A travel checklist before you start packing for an international trip helps you be organized before travel. If you travel too frequently outside your own country, these might be at your fingertips, or if you travel once in a blue moon, you may spend enough time making sure everything is in place. However if like me you take a few trips every year, this checklist that I prepared for myself might help you avoid last-minute nightmares of traveling abroad.
Documents for an International Trip
International travel requires more documentation than a domestic trip where you can just buy a ticket and board the flight/train/bus. On an international trip, more often than not you require a travel document like a Passport. Sometimes a permit like we Indians require in Bhutan or some regions like North East India needs extra layers of permission documents to travel through them.
International Travel Checklist – Travel documents
This is your travel checklist of documents:
- Check the Validity of your passport – The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel.
- A valid Visa for the dates of travel – this seems obvious, but I have seen cases where the Visa period was less than the travel period and it created a lot of trouble once travelers were out of their country. It is easy to manage it if you see the error in advance and take the necessary action. Some professional agencies like Vietnam-visa.com can help you with visas.
- Ticket to and from the destination – Sometimes travel agents issue tickets for Visa processing but the final tickets are issued later – see that no discrepancy – tickets are for the same dates and destination.
- Check the name on your tickets – It should be exactly the same as it appears on your passport. I once had a ticket issued with a misspelled name and had to run pillar to post to get it corrected.
- Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is mandatory in some places like Europe and is optional in most other places. It is usually advisable to buy travel insurance to cover any unforeseen emergencies and expenses. Having said that I must admit I do not always buy one. I take a call based on if I have a strong support system in the destination or not and if my health conditions are fine or not.
Read More: Do I need to buy Travel Insurance?
Always carry a bit of cash
ATM withdrawals are best when it comes to exchange rates.
However, many banks levy a per-transaction charge so minimize the number of times you withdraw from the ATM.
Carry your credit cards and international debit cards.
If you are a member of any of these
- Frequent flier programs of Airlines or Airline Alliance
- Hotels’ loyalty program
- Shopping chains / Brands loyalty programs
Carry all the cards with you to earn loyalty points that can be as good as saving cash. Read my post on earning free flights using frequent flier programs or credit cards.
If you are not a member consider becoming one.
Read More: How to earn free flights by using your credit cards?
Gadgets et al for International Trips
We all travel with a few essential gadgets – a mobile phone, a camera, laptops or at least a tablet and their respective chargers. You may want to add:
A Universal adapter that works across the world and converts your pins to local pins.
Carry a spike buster if you have too many gadgets and if you are not staying in a recently built place. Most hotels were designed for the pre-gadget era. I do not carry it but missed it many times.
Keep about 15-20% space free in your luggage both by volume and by weight. It takes care of:
- The increase in the volume of used clothes.
- All the shopping that you do.
- All the gifts you may receive.
Remember all that you packed for the last trip and never used – leave all that at home this time.
Remember – the lighter you travel, the happier you travel.
Medicines for International Travel Checklist
This one is important for your International Travel Checklist.
If you take any regular medications as I do for my diabetes, pack at least double the amount of medicine you need for the period of travel.
Keep the two sets of essential medicines in two different places. Getting the same prescription can be tough in some countries, especially without a local doctor’s prescription.
Keep generic medicines for common problems like Cough & cold, headaches, digestion, etc.
Some band-aids help.
Read about the health benefits of Travel on the Well Being Secrets website.
Now every travel writer worth his or her salt would tell you to live on local food. If you are a vegetarian or have food restrictions like you need gluten-free food or if you are allergic to say lactose – make sure you pack a bit of your own food for emergency situations.
I know I need to eat every 2 hours, so I carry a box of nuts with me. Pop in a few nuts and you are good for the next hour or so. Nuts are also a better alternative to chocolates and gums.
I recently discovered this perfect meal to carry along called – MyDaily Meal. It is a ready-to-eat meal, as of now comes in three flavors – plain, vanilla & chocolate. Just put it in a bottle add water, shake for 10-15 seconds, and drink it. I was full with about 60-70% of the contents, which means bigger appetites are taken care of. What I liked about MyDaily meal is that it comes without any preservatives or artificial colors – The perfect reason to add it to my Travel Checklist.
I also carry a small box with cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. No, they are not to add to flavor to food, but they act as a mouth freshener or mild digestives.
I buy fresh fruits as a backup option if the hotel does not provide them.
If you are very particular about the brands you use – carry them with you.
I carry my toothbrush and have a small kit of toothpaste, soap, moisturizer & face wash – that is good enough for 10-12 days. For longer trips, you can always buy or use hotel-provided toiletries.
Since the time Kindle has come into my life, I carry it on all my trips and have well utilized all the waiting time – at airports, in taxis, fighting jet lags, or when insomnia hits.
