A travel checklist is an organizational must-have when going abroad – it’s too easy to forget things otherwise!

I’m heading out of the country in a little less than a week, and I’ll be gone for at least two months. I have, however, been traveling around the States full-time for the past several months, so I have everything I need (basically) packed and ready to go. That said, I realized that because of my recent domestic travels, I was taking a bit of a lax approach to going abroad.

There is generally a lot more to prepare for when going abroad than there is when traveling domestically. So, every time I realized I forgot something, I wrote it down until ultimately I decided it would be best just to make a long list with a lot of research to ensure I didn’t forget anything.

I’m hoping that for your next trip abroad, my travel checklist will be a huge help. Without further ado, let’s chat about all the things you need to have done/get done before going abroad:

1. Make sure your passport is valid (ideally for at least 6 months after your return).

In many countries, your passport needs to be valid for several months after your departure. Make sure you check your passport expiration date well in advance so that you have a lot of time to renew it if need be.

2. Research visas and vaccinations and do everything you need.

Don’t leave any stone unturned – check on every required and suggested vaccination and research visa information. The last thing you want is to be stranded at a border, not allowed into a country. Avoid this by knowing what you need.

3. Scan important documents and give a copy to a friend at home (and keep a copy yourself).

As a safety measure, make copies of all of your important documents. Keep one copy for yourself and give another to a friend at home. Hopefully, you’ll never need these extra copies, but it’s better to be safe than sorry if anything happens to your originals.

4. Ensure your “abroad essentials” are ready to go – like travel adapters, water purification tablets, etc.

Random to-dos: get a travel charger, get water purification tablets if you need them, get travel laundry detergent. Get the small things that will make your life easier abroad.

5. Call your credit card companies.

Let your credit card companies know you will be abroad so that your cards don’t get stopped while you’re traveling. Much easier to do this in advance than trying to correct a mistake abroad.

6. Register your trip with the State Department.

I never used to do this, but given the current political climate, I thought it was a good idea. You can go online to the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program website and register your trip. This way, you can be contacted in case of any emergency and get help from the embassy if you need it.

7. Get cash.

I’m notoriously bad at this when traveling domestically but I don’t fuck around about it when traveling abroad. Make sure you have some cash in your home currency and in the local currency before you get there.

8. Do your research!

This means research on everything! Hotels, taxi cabs, events – make sure you know exactly what to expect before you arrive, it’ll help ensure a smooth trip.

9. Check entry/exit fees.

Some countries have entry and exit fees separate and apart from any visas they require. Check on these before you arrive so you know how  much cash to have.

10. Check your phone’s international plan.

Call your phone company before you leave and check if you have to do anything special to access their international plan (or, conversely, if you need to switch plans to ensure a better international phone experience).

11. Bring snacks.

This one is just an obvious, fun one: bring all the snacks you can! You’ll be glad you did if you end up facing long hours at the airport.

12. Pack a set of clothes in your carry-on.

There carry-on vs. not carry-on debate will rage on (I personally check bags whenever I can, because I like to travel with necessary liquids like sunscreen), but in any case, no matter what you do, make sure you have at least one set of clothes with you so you’ll be covered if anything happens to your checked bags.

13. Get travel insurance.

Travel Insurance isn’t as expensive as people think and it’s more than worth it to cover medical needs and trip cancellations. Start loking into it before your trip and make sure you’ve signed up well in advance of your departure date. World Nomads is my jam.

14. Get your prescriptions ready for the months you’ll be gone.

I have hypothyroidism and vitamin D deficiency, so I take those two pills every day. Before leaving for this trip, I filled my thyroid perscription for three months to ensure I wouldn’t run out. Do the same if you take any medications on a regular basis!

15. Don’t forget important necessities like sunscreen and bug spray.

This, of course, can only be done with a checked bag, but if you are taking a checked bag, you may as well take the things you’ll need like sunscreen and bug spray. Easier than having to find a place to purchase when you’re abroad!

There you have it – this is the list I made and I’m hoping my travel checklist will be of service to you, as well! 🙂

Travel checklist for going abroad