The Ultimate International Travel Checklist

You’re traveling abroad! Traveling internationally is a fun and exciting opportunity that not many people get to have. You may be traveling abroad through a gap year program or adventuring on your own. Regardless, you are taking on this bold and wonderful mission of traveling abroad and embracing a new world.

This is an exciting time but you have to be prepared! To make sure you have the best traveling experience, I’ve compiled a list of a few very important items you’ll need during your international travels. I call it “The Ultimate International Travel Checklist.” Get ready to grab your gear essentials!



1. Passport

A passport is the top of all travel necessities. Whenever traveling internationally, make sure to ALWAYS bring your passport. Otherwise, you will not be able to leave the country. If you do not have a passport you can apply for one at your local post office or library. Also, make sure your passport is up to date. No one wants to be stuck at the airport with an expired passport, so check the expiration date before you book travel. Similarly to getting a new passport, you can update your passport at your local post office and library. Always remember you can’t pass without a passport!


2. Visa

Just like your passport, your visa is very important. Most countries require visas to enter their country. Visas help countries keep track of foreigners who are entering and exiting. If you are traveling to a country that requires a visa you can obtain one through the country’s embassy in your country or through a private agency. It should be noted that some countries allow travelers to obtain a visa upon arrival. Try to do some research to see if you can receive a visa upon entry or if you will need to arrange for one ahead of time.

*If you’re worried about losing your visa, don’t! Your visa will be inside your passport. Therefore, you only have one travel document to keep track of.


3. International Travel Insurance

Traveling abroad can be fun but it can also be very risky. If you are a risk taker this is especially important for you. Having traveling insurance ensures that if you do happen to get hurt during your travels that you will not be bombarded with crazy medical bills. That would be no fun. If you are not sure if your primary insurance covers international travel make sure to give them a call. If you do not have insurance or if your primary insurance does not have coverage outside of your country, you can buy travel insurance through other insurance companies. Check out this great resource to learn more about international travel insurance.


4. Vaccinations/ Medications

Some countries require you to have specific vaccinations in order to enter the country. Your health is the utmost importance when traveling. There are dangerous diseases that can be found in water, food, insects, etc. You will want to make sure you have ALL the necessary vaccinations and prescribed medication during your travels to prevent illness. Make sure you review country specific information on which vaccines to get.


5. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is an international travel checklist staple. They are easy to carry and quite convenient when a minor emergency occurs. Simple band-aids and disinfectant can make a world of a difference. You can find a first aid kit at almost any store. Remember…don’t forget the kit ;).


6. ATM Card

An ATM card is a financial necessity. Whether it’s for leisure or emergencies, it’s important to have money with you wherever you go. If you do not feel comfortable bringing your atm card abroad, you can opt for a traveler’s check. A traveler’s check is similar to a regular check except the check is prepaid and not connected to your bank account. The check has a fixed amount and you can use it as cash. You can even exchange the check for cash! Find out if a traveler’s check is right for you.

Every country has a different currency with various conversion rates. Make sure to do some research on country conversion rates. When traveling abroad you’ll also want to notify your bank that you will be traveling abroad. This is to ensure that your bank does not freeze your account due to fraud. Last, but certainly not least, bring money for souvenirs and food! Souvenirs are a great reminder of your time abroad. And food well, you’ll probably want LOTS of it. Spend away (with discretion)!


7. Translation Dictionary

If you are going abroad and you do not speak the language then a translation dictionary should definitely be on your international travel checklist. Knowing simple phrases and words could greatly improve your time abroad. Learning the local language not only helps your trip go more smoothly but gives you a better chance at forming connections with the locals.


8. Map

You’ll want a map to get around this new country. This is the 21st century so more than likely google maps will be the way to go. If you’re more old school with you’re traveling, feel free to buy a physical map! Either method is effective and get you where you need to go.


9. Phone

You will probably need to communicate with someone either within or outside the country. You can bring your own phone or buy a cheap disposable one while you are abroad. If you do bring your personal phone, you can buy a sim card at any cell phone service place in that country or ask your provider about an international plan. Even if you don’t plan on using your phone much, it’s good to have a phone in cases of emergency.


10. Whatsapp

If you bring your phone, Whatsapp will be a must have. It’s a life and money saver. You no longer have to worry about international charges because you can communicate for free through Whatsapp! Whatsapp allows you to make video calls, phone calls, and send text messages to anyone with the Whatsapp app. Keep in mind you will need an internet connection to use the app, but a lot of hotels, hostels and cafes offer free wifi. You can download Whatsapp on a smartphone or PC.


11. Portable Charger/ Converter

What’s the point of having a phone if it’s not working? Having a portable charger on hand ensures that’ll you’ll have prolonged battery life during your travels. You’ll probably need to charge your portable charger too. While traveling abroad you may notice that other countries have different outlet styles. How will you charge your portable charger then? Luckily, for us international travelers, we have this amazing invention called a converter. Converters come with various plug adapters that are meant to fit to every outlet type. The price of converters can range from $6 – $35 depending on the brand and the plug style. You can find converters at any major store such as target, walmart, etc. Charge up!


12. Camera

How can people know you’ve traveled abroad if you don’t take photos? Like the common saying, “take pics or it didn’t happen”. Though that may not be not true, it is still nice to have keepsakes from your time abroad. Photos are timeless. You can also use your camera to create video documentation during your time abroad. With video documentation, you’ll never forget those special moments.

Now that you have this Ultimate International Travel Checklist, you will be prepared to travel abroad. Have fun and safe travels!

Learn more about Global Citizen Year or check out more gap year resources.