A Checklist for International Travel - Intentional Travelers
A Checklist for International Travel | Intentional Travelers

03 Feb A Checklist for International Travel

When planning a trip abroad, there are a number of important things to do before your departure. The last thing you want is to arrive to your destination, only to realize that your passport is expiring or you left something important at home. We’ve put together this simple checklist from our own international travel experience so that it might help others be more prepared as well.

To Do List: Well in Advance

  • Ensure that your passport will be valid for 6 months after you arrive at your destination. Some countries may not let you in if your passport expires within 6 months.
  • Research the best method for making payments in your destination country. Are credit cards widely accepted and if so, do vendors require chip-enabled cards? Is it worth getting foreign currency before your arrival or will an ATM card suffice?
  • Evaluate whether you’ll want travel insurance in case of evacuation or canceled flights.
  • Find out if a tourist visa is required for your country and apply if needed.
  • Research the best way to get from the airport to your accommodations. If necessary, save an offline map to your phone or print out directions.
  • Research the basic cultural customs of your destination, like how do people greet each other, how does tipping work, what behaviors and clothing are appropriate in different public spaces.
  • Research your phone options. If you want to make calls and texts abroad, research the local phone companies where you might be able to get a local SIM (if this is the case, make sure you have an unlocked phone). WithT-Mobile, you might get free texting, data, and wifi calling with your normal phone plan.
  • Find out if you need any vaccines and schedule those appointments. Check out the country recommendations on the Center for Disease Control site.

To Do List: One or Two Weeks Before

  • Set out your essential items (See priority packing list below.) Having everything in order will help ensure these items don’t get left out when you pack. Make sure your passport is packed somewhere that’s easy to retrieve and where you won’t forget!
  • Charge all your electronics and load them with any entertainment or reading materials you want during the trip.
  • Create an offline info sheet. This can be in the offline notes of your phone, in an app like TripIt, or on a piece of paper. It should include things like: the address and phone number of your accommodations, reservation confirmation numbers, a list of recommended places to visit, addresses for anyone you want to mail postcards to, etc.
  • Download any smartphone apps you might want, like offline maps, currency convertors, or language translators. See our favorite travel apps here.
  • Put your mail on hold or arrange for someone to take care of it while you’re gone.
  • Make a color copy of the photo page in your passport. Keep it in your carry-on and then keep it separate from your actual passport while you travel, in case the real one disappears.
  • Notify your credit card and ATM card companies of your travel. Sometimes you can do this through an online account, but usually you just call the number on the back of the card and tell them when and where you’re going.
  • Get any cash or foreign currency you need.

Priority Packing List

Obviously you’re going to pack a lot more than what is listed below. We call these priority items because it can be a big pain if you forget them.

  • Socks and underwear (the easiest essential clothing to forget)
  • Passport
  • Credit card
  • ATM card
  • Cash/Local currency
  • Prescription medications
  • Drivers license/ID
  • Contact info and directions for first destination
  • Pen to use for the customs form on the plane

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Jedd with double backpacks in Copenhagen

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