Your International Travel Checklist: 27+ Essentials

Your International Travel Checklist: 27+ Essentials

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Whether you’re flying between continents, embarking on a cruise, or taking a cross-border train, traveling internationally can be a thrilling experience. However, to get the most out of your journey, you’ll want to plan carefully. 

Each country has its own unique entry requirements, and many comforts you’re used to might not be available everywhere you go. A comprehensive checklist helps you stay organized so you don’t forget crucial items or tasks. 

In this guide, we explore the reasons you need an international travel checklist and the essential things it should include.   

Why You Need an International Travel Checklist 

Purchasing travel tickets and booking hotels is an exciting part of international travel, but there’s lots more to keep in mind. A checklist is a failsafe that prevents you from overlooking critical steps, such as securing visas, that could put a damper on your journey if not completed.   

If navigating new environments and unexpected challenges is stressful, a checklist can help reduce anxiety. By following a checklist, you can feel more confident knowing that you’ve made all the necessary preparations. 

Things to Do Before International Travel

Here’s a list of important steps to take before departing on an international trip: 

1. Obtain Travel Documents

Your passport is one of the most important items for international travel because you can’t get across a border without it. If you don’t have a passport, you can fill out the Department of State form DS-11 online or at a passport agency to begin the process.

Be aware that processing times can take 6-8 weeks, though expedited processing is available for an added fee. If you already have a passport, ensure it’s valid for at least six months past your intended return date. 

Though many countries allow visa-free travel for US passport holders, you’ll want to check your destination’s requirements beforehand. The process for securing visas differs by country; some nations require applying through their embassy or consulate, while others will issue a visa upon arrival. Costs can also vary widely. Make sure to budget accordingly and allot plenty of time for your destination country to process your application.

2. Secure Travel Insurance

A comprehensive travel insurance policy provides peace of mind and financial protection against unforeseen circumstances when you’re trotting the globe. As with other types of insurance, you’ll pay a premium based on specific risk factors, such as your age, trip duration, cost, and destination. Trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost luggage are much less of a headache when you’re covered by a reputable insurance provider. 

We recommend comparing travel insurance policies from multiple sources and providers to make sure you get the best policy at the best price. Our comparison platform makes it easy to get quotes from top-rated providers in just a few clicks. Many travel credit cards and airlines also offer travel protection plans to their customers, which may be worth considering as you plan your trip.  

3. Take Health Precautions

Traveling internationally means putting your body in environments and situations it’s not used to, which can lead to illness or injury. Consult with your physician to receive essential vaccinations and preventive medications based on your health history and travel plans. They can also advise you on strategies to prevent travel-related illnesses, such as how to evaluate food and water sources for safety. 

4. Notify Your Bank and Emergency Contacts

Most financial institutions have security measures in place for unusual activity, such as making purchases in a foreign country. Triggering one of these alerts may automatically decline the transaction. Providing your bank or credit union with your travel details helps ensure your overseas shopping excursions go smoothly. 

Informing your emergency contacts about your itinerary, including arrival/departure times and where you’re staying, is a wise move for safety, so someone knows your whereabouts and has alternate means of contacting you in case of an unexpected event.  

5. Research your destination

Travel advisories and weather forecasts are two important things to research before visiting foreign countries. You can check the US Department of State or World Health Organization for reputable information about potential risks, such as political conflict, public health issues, and so on.   

On a more positive note, learning all about your destination countries helps you build familiarity with local customs, traditions, and mannerisms. Knowing how the locals operate can lead to a more engaging experience. It can also help you avoid cultural faux pas that could offend people in your host country.  

Things to Bring When Traveling Internationally

Here’s what to pack to ensure a safe, exciting trip overseas:

Travel Essentials

  1. Passport and other travel documents
  2. Money and credit/debit cards
  3. Travel itinerary and contact information for accommodations 
  4. List of emergency contacts
  5. Travel-sized toiletries 
  6. Neck pillow and blanket
  7. Travel guidebooks

Clothing and Accessories

  1. Weather-appropriate clothing for your destination
  2. Swimwear (if applicable)
  3. Comfortable shoes for walking
  4. Lightweight jacket or sweater for layering
  5. Sunglasses and sunscreen

Technology and Entertainment

  1. Smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop 
  2. Camera and other portable photography equipment (such as tripods, extra lenses)
  3. Books or an e-reader
  4. Portable charger
  5. Travel adapter and voltage converter
  6. Headphones or earbuds

Safety and security 

  1. Money belt or concealed storage for valuables
  2. Personal safety alarm or whistle
  3. Luggage locks and/or cable ties for securing luggage
  4. Digital or physical copy of important documents (passport, ID, travel insurance) 

An international travel checklist is your ticket to a well-prepared trip abroad. By following the steps outlined in this guide and using resources like Squaremouth for travel insurance, you can embark on your adventure with confidence, ready for whatever the world has in store. 

By Casey Clague