The 12 Steps of International Travel: A Traveler’s Checklist

There’s an extra level of stress that comes with traveling internationally. Use this 12-step international travel checklist to be sure you are prepared for your next adventure:

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date you plan to return from your travels. If you need to renew or are applying for the first time, check out the details on the U.S. Department of State website.
  • Enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)– a free government service that allows you to log your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and receive any travel-related alerts regarding unrest, strikes, warnings, weather or even a family emergency.
  • Notify your credit card and banking companies of the dates and location of your travel so that your purchases don’t get declined. Be sure to ask about any international fees.
  • Make copies of passports and insurance cards. Take a copy with you (stash someplace other than where you are keeping your passport in case it is lost or stolen) and leave a copy behind with a friend or relative.
  • Make a copy of your itinerary and leave it with a friend or family member who will not be traveling with you.
  • Call your phone carrier to determine the best international phone plan options for you. Consider wifi texting apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Voxer, etc. Don’t forget to ask how to turn off all necessary roaming features so you don’t spoil your trip by coming home to a massive phone bill!
  • Exchange currency at your bank prior to your trip for better exchange rates. Call ahead if traveling to a less frequented country to ensure that your bank has that currency available.
  • Be sure any routine vaccinations are complete at least six weeks prior to travel. Check the CDC web site for country-specific vaccination requirements or download the CDC’s TravWell app.
  • If you are headed to a country that speaks a different language consider downloading a translation app such as Google Translate, TripLingo, iTranslate or Waygo. Travel + Leisure outlines the pros and cons of each, here.
  • Schedule a mail hold and stop all newspapers to prevent drawing attention to the fact that you are away.
  • Get geared up by checking out my article Travel Gear Must Haves--loaded with recommendations on converters, travel pillows, extra bags, and everything else you need to make your trip easier and more enjoyable.
  • Write a list of any valuables you are taking with you and take pictures. This is a step that most people skip, but after having had thousands of dollars in jewelry stolen, I never leave on an trip–local or international–without completing this step!





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