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. In an international trip, more often than not you require a travel document like a Passport. Sometimes a permit like we Indians requires in Bhutan or some regions like North East India need extra layers of permission documents to travel through them.
Checklist of Travel documents
This is your travel checklist of documents:
- Check the Validity of your passport – 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 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 necessary action. Some professional agencies can help you with Visa as these guys do for Vietnam Visa.
- 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 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 the 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.
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.
This one is important for your 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 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 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 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 – 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 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 the 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 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 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 times that I did not have to carry one more thing but 2% of the times 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, like the 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.