Checklist For International Travel

luggage
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Follow These Guidelines

And Become The Savvy Traveller

Whether you are a frequent flyer or traveller, or this is your first vacation you’ve ever been on, here are some fabulous tips and a few hard rules.

If you follow these, you will never feel overwhelmed or panic that you are forgetting to bring, or do something.

BE PREPARED

In the weeks leading up to your flight and vacation.

passports
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PASSPORT

Check where your passport is, this means being able to put your hands on it immediately, not thinking vaguely hmm “it’s in a safe”!

Also make sure your passport is in date. It would be really terrible to realise a day or even minutes before your fight that your passport is not in date. Some (a growing number) countries require your passport to have six months from your entry date. It is best to check with your passport office to see the requirements for the county you’re travelling to.

If you need to renew a passport (we just had to do this for my son), make sure to apply for your new passport in plenty of time, remember in high season a passport may take up to six weeks (or more) to be returned – that is providing all the relevant details and requirement were met.  If you forget to send something, forms are unclear, file size is too big, or the passport office require additional information / forms, then this will prolong your passport turnaround time – a potential disaster!

If there are special circumstances you may have to wait up til 3 months!  Trust me – we have endured this.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Flight – Sounds basic, but double check you have your flight booked, and that it is departing from the correct airport, and on the correct date. You will require a confirmation if using a travel agent, and get a receipt.

Frequent Flyer – Check if your airline has a frequent flyer programme. Most are free to join, so do that now Not something your travel agent will do for you.

BOOK YOUR ONWARD FLIGHT

Don’t forget this one! No ticket out, and you might not be allowed in to your destination.

VACCINATION

Talk with your doctor as to what countries you plan on visiting, and they will advise you on what vaccines you can carry (or you can visit a travel medical centre).

Be aware if you are going to several countries or developing countries, you may need a series of immunisations, and the top-ups might occur in a foreign country. Also be aware if you don’t need a certain vaccine immediately, then you can have the vaccine later in your trip. Often they are less expensive in other countries too.

They will also advise you about medications you can bring legally on a flight or cruise.

A tip from me: purchasing malaria tablets for example in a country where malaria is prevalent, is a lot less expensive than say Australia. Just get enough for the pre-entry to that country. Don’t carry past the use-by date so no buying too far in advance either.

Remember, some countries require your Immunisation Card, so carry this with you. You may be asked for this on entry or exit. I have had to show mine departing a country in South America for example, and on entry to Australia.

INSURANCE

Put some time into ‘shopping around’ or ‘surfing the net’, and researching travel insurance, as there are so many options available. Make sure you are getting the best policy for your needs and budget, and it covers all the countries you go to, and the entire period, and all your items, and medical needs (i.e. some don’t cover dental emergencies). Tip from me: Check too if you can claim whilst traveling, or have to wait until you return home – a one year trip can mean you carry the expenses for up to a year – this is a no-no.

It is not law to have travel insurance, but there are some countries that require you to have it – check this out.

Read the policy. If you need to go to hospital, you may have to notify your policy company immediately – if travelling alone, this might prove difficult in an emergency.

Also: some Credit Card companies now offer free insurance. I recently discovered upgrading my Credit Card, also gave me great complimentary Travel Insurance.

Plus – a complimentary entry to an International Airport private lounge.

VISA

Apply for any visas if they are needed. Read up. You may need to take time for this or even attend an interview at the consulate.

Get yourself a spare set of passport photos, and pack them too. Handy for these occasions.

Sometimes transit visas are also required. Check this.

MAIL REDIRECTION

I nearly forgot this one last time – make sure you give notice 10-14 days prior to departure.

YOU’RE GETTING CLOSE

In the days before you go.

PAPERWORK

Make digital (email them to yourself) and paper copies of all documentation you need e.g. passports, accommodation details, rough/accurate itinerary, visas, insurance, and insurance details.

Always carry a paper copy of all your passports with you. Give one to a trustworthy friend or close family member at home, and store copies of each on a digital platform such as ‘Dropbox’.

Even if the worst you fear was to occur to you, and your items got stolen … you will still have access to them from online sources. If your laptop is stolen, you can still go into an internet café and read your emails! Do this with your travel  insurance too (plus give a copy to your emergency contact).

PACKING

Make a packing list, and get everything you need organised. There is absolutely no point in rushing around at the last minute for everything, as you will end up so stressed out. that you won’t enjoy yourself, plus you will forget things you need, and pack things you don’t need.

APPS ON YOUR PHONE

Maps – We use an iPhone APP called MAPS.ME because they work offline.  One task is to ensure our destination map is downloaded.

Budget – I keep track of what we spend using CASH VAULT. This can then be used for budgeting

Currency Conversion – You may like to download a currency Conversion App. XE CURRENCY works offline.

These are good tasks for your tech savvy kids, like Explorason.

TECHNOLOGY

Back-up Drives – We also always cary a portable Tb drive to back up our photos.  We have had 3 laptops have accidents in our travels and none of the incidents have been our fault.  This is invaluable. (Try to backup regularly on your trip).

