I wish I could tell you I’m a frequent international traveler. I’m working on it, and this year I’m taking two trips abroad before the halfway mark. The thing is, even with that preparing for a five-day hop down to a Mexican resort town isn’t the same thing as taking off to Southeast Asia for two weeks. As I prepare to launch off on my longest trip yet and the furthest from home it has involved remembering all those things I had to do before international travel and learning some new ones I should have done in the past.
I don’t typically get travel insurance, but my trips aren’t normally this complex. Remembering you need to find out the timeline on visas and vaccinations. And did you know you can register with your embassy so they know how to contact you in the case of emergency? I guess I’ve missed that one in the past.
So as you start planning your international trip take a look at this list of things to do before international travel for those of us who might not go as frequently as we’d like. Below you’ll find tips to get you started and make sure to sign up for the free printable checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
6 Months Prior
I pretty much never book a trip 6 months out. You might, and if so I’m impressed, but at six months you should start the planning stage. It’s important to start researching before international travel on things like where you want to go and finding a date that works for you.
Make sure to black out the dates, even if it’s in general. This will stop you from booking other things during that time that might hold you back from booking your trip when that part comes around. Also, knowing what season you’re going and how long you will have will help narrow down destinations if that isn’t set.
On the logistical side, make sure your passport is going to be valid well through your trip. Some countries require it to be valid for up to three months after. Check out what the countries you’re visiting require. 2016 marks ten years needing a passport to get into Mexico and Canada. That means thousands of extra people will be renewing their passports this year! Make sure to plan extra turn around time, if your passport expires in six months send it in now.
Also, start looking into Visas for the countries you’ll be visiting. Do you need to plan ahead or can you handle it when you arrive? Mark on your calendar when you need to send your information to the consulate if you do.
3 Months Prior
Start watching for flight deals at about this time. You probably won’t want to book yet but you wouldn’t want to miss out on a great sale. Take a look at a few sites I like to use. Typically book international flights about 10-8 weeks out. Also, start researching your itinerary, what cities will you visit and how much do you want to book ahead of time. It’s can be a great time to start booking accommodations if it’s the high-season. If not you can put that off for awhile.
Talk to your doctor about whether you need any vaccinations or medicine for where you’re going. It might even just be flu season on the other side of the equator but you want to be safe. If you haven’t already, look into the Global Entry Program where you can speed through customs and also get TSA Pre-Check when you’re flying domestic.
If you’re planning on renting a car or scooter, look into getting an International Drivers Permit. You can pick on up at your local AAA office for a small fee.
1 Month Prior
Now it’s time to dig into activities. Build up a list of research on things you want to do and places you want to go. One of my favorite resources in Pinterest, where you can find other blogger’s articles on locations. More resources that can help you plan. You don’t need to go crazy with booking but look at tours and tickets that might be hard to get when you arrive.
A couple more things to check off your list. Register with the embassies of the countries you’re visiting just in case something goes wrong. In that vein, make sure to get travel insurance. Whether it is something serious or just needing to buy some extra things because of lost luggage it’s worth being covered. I use World Nomads when I travel and they have great coverage at good prices.
Start looking at what you need. Do you have it? Is the type of luggage you have what you’ll want (my favorites). What are the bigger things you might want like a waterproof camera or special hiking gear? Start looking into the things that might take you a little longer to get or that you want to take your time and compare.
3 Weeks Prior
Time to start getting some smaller details done before international travel. Look into how you’ll make calls and use your phone while abroad. Do you need to talk to your carrier or do you plan on buying a disposable phone when you arrive?
Make sure to take a look at your regular bills as well. Will any of them come up while you’re gone that aren’t automatic? If so make sure to set them up before you go.
Prep Your Home
If you’re traveling for more than a week put your mail on hold with USPS. It’s easy and free and helps keep your home safe.
You’ve looked into the bigger ones but what are smaller items you don’t just have around the house that you’ll need to pack. Things to keep your belongs safe, an adapter for international outlets and if you’re carrying on you might want to look at things like stick sunblock and bar shampoo.
To make sure you aren’t stressing to book them the week you’re leaving, make any appointments you’d like to have before you leave. For us ladies, that might include your hair, nails or a wax.
1 Week Prior
If you’ve planned it right you shouldn’t have much left to do and shouldn’t be stressed out the week before you leave. Yeah, right! A couple things left include telling your credit card companies and banks you’ll be traveling so they don’t cancel your card.
Print out hard copies of all your travel documents from IDs to confirmations to emergency and medical information.
Also, exchange currency, ideally at your bank since you tend to get the best exchange rate. Look into if there are ATMs to use so you can avoid carrying too much cash on you.
Prep Your Home
Give a friend or neighbor your key and codes to get into your house in case something goes wrong while you’re away.
A Few Days Prior
Time to get started packing and an important one is your carry on. Make sure you have everything you need from entertainment to comfort to health to snacks. Take a look at my 8 things I can’t fly without and sign up below for the checklist with the other things you shouldn’t forget on a long flight.
Also, make sure to download everything you’ll need during the trip from e-books to music to apps.
Prep Your Home
The worst thing is coming home from weeks of travel to a home that is a mess. It’s no fun but clean you home before you leave. Even do your laundry. Make sure the house is how you like it when you get home.
When You’re Leaving
Prep Your Home
One last walk through in your house, unplug and turn off everything. And double check you have everything you need, do not be like me and leave your chargers at home.
Get Ready to Enjoy and Make Some Memories
The Before International Travel Checklist
While this post goes into good details on what you need to do before international travel for those of us who don’t have all of these steps drilled into our brains yet, it isn’t something easy to print out and work off from as you prepare.
Because of this, I’ve put together a special checklist that includes all of the items above and more. Sign up for my weekly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable International Travel Planning Checklist.