International Travel Checklist

This checklist may be more suitable to women but men can certainly use it too. One can usually buy things at the destination, things that you forgot, but it may be expensive and you waste time searching for an essential item, thus wasting time and missing out on exploring your destination. The key words are practical, organized, and methodical.

Download a PDF version of this checklist by clicking here.

Before traveling

  • Ensure you are as healthy and fit as possible
  • Check your ears – changing air pressure and climate can play havoc with your ears
  • Ensure air tickets contain your frequent flyer number
  • Ensure special meal requirements are booked
  • Prepare yourself to recognize some words / phrases / signs in the local language e.g. entry, exit, toilets (WC – Water closet)

Travel documents

  • Valid passport (for at least another 6 months after your return)
  • Yellow card with up to date vaccinations etc. (check requirements with travel agent and / or relevant embassy)
  • Visas, try to apply for multiple entry visa and for a longer period of time if at all possible, usually costs the same but just allows for some leeway should your travel arrangements change
  • Accommodation documents
  • Know what the public transport options are on arrival or pre-arrange transfer to hotel
  • Strongly recommend a travel guide(book) of sorts. Nowadays it is easy to access the internet anytime and anywhere but it is still convenient to have some basic facts of your destination readily available on paper
  • Black pen and note pad
  • Copy of essential travel documents elsewhere in your luggage, separate from your original travel documents or with your travel partner
  • Contact numbers of next of kin in case of emergency

Medical

  • Medical insurance documentation together with emergency contact numbers
  • Personal & chronic medication
  • Doctors letters regarding medicine, pace makers, metal implants in your body e.g. hip replacements
  • Clear information regarding allergies & medical conditions  e.g. bee stings, asthma, penicillin

Money

  • Preferably have a small amount of cash in a widely accepted currency such as US Dollar or Euro; this will depend on the destination
  • Further funding of your trip can be done via cash, travellers cheques or credit card, all the methods incur costs, you have to decide which works best for you
  • Credit card for transactions and withdrawing cash is very convenient and effective
  • VISA, MasterCard or American Express are globally recognized, irrespective of the destination (recommend two types of cards if this is your preferred option for money)
  • Credit cards should be activated for withdrawing cash, thus you need a PIN
  • Check with your bank before departure that card is open for international transactions and withdrawals
  • Have international contact numbers available should you experience transaction problems whilst travelling
  • Be aware of international transaction charges
  • Famaliarise yourself with the current exchange rates for local and visiting currency and how this currency compares with global currencies such as US Dollar, Euro or Pound. This will make it much easier when purchasing articles at your destination.

Travel gear

  • Travel light and comfortable, one should be able to deal with your own luggage, without assistance at all times
  • Recommend back pack or gear on wheels
  • Comfortable light weight  day pack, foldable hand bag for daily use
  • Less is more, recommend 1 x cabin luggage, 1 x check in luggage
  • Make sure you can easily identify your luggage
  • Luggage tags on each piece
  • Weight of check-in luggage never more than 20kg per piece. Some airlines allow up to 32kg of luggage but never more than 20kg per piece
  • Hand luggage usually restricted to 7.5kg, check with specific airline and class
  • Keep valuables and travel documents with you at all times, cabin luggage
  • As few toiletries as possible and in small quantities, preferably in a zip-seal see through bag
  • Effective, lightweight locks
  • Baggage wrapping for security reasons or to protect your travel gear
  • Recommend that, on departure, you have only used approximately 80% of the total capacity of your travel gear, a suitcase bursting at the seams on departure just spells trouble and frustration for the duration of your trip

Clothing

  • Depending on the destination; in summer go for light weight, easy to wash, in winter go for waterproof shoes, gloves, hat, scarf, ear muffs, warm but breathable
  • COMFORTABLE SHOES, whatever that is for you, at least 2 pairs
  • Always pack a wind breaker / rain jacket, irrespective of the destination
  • Work on the basis of at least 3 sets of clothing: wearing x 1 set, 1 set in the wash, 1 x set clean plus add according to the duration of the trip
  • Add other essentials by mixing and matching
  • For business trips choose your basic colour (possibly black or brown for shoes, hand bags, coats) & then add extras
  • Depending on the type of trip one needs to determine the balance of casual vs more formal, beach wear, etc
  • With jewellery and other accessories, less is more

Toiletries

  • All the basics
  • Basic medical supplies such as plaster, pain / headache pills, flu capsules, multi-vitamin or cal-C-Vita (helps with climate changes)
  • Something for indigestion, diarrhea (food at destination is not what you are used to)
  • Personal medication
  • Basic antiseptic cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-histamine
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • Stick to quantities of less than 100ml and less than 1 liter in total, according to international safety regulations
  • Nail clippers (in check in luggage) also comes in handy when one does not have scissors available
  • Voltaren gel (for stiffness, swelling, bruises)
  • Insect / Mosquito repellent
  • Find alternatives to pressurized toiletries

No Go

  • Sharp objects
  • Liquid toiletries in quantities of more than 100ml
  • Drinks & liquor (restricted quantities)
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Cigarettes (restricted quantities)

General

  • Sunglasses, reading glasses
  • Hat for protection against sunny or cold weather
  • Cell phone, charger (if needing to make calls in another country, it is much cheaper to buy a local SIM card on arrival)
  • Camera with charger / batteries
  • Drivers license, you may decide to rent a car or even a Vespa / scooter / small motorcycle
  • International adaptor, investigate what is needed before departure
  • Laptop computer & charger (if applicable)
  • Portable music & DVD players
  • Alarm clock (individual or on watch, cell phone)
  • Umbrella
  • Variety of zip seal bags, for wet things, if toiletries break, etc.
  • Travel sewing kit
  • Hygienic hand wipes works well on long journeys and in hot weather

At the airport

  • Declare valuables e.g. watches, jewellery, laptop, camera, other electronic equipment if necessary

On flight

  • Travel with comfortable stretchable clothing, jeans are NOT comfortable
  • Advisable to drink a lot, preferable water, stay away from alcoholic drinks
  • If you are a good sleeper on the plane, good for you
  • If not, make sure you have a good book or something else to pass the time
  • Should you use sleeping pills, make sure that you tested them before your trip, if not used to sleeping pills it could make you feel nauseous, irritable and hyper active
  • Move around often to ensure good blood circulation
  • A comfortable sweater as it gets quite chilly on the plane and blankets are not always adequate

In transit

  • Make sure you know the restrictions in terms of duty free shopping regarding perfume, liquor and cigarettes

At the destination

  • Get local currency asap
  • Be aware of your surroundings in order to get familiar with the new environment asap
  • Bottled water is preferable anywhere, especially for the first day or two
  • Be aware of local customs and culture, what is allowed and what not
  • Know the recommended procedure / percentage for tips / service fee at hotels, restaurants, public toilets, public transport in the specific country you are travelling to.

Please add your comments to this checklist by using the comment box below


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