’re so they don’t hinder your transactions overseas. Also, , you may not be able to view your bank account on your mobile device overseas, so be sure to ask your bank. If you cannot, it could be important to ensure that where you’re staying has access to a computer (most hotels, hostels, etc., do). Lastly, research your bank’s policies on international withdrawals and ATM fees before leaving because some require a
- : Depending on the or your and how long you’re staying, you may want to rent a car while overseas. Research where you’re going and whether or not they require an or . If they do, you can apply for one here through AAA.
- TSA Precheck: This could be a valuable investment of your time and money if you plan to travel overseas regularly.
: Keep a scanned copy of these documents with you at all times in case something important like your or gets stolen or lost. It seems ridiculous, but it happens more often than you may think.
Step 4: Good Technology to Have
- Outlet Converters and Adapters: The outlets in the you are to will be different than those you have at home. There are all kinds of adapters/converters out there, so be sure to investigate and buy the one that’s best for your !
- Portable Charger: This can save you, especially if you’re planning on doing some long nature excursions like hikes or trips to the coast where you will be away from electricity.
- Translating Apps: If you’re heading to a that practices a different language than you speak, it can be handy to download a translating app like Google Translate. Apps like these even allow you to take a picture of a sign or map and highlight the portions of text you want to be translated! Pretty handy.
- Download movies or music: These are awesome to listen to and keep you busy while between countries.
Step 5: International Phone Plans
I’ll be honest with you, these can be a real headache to figure out but, if you want to keep in touch with friends or family back home, they are essential. Here are some things to look into:
- Your company may already have a great option for so definitely be sure to check in with them first.
- If your phone company elicits crazy fees for or doesn’t have an option you like, research local phone companies in the area you are to. It’s often easy to switch out the SD card in your phone, and phone companies overseas often have plans that are more accessible for the area you are in.
: carry a paperclip in case you need to swap out your SD card; many phones require you to insert something into a tiny hole to eject the card
My Personal Advice: DO NOT trust the vendors inside airports to provide you with valid SD cards. In my experience, this has gotten me scammed and lost me a good chunk of money. Communicating with local phone companies once you’re in your has proven much more reliable and cost-efficient even if you plan to go to multiple countries. For example, when I studied abroad in Spain, I used a local phone provider that remained operational in other European countries with no extra charge. Do your research!
Step 6: Take Care of Your Home
Before you leave, you may want to appoint a family member, friend, or neighbor to take care of your house for you while you’re gone. Think through your daily tasks and assess how long your is. Who will bring in the mail? Who will feed your animals? Who will water the plants? You want to make sure all is taken care of at home before sitting on a plane over the ocean and realizing you forgot to hold that package you ordered.
: Leave an of your travels with a person you trust at home. Just in case anything goes wrong, this will help your loved ones track you down in times of need.
Step 7: You’re Ready to Pack!
The clothing and items you need while you’re at your vary on where you’re going and for how long. Be sure to make your own for things such as clothing, , etc. However, read the below for some suggestions on good investments to help when it’s time to fill your !
- : These little organizational cubes come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Especially if you are a carry-on, these help you to make the most of the space you have in your and keep your garments organized.
- Waterproof : You never know when your lip-gloss, contact solution, face wash, etc., is going to pop open and leak during . Due to this, a great is to get yourself a waterproof and put any liquid items into sandwich baggies or other plastic bags you might have. Also, if you’re a carry-on, remember that all liquids need to be 3.4 ounces or less and kept in a clear container!
- Locks: Especially if you’re planning on staying in a communal living space like a hostel, it’s smart for you to think ahead and purchase a couple of locks. One larger style one for if the hostel provides lockers for your belongings and smaller ones to lock your bags’ zippers closed if they have that option. It’s great to stay in places like hostels because they are cost-efficient and allow you to meet new people, but don’t be too trusting.
- Tags: These are so helpful and allow you to identify your luggage after long flights easily. Not to mention, if your gets lost or delayed, these can be incredibly useful to airport officials when making sure they’re returning the to its proper owner(s).
- General Medications: Things like Tums, Advil, Melatonin, Band-Aids, Neosporin, etc., can help you through things like stomach issues, minor headaches, or trouble sleeping that happens due to travels. International flights, and a schedule change can confuse your body, so general medications like these are handy to have just in case of minor discomfort.
- Ear Plugs and Eye Mask: If you’re staying in a hostel or communal living space, these can be crucial to getting a good night’s rest. You could end up sharing a room with loud folks or end up in a room with no curtains; you never know, and they’re handy to hang onto.
- Personal Alarm: Especially if you’re alone, having a personal alarm linked to your purse or could help. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- or Antibacterial Wipes: These are great to have when you are on public transportation such as planes, trains, subways, etc.
All of this may seem overwhelming to take in at first, but don’t stress! Remember, you are about to explore a beautiful new . Just take your time, prepare thoroughly, and double-check your checklists and other lists for personal items you don’t want to forget. Be sure to have fun with it too, and plan fun activities for your , read up on local monuments and great places to eat! is exciting. Whether it’s international business or a family , it’s going to be an incredible journey through an unforgettable .