No matter if you’re going away for a weekend or a few weeks, preparation for any trip is key, especially when you are about to head overseas to a new country you haven’t been to before.

To help you start your trip stress-free, I have put together a list of essential things to do before you take off.

Ready for your next long-haul adventure? Here’s your ultimate pre trip checklist for international travel.

#1 Check Your Passport Expiry Date

This is a big one! We all know someone who’s actually gone to the airport with an expired passport… Surely, this will never happen to you!

You might have prepared your overseas trip for weeks or months in advance, so you definitely don’t want to arrive at the airport being told that you cannot fly.

Most countries require your passport to be valid for 6 months after your return date.

Checking your passport should be one of the first things on your pre trip checklist, as applying for a new one can also take a little bit of time.

If you have to apply for a visa to travel to a new country, you will already have to have your new passport number, so don’t leave applying for a new passport too late!

Overseas travel checklist

#2 Find Out Your Visa Requirements

Just as important as having a current passport is applying for a valid visa ahead of time. This should be high up on your international travel checklist and done once you have booked your flight to avoid any delays of getting it before you take off.

Visa requirements are different for every country, so make sure you check the official visa website of each country you are traveling to.

Know that visa requirements change often and just because you didn’t need a visa when you traveled to country X last time, does not mean you don’t need one this time around.

Checklist for traveling internationally

#3 Book Your Flights & Accommodation

Next on your travel checklist is booking your flights. This can be overwhelming, especially when using flight search engines and seeing widely fluctuating prices.  

I use Skyscanner to compare all my flights, they have a handy app you can download, so you can easily search on the go. Their “Everywhere” feature is the best to find the cheapest way in and out of the country.

International Travel Checklist

Then, it’s time to read up about your final destination and find out where to stay. You can find many articles on the best areas and hotels across various destinations worldwide here.

My favorite site for booking hotels around is Booking.com, it’s one of the most popular hotel booking sites.

It’s a reliable and safe site to book on and I love that you can reserve many hotels on the spot without any pre-payment. Most of the reservations can be canceled or modified without extra charge until a certain date. Just avoid the “non-refundable” rates.

#4 Figure Out How To Get Money Abroad

Another important thing on your overseas travel checklist is to figure out how you’ll get money abroad. Will you take cash? Will you pay mostly with credit card?

Note that some lesser-developed countries might not have credit card facilities at every hotel, restaurant or shop you go to. They may not even have ATMs on every corner like you’re used to at home. This happened to me in Myanmar actually.

On the other side, some countries like Iceland are mostly cash-free and cash payments are almost not possible, especially when driving to more remote parts, you’ll find that even petrol stations don’t have any physical staff but you just plug your credit card it and fuel up.

If you’re planning to use your credit card from back home, let your credit card institution know about your plans before you depart. This way they won’t deny or flag your card for your overseas transactions.

Always find out about international ATM fees and non-network ATM to avoid potential extra fees. You’d rather spend that money on your holiday!

I always travel with at least two credit cards, often three, in case one stops working, gets eaten by the machine or for whatever else, it can happen so fast!

Pre Trip Checklist

I love and use the TransferWise Platinum debit Mastercard which can hold multiple currencies and is 8x cheaper for spending and withdrawing money overseas!

#5 Buy Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is an essential thing to tick off any travel abroad checklist. I never travel without it. Some countries also require you to have adequate health insurance when applying for a visa, like Cuba or the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai.

When traveling to the Schengen Zone, travel insurance is required if you stay over 90 days.

Travel insurance helps protect you against unexpected injury and illness, and often also covers lost luggage, trip cancelation and natural disasters. This can save you hundreds if not thousands in non-refundable travel expenses or medical treatment costs if you get injured abroad.

Traveling overseas checklist
Checklist for traveling abroad

Some credit cards offer complimentary trip protection and even rental car collision damage waiver protection. Check if yours does too and which countries it’s valid for as it might not cover every country in the world.

Alternatively, check out my article on travel insurance here.

#6 Get A Medical Check-up & Vaccinations

Your checklist for overseas travel needs to cover vaccinations. If you want to get a medical check-up before you go, why not do it at the same time as getting your necessary vaccinations.

Don’t wait until the last minute as it can take a few weeks for your body to build up immunity. 

Checklist for overseas travel

Some vaccinations also require multiple doses.

You should always keep your proof of vaccination in your carry-on luggage with your other important travel documents, so you can easily pull it out when you enter a new country and are asked to present proof.

#7 Know How You’ll Get Online Overseas

Surely, you’ll want to get Internet access when traveling abroad. There are a variety of options, from buying a local SIM card in the country you are visiting, to paying for roaming with your phone provider back home.

I find that buying a local SIM card is a good and inexpensive option if you are going away for two weeks plus. Just note that many countries require you to show your passport when getting a local SIM.

Depending on where you travel to, roaming might be expensive and not always work as great as a local SIM. It’s my least favourite option to get online abroad.

Travel Checklist

My ultimate solution I’ve bee using for years? I use a mobile hotspot called Skyroam and I think if you’re a frequent traveler, this little device shouldn’t be missing on your checklist for traveling abroad.

It works in 130 countries and offers a fast 4G LTE connection for up to ten devices, so you can connect your mobile, laptop and share it with other people too. Perfect to upload all those shots to Instagram and keep in touch with family and friends back home.

#8 Make Copies Of Important Documents

Abroad travel checklist

Trust me, you will be so thankful you made digital copies of your most important travel documents in case of an emergency. I always make copies of my passport, visa approval letter, credit card and travel insurance details as well as itinerary and important contact numbers.

Things happen on the road, bags get lost or stolen, and there is no way of planning for this ahead of time, but having copies will save you a lot of time and hassle chasing everything down individually.

I save everything in Dropbox, so in case my stuff is lost or stolen, I can still access the copies over a friends device online. I also share my itinerary with family, so they know where I am.

It’s time to pack all the essentials for your overseas trip. What you pack will obviously largely depend on the country you’re visiting and the local climate and appropriate clothes to wear.

Some basic things that should not be missing on your checklist for traveling internationally are:

Vacation Checklist
  • Important documents mentioned above (passport, credit cards, insurance card, visa)
  • Travel adapter
  • Headphones (I like noise-cancelling ones for the flight!)
  • Portable charger
  • Earplugs, eye mask & inflatable travel pillow
  • Important medications
  • A lightweight travel towel
  • Scarf or sweater which can be used when it gets chilly on the plane
  • Appropriate shoes for the destination

Make sure you check airline luggage restrictions before you start packing.

I must admit, I am not the best at packing light, but I cannot stress enough how important it is, as you do not want to be pushing and pulling around heavy luggage.

#10 Download Movies & Music Playlists

It’s the absolute worse to get on a plane without having downloaded your favourite podcast, movie or music playlist.

Depending on how long your flight is, keep in mind that some airlines might charge you extra for using an iPad with movies or other entertainment.

Your vacation checklist should include downloading all your favorite playlists when you’re still at home and your Internet connection is fast enough to load everything in a short amount of time. There’s nothing worse to arrive at the airport and trying to download stuff last minute with a slow WiFi connection. Trust me, I have been there!

Checklist overseas travel

I hope this checklist for international travel will help you to be perfectly prepared for your next adventure and you will be able to tick off all the things to do before traveling abroad.

Where are you off to next?

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Online Visa, providing visa information for travelers around the world.

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Don’t Go Without Travel Insurance

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