You’re embarking on an international journey! Traveling abroad is an exhilarating opportunity that not everyone gets to experience. Whether you’re exploring new places through a gap year/semester program or venturing out on your own, you’re embarking on a remarkable adventure that requires preparation and research.
To make sure you have the best traveling experience, we have compiled a list of a few very important items you’ll need during your international travels. We call it “The Ultimate International Travel Checklist.” Get ready to grab your essentials!
THE ULTIMATE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL CHECKLIST
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!
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 of 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 disinfectants 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. Copy Important Documents
Keeping duplicates of your boarding pass and passport can be a real lifesaver during your travels.
A physical copy of your boarding pass can come to the rescue in scenarios like unexpected upgrades or flight cancellations. Should the unfortunate happenstance of losing your passport occur, having a duplicate will significantly streamline the process of obtaining a replacement. The key copies to have are those of the initial pages containing your personal information and photo. If you’re traveling with a partner, it’s a wise precaution for both of you to carry duplicates of both passports, just to be doubly prepared.
8. Verify Airlines Luggage Restrictions
It’s essential to confirm the current airline regulations regarding your carry-on and checked luggage.
Airline policies tend to evolve, so I recommend visiting the Transportation Security Administration’s website to access the most up-to-date information on what’s allowed in your carry-on and to stay informed about the latest security protocols. Additionally, familiarize yourself with your specific airline’s baggage guidelines, covering both checked bags and carry-ons. This diligence will help you avoid any unforeseen additional charges during your journey.
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 the case of an emergency.
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 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 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!
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.
3+ Months Before Travel:
- Check passport expiration date and renew if necessary.
- Research visa requirements for your destination.
- Plan and book your flights.
- Schedule any required vaccinations.
2 Months Before Travel:
- Make accommodation reservations.
- Create a rough itinerary.
- Purchase travel insurance.
1 Month Before Travel:
- Notify your bank about your travel plans to avoid card issues.
- Make copies of important documents (passport, visas, itinerary, etc.).
- Research and purchase any necessary travel adapters.
2 Weeks Before Travel:
- Check luggage restrictions for your airline.
- Pack essentials and check the weather at your destination.
- Inform friends or family about your travel plans.
1 Week Before Travel:
- Reconfirm reservations and flight details.
- Download travel apps and maps for offline use.
- Exchange currency if needed.
1 Day Before Travel:
- Double-check you have all travel documents and essentials.
- Set up an out-of-office message for work emails.
- Charge electronic devices.
- Arrive at the airport well in advance.
- Keep travel documents, money, and valuables in a secure place.
- Enjoy your journey and stay safe!
International Travel with Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year offers immersive learning programs for young people to immerse in a new country and develop the skills to create meaningful impact on global issues. By participating in their Take Action Lab program, you not only get to immerse yourself in a foreign country but also engage in meaningful community work. This experience fosters cross-cultural understanding and opens your eyes to new perspectives, helping you become a global citizen in the truest sense.
EXPERIENCE A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
A GLOBAL CITIZEN YEAR FELLOW
Fellow / Ecuador
— Anna del Savio
I work with a group of indigenous artisans that make fair trade jewelry.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Amari Leigh
After my community garden apprenticeship, I like to hang out at the local waterfall with my friends.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Basil Wiering
I often hail a rickshaw into various parts of the city to meet friends and practice street photography.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Fernanda Tornell
I've developed my public speaking skills and encouraged hundreds of people to take care of our planet.…
Fellow / India
— Luciana Ribeiro da Silva
I apprentice with Teach For India and also volunteer with a non-profit working to end child marriage.…
Fellow / Ecuador
— Noah Hapke
I co-teach English classes at the school in my community.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Sarah Murray
My apprenticeship is at a school for people with disabilities where I help to lead gardening, games, and capoeira.…
Fellow / India
— Alana Poole
In the afternoons, I often go on home visits to meet my students' families and understand where they come from.…