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Before You Go – A Checklist for International Travel

Planning ahead will help make the transition from home to vacation abroad as relaxing and stress-free as possible.  Yes, it’s an extensive list, but some items (pet boarding and traveling with kids) may not apply to you.  Remembers a bit of preparation can help avoid future problems and all of us want a perfect vacation.

  1. Make sure your important documents such as your passport and driver’s license are up-to-date and do not expire while you are away.  Many countries require 6 months validity on your passport before entering. 
  2. Refill all necessary medications and make sure you have your health insurance card with you. If you carry prescription controlled medications, or anything that requires hypodermic needles such as medications for diabetes, make sure you have a copy of your doctors’ prescriptions.
  3. Get a second pair of glasses from your eye doctor if you don’t already have a pair.
  4. Depending upon where you are traveling, check to see if there are any requirements for immunizations or vaccinations.
  5. Check into travel insurance and see if it’s appropriate for your trip.
  6. Call your own car insurance company and inquire if you need car rental insurance, or if you are covered where you are going.
  7. Figure out what you need to carry in cash, traveler’s checks, foreign currency, etc.  Head to your bank to have some of your cash converted into local currency for your trip.  More tips on getting the best exchange rates are here
  8. Alert your credit card and debit card holders that you will be heading abroad. Check on fees for using these cards when traveling. At the same time, check the expiration dates to make sure they don’t expire while you are away.
  9. Call your mobile / cell phone carrier and check on things such as adding global service, any fees for using your phone abroad, and the possibility of getting a SIM card for international calls.
  10. Book reservations now for passes to museums, the theatre, concerts and restaurants. Buy a rail pass now, if needed.  Many places around the world offer ‘city passes’ for tourist that offer significant discounts.
  11. Call your airline or check their website for regulations on the weight, size and allotment per person of carry-on and checked baggage.
  12. If you are traveling with children, make sure you have all their necessary documentation such as passports, consent papers (if traveling with one parent) and copies of adoption papers, if necessary.
  13. Purchase electrical adapters and a second charger for your phone / tablet / laptop. 
  14. Check your camera to see if you need to purchase an expanded memory card and batteries.
  15. Arrange for any house sitting services, if necessary.
  16. Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery, plus other recurring services such as housekeeping, deliveries, etc.
  17. Make accommodations now for any pet boarding or pet sitting services. Make sure your pets’ veterinarian medications and shots are up to date.
  18. Using your phone’s camera, take photos of all your important documents (passport, health insurance card, driver’s license) that you will be carrying with you. Better yet, make copies of these documents and put the copies in your suitcase, not a carry-on or purse.
  19. Make sure you have a copy of your travel information including all the names, addresses and phone numbers of airlines, accommodations, car rental, limousine driver, contacts, etc.
  20. Give a copy of your itinerary and any important phone numbers to a relative or friend who is not traveling with you. 


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