The last few days before a trip can be chaotic. No matter how many times you have travelled, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done before you take off, be it a weekend gateway or a month long trip. To help alleviate some of the stress (because let’s face it, going on holiday should be anything but stressful!), we have come up with the ultimate international travel checklist (or domestic travel checklist if you live in a bigger country than we do). So here it goes.
1. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
Purchasing your travel insurance should be the first thing on your list after you have booked your flights. It’s THAT important! There are a number of travel insurance companies out there, all of them typically covering lost luggage, emergency medical coverage, evacuation, trip cancellation and a range of adventure sports and activities. With WorldNomads.com you can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from World Nomads is available to people from over 130 countries. Get a quote below.
2. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
Sounds obvious right? But some countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months from your day of travel. You must also make sure that you have enough empty pages for visas. Some visas may take a whole page and most countries will not stamp a visa other than on the visa related pages. When ordering a new passport, allow 4-6 weeks for this to be ready. As they say, better safe than sorry!
A visa is an official document that allows you to legally enter a foreign country. The visa is usually stamped or glued into the bearer’s passport. There are several different types of visas. What you need is a travel/tourist visa which allows you to enter a foreign country for touristic and leisure purposes only and stay for a predetermined amount of time. Not sure if you need a visa? Have a look here.
4. INTERNATIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE
If you plan on renting a car, carrying your driver’s license is, well, obvious! However some countries might require an international driver’s license which is a booklet that translates your domestic driver’s license into many other languages including Thai and Vietnamese. You can get it done here.
Another important point on your travel checklist. Depending on how many different vaccinations you may require and how many shots each vaccine contains to properly does its magic, you must think well in advance about this. Check with your local health department about what vaccines you will require for your destination and always carry your vaccination booklet with you in case of an emergency.
N.B. If you are visiting more than 2 countries within the same trip, make your health centre aware. We didn’t need the Yellow Fever shot for Peru (as we weren’t visiting the Amazon Jungle), however as we travelled to Costa Rica next, we wouldn’t have been allowed into the country unless we had taken the vaccine. A couple right before us were denied boarding because of this. Ouch right?
6. GET PRINTED COPIES OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
It is advisable that you make copies of your most important documents such as your passport, flight tickets, accommodation vouchers and immunisation booklet. Most airlines and accommodation properties accept digital copies nowadays but if your Wi-Fi connection decides to go bust, you will at least have a hard copy to show. It is also safe to have a copy of your documents in case your originals get lost or stolen.
7. SHARE YOUR ITINERARY
Give a copy of your day-to-day (if possible) itinerary to a friend or family member back home especially if your trip is a long one and requires numerous domestic travels. Internet-connection permitting, we call our family members everyday when we’re on holiday. If this is not possible a quick message will do to let them know we’re OK. And if they don’t hear from us for a couple of days, having a copy of our itinerary should be a start to (hopefully) have us traced.
8. CHECK BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS
If you’re travelling with different airlines and especially budget airlines, always check what each of the airline’s carry-on bag and checked baggage size and weight restriction is. Some allow a 20kg checked baggage while others allow 23kg for example.
9. PACK A WEIGHING SCALE
Speaking of weight, it is wise to carry a travel scale with you. It allows you to avoid the unnecessary repacking or even expensive extra fees charged by the airlines. It is lightweight and doesn’t take up space in your luggage.
10. USE PACKING CUBES
Whether you’re travelling long haul or simply spending a weekend away, having an organised luggage is key. It makes it easy to find whatever it is you’re looking for without turning all your stuff upside down. And it makes re-packing so much easier. We use these packing cubes which come in packs of 4 and also include a shoe bag.
11. CHECK THE WEATHER
Always check the weather before you start jotting down which clothes you’re going to carry. On our last trip to Switzerland in July, the first two days were all thunderstorms and rain, after which the sun came out with temperatures as high as 32°. Needless to say, we had to pack different types of clothes.
12. PACK THE RIGHT TRAVEL GEAR
This is very important especially if you’re camping or visiting National Parks. When we did the 4-day Inca Trail in Peru, we didn’t think much about this and ended up renting lots of stuff which came at a price, especially since there was nowhere else to go to and bargaining was therefore out of the question. Our Gear & Gadgets page might be of inspiration. Have a look!
If you’re travelling with babies or toddlers, they need their travel gear too. Check out our Baby & Kids section for a list of their travel essentials.
13. PACK A FIRST AID/MEDICAL KIT
Whether you’re going sightseeing or on an adventure trip, having a mini first aid kit is always a good idea. This one is packed with the most useful and valuable hospital grade medical supplies. It is lightweight and super compact yet it holds 92 items!
14. PACK YOUR COMFORT KIT
Especially if you have a long flight, the more comfortable you are the better! Wear comfortable clothing and pack a light jersey and socks since you may get cold especially on a night flight. Pack a neck support pillow and an eye mask and ear plug set for added comfort.
15. CARRY A PEN
You will need this if the airline requires you to fill up a travel permit before you land at the airport and set out of the plane. It’s always a good idea to carry a pen in case something comes to mind during your flight and you need to jot it down.
Be it Sudoku or a movie; make sure you always carry some entertainment with you, not only for the flight but also for long train rides. You’d be rather disappointed if you find out your TV is broken! And if you’re travelling with children make sure you download a bunch of interactive apps to keep them at bay. Their favourite toy won’t last a whole flight!
17. PACK CHARGING ESSENTIALS
Most airports have charging points today so make sure you keep your charging apparatus handy and make good use of them before your flight. It is ideal to also carry a portable charger (make sure it is fully charged!) if you plan to use your phone throughout your flight on movies, music or other apps.
18. CARRY SOME SNACKS
Depending on your flight, train or bus ride there might not be many snack options if any at all. And if there are, the prices would be rather hefty. So make sure you hit up the store before your journeys and stock up on nibbles and snacks.
19. PLAN IN ADVANCE
Plan out your itinerary in advance or at least make note of the places you wish to visit. Afterwards head to their website and check out their opening days and times. You wouldn’t want to go on an hour and a half bus ride only to find out that the place is closed! Yes, it has happened to us and half the day was pretty much spent on a bus as a result!
20. GET FAMILIAR WITH YOUR DESTINATION
Our go-to shop for travel guides is Lonely Planet. You can buy actual books or e-books which include suggested itineraries, insider tips, restaurants etc. They currently have an offer where you buy 3 books for the price of 2. Click below to find out more.
21. DOWNLOAD AN OFFLINE MAP
This is a must if you’re travelling somewhere where roaming comes at a price. We found it very useful for trails and when our GPS decided to stop working. We use Maps.Me. Remember to download the actual maps before leaving home or your hotel room!
22. INFORM YOUR BANK ABOUT YOUR WHEREABOUTS
Unless you want to end up with a blocked credit card, we advise you to inform your bank or credit card company about your travel dates and destination. It is also a good idea to get hold of the rates and charges while abroad like withdrawing from an ATM for example.
23. GET THE RIGHT INTERNATIONAL PHONE PLAN
If you’re travelling long haul get in touch with your phone company and set up the right international phone plan to reduce costs and avoid a huge phone bill later.
24. EXCHANGE SOME CASH
Always plan to have some local cash with you for emergency cases where your credit card doesn’t work or where cards are not accepted. Also research currency exchange points in case your cash is all used up and you need to exchange some more.
25. MAKE SURE YOUR HOME IS CARED FOR
Before you lock the door and wave goodbye to your home for a while, make sure that everything is taken care of; have your mail picked up or held at the post office, have all bill prepaid or setup a direct debit, have your plants watered etc.