Travel Checklist: Printable Pre-Departure Checklist for Travelers
January 15, 2020
Printable Pre-Departure Travel Checklist for International Travel
Are you about to head off on an international adventure and want to make sure you aren’t forgetting the small things? Then you’ve come to the right place! I can’t tell you how many times I have just boarded the airplane with poor signal and suddenly remembered I needed to go online and schedule a travel advisory for my credit cards. And what about putting that vacation hold on your mail? Use this printable pre-departure travel checklist to check things off your to-do list before you leave for your international travels.
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Pre-Departure Travel Checklist
1.Confirm Passport Expiration Date and Print Copies
If you are planning an international trip, you want to double and triple check the expiration date on your passport. Many countries do not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after their intended return date. You will also want to print a few copies of your passport to have on hand. I like to keep one copy in my anti-theft travel bag and another in my suitcase.
2. Procure Visa (if necessary)
If you need a visa to enter the country, make sure you do so ahead of time.
3. Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance might seem like an unnecessary additional cost to an already pricey trip, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people say that if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. You can’t accurately predict what will happen to you and sometimes things are not always as drastic as breaking your hip and leg skiing down the slopes of Switzerland and having to be airlifted to the hospital.
For example, on a recent trip to Europe, I threw my back out spelunking in Budapest and was bedridden for a week. I could not even crawl to the kitchen much less walk to the grocery store across the street to get food for myself. And no, I wasn’t signed up for Postmates in Hungary. I was lucky that this happened to me at the end of my month-long trip to Budapest and not at the beginning because I had made a friend during my time there who so very generously grocery shopped for me and checked in on me daily. If I did not have this incredible person to help me, I would have needed to go to the emergency room and luckily, I had purchased travel insurance for my trip.
I recommend getting quotes from World Nomads and Allianz Travel Insurance. You can go onto their respective websites and fill out the form in about a minute. Ensure that you check the terms and conditions before booking to make sure that the policy meets your needs. You can also give your health insurance provider a call and see if they offer any type of travel insurance that would meet your needs.
4. Get Your Travel Vaccines
Read the CDC website for any required and recommended travel vaccines. Certain countries will ask for immunization records upon entry, so make sure that your doctor has sent over any of those necessary documents.
5. Buy an International Driver’s Permit
In certain countries, an international driver’s permit is required to drive “legally.” Some countries are more stringent than others, but the permit is not too difficult to procure and can give you great peace of mind during your trip knowing you won’t get an exorbitant fine if you are pulled over. You can look up details and past experiences from other travelers on online forums for your particular country to find out just how imperative it is to get an IDP for your trip.
If you decide that it is in your best interest to get one and you’re in the US, the easiest way to obtain an IDP is to download and fill out the form from AAA, bring it in to your nearest branch along with two passport photos, your Driver’s License, and a $20 check. You’ll walk out of there with the permit in your hand. If you’re already overseas, don’t even attempt unless you are in Europe for over 6 weeks because it will take 4-6 weeks for you to receive a permit by mail. The only other place where IDP’s are issued in the US is AATA, the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
6. Refill Prescription Medications
If you have certain prescription medications that you take daily and can’t live without, make sure that you are stocked up for the duration of your trip. If not, call your doctor and ask to have them filled in advance.
However, if you do forget to pack them, you may not be completely out of luck. For example, there is a pharmacy on pretty much every block in most European countries. You simply need to find the generic name of the medication, walk into your closest pharmacy, and see if they have the medication and if they are able to give it to you over-the-counter. Many times, the medication will actually be cheaper than it would be in the United States.
It is also important to note that certain countries like Japan have strict rules about prescription medication and what is and isn’t allowed into the country. Do your due diligence to ensure there won’t be any surprises upon arrival.
7. Place a Travel Advisory with your Bank
You will want to let your bank know that you will be traveling internationally so they don’t unexpectedly cancel your purchase and block your card from being used. It doesn’t matter if you do it yourself online or give your bank a call, you just don’t want to wait until your stranded at the ATM with no cash and a deactivated card. That is one of the reasons why I always recommend bringing at least two credit/debit cards with no foreign transaction fees. If the ATM eats up one card, you have another at your disposal. It’s also beneficial to have a second card if you get pickpocketed.
8. Exchange Money
If you’re traveling internationally, chances are the currency will be different than the type of money you use at home. Call your bank and see if you can schedule an exchange with them prior to your trip. I have found a reliable exchange place in my hometown that I do go to exchange money if I forget to call my bank in time. Sometimes, however, my bank or local exchange doesn’t have the type of currency I need. If that’s the case and you don’t exchange money before you leave for your trip, make sure to take money out of an ATM at your destination instead of going to a local exchange place to save on fees.
9. International Phone Plan
Check with your phone provider first to see what kind of data plan they offer for your destination.
T-mobile has the best international plan with free data and texting in 210 countries. For European destinations, Verizon and AT&T both have data plans for $10 a day while Sprint has international data for $5 a day.
You can also get portable WiFi through Skyroam by either renting the hotspot or making a small investment to purchase your own. Then, you can buy unlimited data for 24 hour periods of time.
The final option is to purchase a SIM card for your unlocked phone. You can buy an international SIM online, but prices are usually a rip-off. So, if you do decide to go this route, I would buy a local SIM card once you’ve arrived in Europe. A SIM card is best for travelers who are staying for extended periods of time; you definitely want to get one if you are studying abroad or teaching English in Europe. For a short trip, however, it might be more hassle than its worth.
And, if you want to spend more time offline, you can also use public wifi which is generally found in most restaurants, cafes, and hotels. I would just recommend protecting your personal information by getting a VPN so that no one can grab your unencrypted data like usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. ExpressVPN has a stellar reputation; you can sign up for one month, six months, or a year plan.
10. Place a Vacation Hold for Mail and Newspaper
Packages left at your doorstep or newspapers accumulating in your driveway are a surefire way to alert porch pirates and burglars that no one is home. Place a vacation hold to ensure that nothing will dropped off while you are away. For my US readers, make sure to update USPS, UPS, FedEx, and Amazon.
11. Download Offline Google Maps
You can download entire regions over wifi so Google Maps can be accessed without data. Instead of having a blank map, you will be able to read the map just like you would with data. You can also drop a pin to help you navigate back to your hotel after a day of sightseeing.
To download, make sure you have data turned on or are using wifi and open the Google Maps app on your device. Type in your destination. Click the three bars on the top left-hand corner and select Offline maps. From there, click Custom map and Download. You’re all set with your offline map!
12. Download Entertainment to your Devices
I don’t know about you, but I am podcast obsessed. Long-haul flights and train rides are the perfect time to catch up on the long list of episodes I have yet to listen to. Make sure to download any tv shows or movies you’ve been dying to watch but haven’t had any free time for as well as some playlists on Spotify so you change it up at times and listen to music. You can also download e-books and audiobooks from your local library and finally start that book you’ve been saying you wanted to read for the past two years.
13. Flight Details
Write down the terminals, booking confirmation number, and flight number for your flights.
You will also want to check baggage allowance details as costs to check baggage can add up pretty quickly if you plan to visit multiple destinations during your trip. Lookup the baggage dimensions on the airline’s website and make sure to include any additional fees into your budget pre-departure.
14. Write Down and/or Print Out Your Confirmed Commitments
These should include confirmation information and booking details for the following items:
Pre-booked Tour and Attraction Confirmations
Heading off on an international adventure? What is on your pre-departure travel checklist? Please share in the comments below!