It’s easy to overlook a small but important detail in the excitement of preparing for an overseas trip. You may have perfected your packing list, but there are still a few mundane items that can really make or break a good holiday. Avoid vacation regret by checking off this international travel checklist of 25 things travellers forget to do before they leave home.
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International travel pre-departure checklist
1. Check visa and passport requirements for your destination. Do you need to apply in advance or can you obtain one at the airport on arrival? Confirm with your destination countries website for visa requirements and entry/exit fees that are often required in the exact cash amount and in local currency.
2. Many countries require a minimum of six months left on your passport to enter. If you have less than six months until it expires, you may need to apply for a new one and that takes time.
3. Check required and recommended vaccinations and medications. Some vaccines like rabies, Hepatitis B or Covid-19 require several shots over a number of weeks or months. Don’t leave this until the last minute.
4. Before leaving home, inquire about the safety of drinking tap water. If you need to drink bottled or treated water it is helpful to pack a refillable water bottle and remember your SteriPEN if you have one.
5. Also, know how local water quality impacts food safety. Here is an excellent brochure by the World Health Organisation on general food safety rules for travellers.
6. Purchase appropriate travel insurance for your destination, trip length and activities. Make sure you read the fine print, particularly if you are the adrenaline-junky type. Many adventure activities are excluded from basic travel policies. Frequent or longer-term travellers might consider an annual plan such as Wander Frequent Traveler Insurance by Seven Corners.
7. Figure out the local currency and exchange rate, along with common payment methods in your destination. You may be visiting a mostly cash economy, or they might accept debit and visa cards.
8. If you are using a card for either payment or withdrawing cash, make sure you understand all the fees your bank will impose on you. It may be worth the time to apply for a new card with better international transaction rates. Contact your bank and let them know your itinerary so they don’t freeze your card the first time you try to use it.
9. Make copies of your passport, visa and itinerary and give them to a reliable friend or family member. Also, keep a digital copy in a secure cloud location like Dropbox so you can access them online from your destination if required.
10. Get familiar with local etiquette including tipping customs in your destination. Knowing how to dress appropriately will assist in making the right packing decisions.
11. Find out what level of English is commonly spoken in your destination. Even if English is prevalent, learn a few useful phrases in the local tongue – it will endear you to locals and usually makes them more willing to help.
12. Research internet connectivity, WIFI hotspot availability and the pros and cons of buying a local SIM card versus utilizing global roaming.
13. As I mentioned in How to Survive a Long Haul Flight, knowing how to get out of the airport and to your accommodation without faffing about or being taken the roundabout route to hike up the taxi fare, can be a real relief when you finally touch down in your destination.
14. Along with airport transfers, research safety with regards to taxis, rideshare and public transport, so you can make the best transport decisions throughout your trip.
15. Remove unnecessary items from your wallet such as spare credit cards, in case of loss or theft.
16. Memorise the PIN numbers for the debit and credit cards you will be taking. Many countries use a PIN to authorise transactions instead of a signature.
17. Investigate common tourist scams and security concerns in your destination. Have an idea of local crime rates and locations to avoid (there’s always at least one). For more details on maintaining personal security see these Travel Security Tips Every Globetrotter Should Know.
19. Do your laundry including sheets and towels. You don’t want to come home to housework at the end of your fabulous holiday.
20. Pay upcoming bills or schedule automatic payments to avoid late fees or service shut-offs.
21. Organise someone to collect your mail or get a temporary hold/redirection.
22. Recruit someone to water your plants.
23. Arrange pet sitting if required.
24. Clear out perishable food items and empty your rubbish bin.
25. Turn off and unplug unnecessary appliances to save on your power bill. For longer trips, I even empty and turn off our fridge/freezer.
26. Set your thermostat appropriately to save on energy but also keep your pipes etc from freezing.
If you have anything else to contribute to this list, drop it in the comments below, or share this post with a traveller who might need it.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,