Adapters and Cords – We label and check we have the right adapters and charging cords for everything.  If the same cord fits 3 items just bring 1-2 cords, and try to save space.

WEIGH YOU LUGGAGE

Weigh your case now – if it is over, you have time to repack. Try to be underweight when you leave – you will have room for souvenirs and shopping. If need be,

If need be, buy a little set of hand scales. Smaller and budget airlines allow less hand luggage weight too.

Smaller and budget airlines allow less hand luggage weight too.

International airlines like Scoot will allow and extra 3kg hand luggage if you have a laptop.

See our latest cruise article for some great tips.

currency
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CURRENCY

Note / write down the currency conversion for where you are going in your travel note book, or ‘phone notes’. (You’ll thank me for this tip!)

Buy an international Travel Money Card. Register it. Load it up. Ensure it is one with your bank you can transfer money in your account without an overnight or weekend wait for funds.

Change over your currency if needed to local currency in advance, and inform your bank that you plan to be away, and the dates you will be gone – especially for credit and debit cards. Do keep in mind currency limits when departing and entering countries. You can’t carry wads of money anymore.

These days I rarely do this, and tend to pull out currency at the airport ATM when I arrive.

But you need to refer to your currency conversion or you won’t have a clue to the value of money you are removing from your account.

There is nothing worse than not being able to use your ATM card while away if they have blocked it.

ID AND LICENCE

It is a good idea to pack your Drivers Licence as added ID when you are traveling. I’ve not needed an international drivers licence, but some feel better having one.

ACCOMMODATION ADDRESS

Book your first night’s accommodation. Make sure you have written down or popped in you phone the name and address and phone number of where you are staying. Some countries require your first night; some your entire itinerary.

WEATHER

Check the weather (and international news) so you are aware of what is happening where you are going. You may need to add or take out some packing items. 

pack spare clothes
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TIME TO TAKE OFF!

On the day you travel.

THE CARRY-ON BAG

Have a small carry-on bag (which you have previously prepared) with your items such as passport, chargers, adapter, toothpaste/brush, spare set of clothes, and fresh lingerie / underwear, reading material be it a book or kindle, something to entertain you for the flight and one set of paper documents. Do this for each member travelling with you in your family. Here are some more travel tips for traveling with children.

This will be very useful is the worst should happen and your luggage gets delayed at the destination. Or worse still, if your flight is delayed. I had a 48 hour delay once. Trust me, you don’t want that without a fresh set of undies and a clean set of clothes. also useful if a child becomes ill.

Mini medical pack with any medication you need (use ziplock plastic bags and make sure you have small ml size).

Lastly,  Pack your camera; your courage; your sense of adventure; and have a great time!

Have we missed anything on the list that you can suggest to do prior to starting your trip? Please tell us in the comments below.

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14 comments

  1. All excellent reminders. I had a friend who wasted a week of her vacation time when she was refused boarding because her passport wasn’t valid for 6 months after her trip. (And, in the US where people get precious little vacation time, this was a big disappointment for her.)

    1. Hi Suzanne – your poor friend!! We just waited ages for a passport renewal with lost forms, email bouncing, and all sorts of dramas that took weeks and weeks, so this post was written out of first hand experience. I hope it helps others avoid any troubles, and allow smooth sailing or flying. Happy travels from us both to you.

  2. We are dedicated list makers and your suggestions tick off all our boxes too. I especially recommend storing scanned copies of your travel documents, insurance policies, medical history and current medications as well as useful addresses and contact info in the cloud (we love Dropbox too) and sharing the password link with a trusted friend or family member in case of emergency. And then, bon voyage!

  3. Great list and I do them all except for one…..I might start carrying a spare set of passport photos! As for my carry-on bag, I always assume the worst so I carry what you listed and definitely all my chargers. Can’t believe how much stuff I have, though! My bags have been delayed a couple of times, but fortunately these were trips coming home. I would have been so ticked off if had been the other way around.

    1. Thanks Janice – bag delays are the pits. At least it was coming home. I had no bag for 2 days and I was in a wedding (bridesmaid) a long time ago and never forgotten how horrid I felt. I’m glad you popped by and hope you enjoy your travels.

  4. Good tips. I too backup my photos – to a portable drive and/or to the cloud as well as my laptop. I’ve never used an international Travel Money Card, but will look into that for my next international trip. Another tip is to have a photocopy and/or digital copy of your passport. I’ve not needed to use this yet, but should a passport get lost or stolen it would help get through the temporary replacement process to get back home.

    1. Make sure you get a TMC that links to your bank. I had one that didnt and had to wait for next day or weekend banking to clear funds. No good in an emergency or when you forget to top up because after all traveling can be hectic.

    1. Yes Carole I agree – the older I get, the less I want to ‘keep in my head’ too.
      We are stating checklists now to save time, and problems.
      Hope it helps you next time you head overseas.

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