There are so many things to do before traveling internationally. Forgetting one little detail can really negatively affect your trip. So while your head is spinning with all of the tasks you have to complete, keep this handy list nearby. I will include a free printable so that you can tick things off as you go.
Things to do before traveling internationally
- Check your passport expiration date to make sure it doesn’t need renewal. Follow the six month rule, which states that your passport should not expire within 6 months of your travel time. Some countries will not allow you in if your passport is due to expire soon.
- Book your flight, hotel and transportation from the airport to your destination. Some hotels offer a free shuttle, so inquire about that. You don’t want to arrive to a new country in the middle of the night with no way of getting to your hotel.
- Save your hotel name and address in your phone so you can use google maps to find it. Customs will want to know the address you will be staying.
- Purchase trip insurance. I recommend World Nomad. This will give you coverage if you become ill during your trip or will reimburse you if anything gets cancelled.
- Print any tickets you purchased for attractions during your trip. Don’t rely on WIFI. Print or screenshot a copy of everything.
- Call your bank and notify them of your travel plans. Do this for each credit card you plan to bring. This is important! If your bank sees a foreign transaction on your card, they will shut it down for security. I would plan to bring two cards in case something happens to one of them. Also take a peek at your foreign transaction fees. Certain cards will charge you to use them abroad. I use my Jet Blue card because there are no foreign transaction fees.
- Check out your international phone plan options. You will have to contact your carrier, because they are all different. I have At&T and have an international day plan on my account. I pay about $10 a day for unlimited usage. If you don’t have a plan, you will want to turn off roaming and only use your phone when you are connected to WIFI otherwise you will come home to a whopping bill.
- Figure out how much currency you want to carry. I bring enough US dollars to convert at the airport, because it is usually the best conversion rate. You can also withdraw money from an ATM at the airport, but you will probably incur a fee. Most AAA branches will sell you other currencies if you want to do it before you leave. I typically carry about $200 in cash and then use my credit card whenever I can.
- Leave a copy of your flight and itinerary with your family so they know where you are. If you are traveling solo, turn on Find my Friends so that loved ones can track you.
- Print out a packing list so you don’t forget anything.
- Check the weather for your destination and pack accordingly. I add my destination to iPhone weather.
- Check which type of outlet the country uses and purchase an adapter.
- Be sure you have any prescriptions filled for your trip.
- Decide on the luggage you will take. Check with your airline to see if you will be charged to check a bag. I prefer carry-on only because if avoids your luggage getting lost, you don’t have to wait around at baggage claim, and most airlines now charge a large fee to check a bag. I have learned to be a minimalist packer and it is so much easier.
- Consider your destination when choosing your luggage. My favorite luggage to bring is Away’s Bigger Carry-On. But if I will be going on more of a backpacking adventure, I will use my Cotopaxi 35L backpack. For example, I knew I wouldn’t be rolling luggage around Egypt and a backpack style would be easier. If you do carry-on only, you will be allowed a small suitcase as well as a personal item.
- For a personal item, I prefer to carry a tote style bag that converts to a backpack. My favorites are: Lily Bag by Lole or Totepack No 4 Wide by Fjall Raven. These bags can safely carry a laptop and can be used as a day bag while at my destination.
- Away also sells a great bag that would count as a personal item called The Everywhere Bag.
- Download books to your Kindle and shows to your iPad. Netflix allows you to download shows you can watch even when you don’t have a WIFI connection.
- Charge all of your devices (laptop, camera, phone, iPad). Keep a charging cable handy because most planes and airport will have a charging station available. I also highly recommend traveling with a portable charging device.
Traveling internationally with children-
- Let the school know if your children will be absent and see if there is any homework they should complete.
- If you are traveling outside of the country with your kids but not your spouse, you should carry a permission letter signed by them and have it notarized. When traveling to France with Andrew, nobody asked for it. But when we went to Canada, border control asked if I had permission to take him out of the country and wanted to see a letter. They even asked my son directly if he wanted to be there. This is to prevent parents taking a child during a divorce or even kidnappings so it is taken very seriously.
- I highly recommend giving them each child an AirTag from the Apple store. They are inexpensive and allow you to see their location on your phone at any time. It gave me piece of mind when walking through large crowds.
- Download the app for your airline so they can easily notify you of any changes and you have easy access to your boarding pass. I also recommend downloading the XE currently converter app as well as Google Translate.
Around the house-
- Arrange for pet care. Leave a list of instructions and the phone number for the vet. Be sure there is enough food for while you are away as well as any medications they may need.
- Got plants? Make sure you have someone to water them while you are gone.
- Have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail/ newspaper. A pile of newspapers in the driveway is a signal to burglars that you are away. Depending on how long you are gone, you can also have the post office hold your mail.
- Clean out fridge
- Turn down heat
There are so many things to do before an international trip, it makes my head spin to think about. I hope this list helps you remember all of the important tasks to complete so that you can relax and have a stress-free trip.
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