Carrying books is a thing of the past and they have too much weight to chug along, so drop them from your travel packing list.
Read online, or on your phone, if you do not own a Kindle.
Most good hotels have a small library that you can borrow from to read.
It is a good idea to carry small gifts not only for people you are going to meet but also for people you may accidentally meet.
For people I know I am meeting, I carry what they would like, but in general, I carry some bookmarks and some eatables that I can gift.
PS: Since I have published ‘The Mouse Charmers’ – it has become my de-facto gift item.
General International Travel Checklist
It is advised to carry a small portable umbrella but to be honest I have never carried one. I have been happy 98% of the time that I did not have to carry one more thing but 2% of the time I wished I had one.
My travel packing list includes a cotton Dupatta in my handbag that can act as a shawl, like a towel, Sunscreen, and a seat cover, or any other creative use you can make of it. I have used it to cover my head at religious places or as a pillow when sleeping on an airport chair. Truly a multi-purpose unstitched piece of cloth.
Do you have any tips to add to this International Travel Checklist?
Recommend you to read the following Travel Tips.
Travel Photography: DSLR or Point & Shoot Camera
How to Make Your Credit Card Work for Your Travel Dreams
Do I need to Buy Travel Insurance?
Travel Books that keep my Wanderlust On
very valuable tips that often go unforeseen.
Thank you Dr Karthik, glad you liked my travel tips.
Very good descriptive writeup & guidance with a personal touch of your way of travel. We also do a maticulous planning starting 2002 or so, when my son first travelled to J’berg. For month long trip, we made charts in MS Exel with separate worksheet for each head you have written. A travel guide eas provided by his company. Travel docs with a pouch.(here with experienced that with passport in shirt pocket, the sweet moisten the passport so I got plastic envelope made). First aid+regular medicines etc. everything category wise, we made list. From 2007, my full family join my son in US. We make alterations to our check/carry lists botheays from India & back to India. Based on my experience, reader must creat their on check lists in excel. Plus carrying another set of copies of docs like passport, travel policy, doctor’s prescription/medicine receipt may be additional things.
Thank you, Sh Jain, glad that you liked the post. I just thought this may be useful for people who travel often.
Good advise for new traveller. Thanks for giving trips.
Fleece jacket – Of late, airlines have been keeping the cabin very cold (probably to prevent spreading of germs ?)
Empty water bottle – Fill up every time you pass through security – Again, you don’t have to beg the attendants for little plastic cups of water
Other tips: The lotion in hotel room is fantastic for shining shoes (shoes are also made from leather !!). Plus it smells nicer
Priority Pass – Most credit cards provide this and it gets you lounge access at lots of airports if you are travelling economy
Minimal caffeine and zero alcohol in transit
If you are into Yoga – a combination of headstand, Suryanamaskar and Pranayam helps you get over jet lag within a day
Thank you, Lokesh for adding to the post. All the points you mention are valuable and am adding them to my personal travel checklist.
Medicines, Gadgets, Money & Documents. These are the most important thing to have for International travel. Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable post about International travel
Glad that you liked the post, Sonali. What is your ‘must pack’ item?
Thank you Shrinidhi. I am sure you have something to add to this 🙂
Most of the points are covered and this checklist will make your travel hassle free…!!!
That’s the plan, Datta.
Very useful checklist. Covered all the elements.
Thanks Rohan, glad you found it useful.
Thanks Anuradha. Here are a few other items , based on my travel experience in the last 20 years in many countries:
– Key documents to be backed on google drive for access in case you lose any documents during travel
– Driving license ( with IDP if DL is not in English) when you rent cars overseas
– Roll clothes instead of folding , to save space ( most hotels have irons to press them once you reach)
– MTR Ready to Eat ( similar to Mydailymeal but cover a whole lot of indian dishes)
– Spare spectacles ( not easy to get a replacement without local prescription if you lose/break the originals)
– noise cancelling headphones
– Power pack, USB junction box with USB slots
– Apps such as Expensify and Splitwise for expense recording and splitting
– Apps such as HERE which have offline maps for all countries in the world
will share some more later. Hope the above help.
Thank you, Nand Kishore for adding this valuable information to the post.
Thanks for this very informative information
You are most welcome, Amit.
Very useful tips for a traveler.
Glad you found them useful.
Really Helpful for me
I loved your article and very useful tip for a traveler
great article keep it up.
I loved your article and very useful tip for a traveler
great article keep it up.
woww…I liked the way you have shared these tips..Thank you.
Thank you so much. Your Article has helped me a lot in traveling.
Thank you so much. Your Article has helped me a lot in traveling. There are many Tips and tricks for beginners.
Cash and debit card on hand.
Any medications or vitamins you need.
Sunscreen and bug spray.