Traveling internationally can be very nerve racking if you have never done it before, but as long as you are prepared there is nothing to worry about. Planning an international trip can easily stress out even the most organized person. We thought we would share our ultimate International Travel Checklist so you can be ready for your first international trip.
We are going to split this up into categories so you can stay organized.
Passport – most countries require you to have a passport valid for at least 6 months from your departure date in order for you to travel. Don’t be the person that gets turned away at customs because of this. check your passport’s expiration date and be sure to renew it in enough time if needed.
Visa (If Applicable) – not every country requires you to apply for a visa prior to entry, but make sure you do your research and are aware of the requirements for your destination. Most countries will allow entry on a tourist visa for a length of 3 months.
Itinerary and pertinent documents – make sure to have copies of your itinerary, your flight and hotel information, and any tickets for activities you have purchased ahead of time in an easily accessible place. You may be asked for this information at customs. One of our biggest tips is to have the address of where you are staying with you at all times. Depending on what country you are flying to, you will most likely have to write that address down on a form that you will fill out on the plane.
Driver’s License or I.D. – in addition to your passport, also be sure to have your valid driver’s license with you. even if you’re not planning on renting a car, you could decide to do something like a vespa tour (like we did in Turks and Caicos) and a valid driver’s license is necessary.
*Be sure to leave copies of all of the above with someone you trust that is not traveling with you in case any item gets lost/stolen you have someone who can easily access all of the necessary information.
HEALTH & SAFTEY
Vaccines (If Applicable) – as with visas, not every country requires you to have specific vaccinations prior to entry, but make sure you do your research and are aware of the requirements for your destination.
Insurance – call your health insurance provider prior to departure to understand what your coverage is (if anything) when traveling overseas.
Call your Bank – don’t forget to notify your bank and and credit card companies that you are leaving the country. Otherwise they will likely block your card as soon as you try to use it with suspicion of fraud. Also be sure to ask about any fees for using your card abroad as these can be quite high. We each have credit cards that do not charge any fees for use internationally, unlike our debit cards, so we are always sure to pay with those credit cards everywhere when traveling to avoid the international transaction fees on top of any exchange rate differences.
Have minimal cash – the easiest (and most cost efficient) way to obtain the foreign currency at your destination is to get it from an ATM upon arrival. Just like you would in the US, be smart and avoid the ATMs that are in open areas and find one that is secure inside of a bank. Most international banks will accept your debit card but will charge a small fee in addition to the exchange rate. We find that this fee is smaller than those currency exchange booths at the airport which is why we always opt for this route. Plus, depending on where you are going, we’ve found when traveling that pretty much everywhere accepts credit cards these days and you need very minimal cash. In Iceland, we didn’t get any cash out at all. everywhere accept credit cards, including the hot dog stands. We spend any leftover cash we have at the airport before we leave, usually on chocolate 🙂
Check the exchange rate – exchange rates fluctuate on a daily basis. As soon as you start planning your trip, start to keep your eye on this. Educate yourself so you know if your home currency is strong or weak and this can help you start to budget the costs of your trip and how much more (or less if you’re lucky) money you’ll need once the exchange rate is considered.
Learn about local customs and laws – this needs to be an integral part of your trip research. educating yourself on these items before departing will help you better understand the country you are visiting and allow you to make the most of your time there. If you’re ever not sure of something, we’ve found that most locals will be happy to share more about their customs and culture with you if you ask.
CARRY ON BAG
Tech – iPad, laptop, headphones, be sure to pack whatever you enjoy using to pass the time. Most planes these days, especially for long haul flights, have in flight entertainment but just in case be sure to load your iPad with books, movies or TV shows to help you pass the time. Netflix allows you to download lots of it’s movies and tv shows now that you can watch with no wifi or data connection needed. Also, if you’re like us and have the iPhone 7 without the headphone jack, be sure that you have a pair of headphones with you that have the traditional headphone jack or you won’t be able to utilize the in-flight entertainment.
Medication – make sure that any medications you require are in your carry on bag, not your checked luggage. Bring things you may not need, like cold medicine, especially if your trip is longer than just a couple of days. Shelby has had some bad luck this year and got a cold when we were in Paris and again when we were in London. Luckily, these both happened to be destinations with pharmacies on practically every corner like in the States, so medication was easily obtained. However this may not be the case at every destination so it’s best to travel prepared.
Toiletries – don’t forget you can only bring liquids in bottles that are 3.4 oz or smaller and all liquids combined must fit in a quart size ziploc bag in your carry on. Full size products can always be in your checked bag, but just in case your luggage is lost, it’s wise to carry your essentials on board with you.
Snacks – We always have snacks in our carry on when traveling. You never know when you may encounter delays, or encounter a foreign cuisine that doesn’t look appetizing. It’s good to have an arsenal of snacks just in case. We like snacks high in protein to help keep our energy up like nuts, Lara Bars, or individual packets of nut butter. We’ve brought several of these Complete Cookies with us on every trip lately which come in handy when you find yourself wide awake at 3am due to jet lag and you’re starving in your hotel room in the middle of the night.
Cozy comfort pieces – even if you are headed to a tropical beach destination, don’t forget to pack some warm cozy pieces for the plane. There is nothing worse than spending several hours shivering on a flight. We always pack a scarf in our carry on that can double as a blanket and some warm cozy socks.
We hope this international travel checklist helps you! Happy travels!