It’s Summer!???? Well, maybe not officially, but close enough. School’s out and it’s time to travel. Before you hop the next international flight, I would like to share a few tips and tricks on preparing for an adventure abroad.
International Travel Prep Checklist
- International Cell Phone Plans – Most cell phone companies offer customers the option of a temporary plan while traveling. I can’t speak for all carriers, but I know that ours has two different options. Make sure you ask your customer service representative to explain them in detail. Most companies are going to try to sell you the option that is most profitable for them, not necessarily what’s best for you. Do your research!
- International travel power strip – These nifty little devices have become a basic necessity for many travelers. Unlike their predecessors, the basic international plug adapters, these power strips allow you to plug multiple USB and standard plugs into one station. The adapter is built right in. No more carrying separate plug adapters for each device!
- Extra phone cord – Let’s face it, phone cords are not known for being sturdy, or easy to keep track of when moving from place to place. It’s always a good idea to have a spare.
- Portable chargers for phone – These are a must. I recommend investing in several of these little devices. I would keep two charged at all times. When traveling abroad, taking pictures with your phone is much easier than carrying a camera. You will find, however, that your phone’s battery will drain more quickly than usual. A portable charger can be a lifesaver when your phone goes dead and you’re witnessing a picturesque Roman sunset.
- Day bag – You will need some sort of bag, or pouch, to carry things you will need throughout the day. Using a backpack in the traditional manner is strongly discouraged. A lot of cities, especially those with tourists, have a problem with pickpockets. Having a backpack on your back makes you, and your stuff, a prime target. I like my stuff! I want to come home with everything I left with. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple ways to hang on to your belongings. First, if you really like using a backpack, simply thrown it over one shoulder and hold the openings to the front of your body. Second, you can simply wear your backpack on the front of your body. This may, however, prove to be hot and uncomfortable for long periods of time. Third, and my personal favorite option, carry a different type of bag! Cross-body style bags are a great option, especially if they have a nylon strap, as they prevent thieves from cutting the strap and running off with your stuff. A final option is a travel belt-style wallet. These can be hidden under your clothes. While the belt may not allow you to pack any newfound souvenirs, it will provide a safe place for your money and ID.
- Women – Most churches require that your shoulders and knees be covered upon entering the building. You have a couple of great options here. You can simply wear clothes that cover these area or bring along a large scarf. A scarf may be wrapped around your waist to cover your knees or around your shoulders to cover your upper arms. Maxi skirts are great too!
- Men – Sorry guys, your options are somewhat limited. Long pants and a shirt with sleeves are required. If you’re worried about being hot after your church visit, consider a pair of thin joggers. You can pull up the legs to cool off.
- Travel size liquids – TSA does not allow large bottles of liquids. Leave the economy size shampoo at home! Toss a couple of travel size bottles into a plastic ziplock bag and buy more when you get there. You may also consider shampoo and conditioner bars. Yep, those are real things. Google it!
- ***Passport***- This is vital information. Be sure to keep a couple of copies in various secure places. It’s always a good idea to make a copy for your chaperones as well, if you are traveling internationally with a tour group!
- ***Money*** – First and foremost, make sure to bring some cash along with you. You do not want to arrive in a foreign country without any money. If possible do a currency exchange before you leave home. Check with your local bank to see if they have the particular currency you need. It is not necessary to exchange all of the money you plan to take with you. You will have the opportunity to exchange more along the way. ATMs are a great way to do this. The fees are much lower through most banks than those of exchange offices in airports.
- Money for restroom – Yes, some places charge a nominal fee to use public restrooms. Be prepared!
- ***Alert your bank*** – Please, please, please let your bank know that you will be out of the country. Otherwise, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when you reach your destination and your debit card does not work!
- ***ID*** – Bring your ID and make copies of it. Stash these copies along with those of your passport.
Important medical documents and prescription medicines – A lot of other countries have free health care; therefore, a quick trip to the doctor will not be billed to you or your insurance company. If you are traveling with a tour group, you may be required to have medical forms that give permission for treatment.
- Itinerary – I always like to keep a copy of my itinerary. It’s a great idea to snap a picture of it on your phone.
- List of emergency contacts – This is just standard procedure and good practice when you travel. A great way to store this information is by creating a few contacts in your phone with the label ICE (in case of emergency). You can label them as ICE1, ICE2, ICE3, etc. If you are traveling with a tour group, it’s a good idea to put a chaperone as one of your contacts.
- Headphones – It’s a good idea to bring along your personal headphones. These come in handy for long international flights. They are also great for plugging into guided tour devices in museums!
- Something to use as pillow and blanket on the plane – Have you seen the new travel pillows that work multiple ways, including allowing you to put your arms through the holes and lean forward onto your seat tray? They’re awesome! And, they’re inflatable! As for a blanket, you can always grab a small cheap fleece blanket at Walmart. They fold up relatively small, and can act as a pillow as well.
- Eyeglasses – A lot of people wear contacts, but if you have a pair of backup glasses consider wearing them on the plane ride. The air in the cabin of the plane is extremely dry and can wreak havoc on your contact lenses and your eyes.
- Pack light – Consider packing in just a carry-on, if at all possible. This is especially helpful if you will be visiting multiple cities in your time abroad. Lugging an over-sized suitcase from point to point is not fun. A few of great ways to lighten your travel load are to:
Leave some things behind – Only bring along the basics. You won’t need your expensive jewelry, your gaming system, or your dumbbells.
Pack clothes that are made of wrinkle-resistant fabric (T-shirts!)
Roll your clothes instead of folding them
Pack smaller items inside of larger ones (ex. socks inside of shoes)
Bring a mix and match wardrobe. This really helps clear up space in your suitcase.
Pack shoes and heavy items toward wheels to balance your luggage. Have you ever stood your suitcase on its end only to have it topple? It wasn’t balanced correctly!
Extra socks in case of rain – Be sure to put them in your day bag when you head out sightseeing.
- 2 pairs of shoes – Wearing the same shoes every day while traveling can lead to tired achy feet. Tired achy feet lead to no fun. International vacations are all about exploring and having fun. So, bring 2 pairs of shoes. Switching up your shoes each day will energize your feet and keep them from hurting. It’s also a good idea to have a spare pair in case you get wet during your adventure.
Be sure to head over to my Free Downloads page to print a quick copy of this checklist!
Well, there you have it – my preparation checklist for international summer travel. Do you have any tips or tricks for packing for a journey abroad? I would love to hear from you! Be sure to drop me a line in the comment box, or send a quick email.