CONGRATULATIONS! You just booked the trip of a lifetime! Soon you’ll be faced with more adventure than you could ever imagine! But after you get over the thrill of clicking confirm, it’s time to buckle down and start preparing your travel checklist. After all, the key to any great trip is in the preparation.
For that reason, we’ve created…
The Ultimate Travel Checklist to Prepare for a Trip Abroad
Notify your bank and credit card companies.
Make sure you do this for both your debit cards and credit cards. The last thing you want to deal with during your trip is a declined credit card or being unable to take out cash when you need it most. Some banks will let you fill out the form online, like TD Bank and Chase, others require a phone call, like Barclays. Be sure to inform them of your travel schedule AND include the airports you’ll be spending time in during layovers.
Print ALL travel documents and confirmations.
You may have trouble accessing the internet, so this step is really important. Make sure you have every address, phone number and confirmation printed and placed nicely in a travel folder. If you’d prefer storing the information in your phone, that works too! Just as long as everything is in one place. Even email a back up to yourself. After all, being too prepared or too organized doesn’t exist in the travel world!
Photocopy your passport.
Make sure your passport is photocopied with a copy stored safely at home. Also, if you can, give another copy to one of your family members for safe keeping (without emailing it). You can never be too safe!
Share your travel itinerary using TripIt.
Send your travel plans to a family member, so they know where you are going to be. When you travel out of the country, you might not get much time to check in. If someone has your itinerary, it will make them feel at ease if they don’t hear from you every day! TripIt is an awesome website and app that will organize your itinerary for you. You can even share with with family via email. It’s that easy!
Research cost of food, sites and transportation and PLAN YOUR BUDGET!
This is one of the most important parts of your travel checklist. Knowing what you’re going to spend before takeoff. The best surprises are no surprises at all, when it comes to expenses at least! Set realistic expectations for your spending, and it’ll help you budget more accurately. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself caught off guard and spending way more than you anticipated. Budget Your Trip is a website that will walk you through the budgeting process. It takes costs of each destination into account, costs that come from real travelers like you!
Take the time to research the destination.
You’ve already committed to your trip, so now commit to researching. The worst thing to do would be to forget the research and find out about something you didn’t see AFTER your trip ends. To get the most out of your money, learn all that you can about your destination. Tripadvisor’s top 10 things to do and Lonely Planet are great places to start! Personally, we like to read about the history of each destination that we’re traveling to so we have a greater appreciation for what we’re seeing while we’re there.
Weigh your bags to prevent extra baggage fees.
Weigh your carry-ons with a Travel Scale and your checked baggage ahead of time. Be sure to look up the requirements, since they vary according to the airline.
Use Tile App to track your bags.
We put one of these in every suitcase, just in case. It’s a tiny Bluetooth tracker, so you know exactly where your bags are at all times. If the airline loses your bag, you’ll be one step ahead of them.
Create a menu of things to do – to keep your travel freedom AND to be ready for every situation!
Everybody plans their travel days differently, but we’ve found it beneficial to create an a la carte menu for everything we want to see. Then we can plan each day spontaneously, but have all the information we need in one place! We know what to do when the weather’s bad or the options we have when we’re exhausted and need an easier travel day.
Invest in REAL camera equipment!
DON’T rely on your iPhone to take all the pictures. Invest in good equipment to document your journey. We use the Sony Alpha a6000 for most of our pictures and video, but also purchased the Sony ActionCam for the more adventurous activities! You paid a lot of this trip, so why come back with blurry memories?
Label your luggage.
Of course this is a give in, but when you purchase a new suitcase or if you’ve changed addresses, it’s something that can be easily forgotten. Double check and make sure your bags are labeled! You can even mark them with a colorful piece of duct tape to spot them easily at baggage claim.
Keep a small empty backpack in your suitcase, just in case!
If you have to remove items due to weight restrictions at check in, this is a GREAT lifesaver and travel hack. For $13, the Gonex Ultra Lightweight Backpack has been one of our best travel purchases to date! It folds into a tiny pocket, so it can literally fit into everything. Every time we’ve flown to a new destination, we’ve used it!
If there’s a time change, adjust your schedule BEFORE departure.
The last thing you want to do is waste a day adjusting to a time change. Do yourself a favor, and change your schedule at least 1 day before departure to what your new time will be. Pretend you are already there! Whether it’s sleeping in later or staying up late, this will ensure no minute is wasted. You’ll arrive feeling fresh and ready to explore!
Pack, eliminate and then pack once more!
The more efficient you are with packing, the better. Plan an outfit for each day ahead of time, and make sure they’re all interchangeable! Wearing clothes more than once is totally acceptable when you’re on the road. It will help limit what you’ll be carrying, making travel easier and less stressful. To pack more efficiently, we used Ziploc Space bags, which helped us condense and fit it all.
Invest in a Portable Charger.
This is a lifesaver, especially when you’re going to be out and about exploring during your trip. Always carry a fully charged portable charger, and keep your electronics charged at all times.
Research where to get a SIM card in your destination.
Sometimes it’s easy to find at the airport or train station and other times, you’ll need to stop at a kiosk or mobile store for a SIM card. Either way, know where to go in advance. We usually read forums online, since the information is out there and can be easily found. It will start your trip off smoothly, getting you connected right away. That means access to maps, taxis and other travel resources immediately.
Ensure that your phone is unlocked.
If you’re planning to use a SIM card, make sure your phone is unlocked, so that it can be used abroad. Using an old phone will also work with your SIM card, so bring it along if you prefer to use that instead for traveling.
Keep up with the media and check for any travel alerts.
Not to make you paranoid, but to ensure you’re informed and prepared. Check out the US Passports & International Travel site for any issued travel alerts before you depart.
Purchase the proper converters.
We purchased the BESTEK Portable Converter, which comes with all the plugs you’ll need. It also has 4 USB ports and an on/off switch. Most importantly, you’re electronics won’t get fried with this converter, which is the most important!
Look into Travel Insurance.
No one wants to think about the what ifs while you’re traveling, which is why travel insurance is perfect for peace of mind. Of course this might depend on the length of your trip and your destination, but do your research and see if travel insurance is something you want to invest in, just in case things go wrong. World nomads is a reputable company, and recommended by many travel bloggers who rely on them full time.
Exchange money ahead of time.
Usually, you’re bank can help you exchange money, so do it ahead of time!! They overcharge at the airports, and who wants to be running around looking for places to exchange money when you could be experiencing the city instead?! You can also use Travelex before you leave to track currency rates and order currency online!
Save emergency numbers in your phone.
Know the 911 emergency number in your destination ahead of time. Save it in your phone, so you’re not left looking it up in an emergency situation.
Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Nothing is worse than rushing in an airport, and this is something that can be easily avoided. You’ve invested too much into this adventure – no need to begin it with stress! We always get to the airport 3 hours before international flights to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Double check and make sure you have all travel equipment you need!
Here is a list of everything we own and use ALL the time. We spent a lot of time researching the best and most affordable equipment before we moved to Austria. Check it out and see if anything will help enhance your journey too!
Okay, now that you’ve completed your travel checklist, you’re ready. You’ve done everything you can to prepare for ALL the awesome coming your way. It’s time to sit back, relax and go with the flow, no matter what obstacles you face. Just remember, you can only plan for so much, and that is the most important thing to keep in mind before take off and during your travels.
Enjoy your trip!
Would you add anything to our travel checklist?