Your International Travel Checklist

Busy airport with yellow signs.

International travel

Travelling abroad can be a little more complicated than hopping a domestic flight for a quick getaway. If you forget something, you may not be able to find a replacement once you reach your destination. Lack of planning isn’t just inconvenient – it’s expensive!

Here’s a checklist to help you remember all the little details that will take the stress out of getting ready to go and ensure your adventure stays on the right side of fantastic. 

Before You Book

Having the right travel documents opens the door to someone else’s home, so be sure you know exactly what’s required to be invited in. Check the necessity for:

  • Passports (some countries require them to be valid for at least six months after your arrival)
  • Visas
  • Proof of vaccination (some may need to be administered in multiple doses or several months in advance)
  • Arrival or departure fees
  • Departure ticket

Once you figure out what you need, be sure you have enough time to secure all the right documents before your departure date. You don’t want to spend sleepless nights worrying about whether your passport is going to be issued in time to catch the plane.

When You Book

Consider opting for travel insurance to cover you if you have an unexpected medical emergency either prior to travel or when you’re away. It can cost just a few dollars a day and can potentially save you a bundle if you need to cancel or fly home early.

Take a photo of your passport and other essential documents as soon as you book your travel. If you lose anything or have them stolen, you’ll have a copy on your phone that contains all the information you’ll need to get a temporary replacement.

A Month Before Your Leave

Don’t leave these considerations to the last minute.

  • Make arrangements for pet care.
  • Find a friend willing to check on your home, water plants, or mow the lawn if you’ll be gone for awhile.
  • Have the post office hold your mail if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time.
  • Let your bank and credit card company know that you will be overseas so that they don’t block payment if they see your card being used in an unusual location.
  • If you plan to use your cell phone, talk to your carrier about plans that will make it cheaper to use in a foreign country, or investigate options for an international prepaid SIM card.
  • Begin to accumulate anything you need to take with you other than clothing. Things to read, medications, special toiletries, gifts for foreign hosts etc. Store them in one place and add to the pile as you think of additional items so that you don’t forget anything when the time comes to pack.

A Week Before You Leave

  • Download a few movies or some playlists to keep you entertained on the plane.
  • Download maps, guide books and other tourist information if you don’t plan to carry hardcopies.
  • Make sure you have a bag or pack that complies with your airline’s carry-on policy if you want to bring your gear on board.

The Day Before You Go

  • Charge all your electronics.
  • Take a photo of your suitcase once it’s packed in case your luggage gets lost. That will make it easier to remember what’s inside if you have to make a claim.

Before You Leave the House

Double-check to make sure all of your essentials are in the “personal item” you’ll be taking on the plane with you. These should include:

  • Travel documents and identification
  • Bank and credit cards
  • Cash in both your local currency and that of your destination
  • A pen
  • A book or e-reader
  • Electronics and headphones (a portable charger is also handy)
  • Your eye mask and travel sheet (
  • Medication
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • A few snacks 

If you take the time to plan ahead, you’ll be easing a lot of the stress that can go along with travelling internationally. Start early and write things down as you think of them. And it’s OK to get excited. Have an awesome trip!