Leaving for an international trip takes a little bit more planning than just a weekend away. Over the years I’ve come up with a pretty good routine so I don’t forget anything. Here is my international pre-departure checklist.


Check your passport: Make sure your passport hasn’t expired and make sure that if you need it that there is six months validity left. Some countries require it to enter the country.

Get your vaccines: Do you need any extra vaccinations before you go? Check the CDC website and make a doctor’s appointment to get them.


Stock up on your meds: Make sure you have enough of all your regular prescription medications so you have time to call your doctor and pharmacy if you need them refilled before you go.

Hold your mail: If you think your mail will stack up you can put in a request with the post office to have your mail held temporarily while you are away.

Figure out your cell phone plan: Call or visit your cell phone provider to find out what your plan will cover. Some plans include visiting places like Mexico and Canada in their US plan. Some carriers you can pay an additional day by day charge for international roaming.

Do a test run packing and check your airline’s luggage restrictions: Start gathering what you think you’ll be packing so you can see how much you need to pare down or if there are last minute toiletries that you need to run out and get. Also, make sure your bags fit the limits of the airline you are flying and that if you are on a budget airline you’ve paid for any additional baggage that you will be bringing.

Confirm your itinerary: Review all your reservations in case you need to make any last minute changes.


Call your bank(s)/credit card companies: Call the number on the back of your card to confirm with your banks that you will be traveling out of the country so your cards aren’t frozen.

Get some cash: Even if you plan to withdraw local currency when you arrive at your destination it’s always a good idea to carry some backup cash. I usually carry USD with me that I don’t plan on using but have just in case.

Screenshot your directions/reservation documents: I have learned one too many times that just because it’s in your email doesn’t mean it will load when you need it to. Screenshot the email so that you don’t need any data/wifi to view it.

Give a friend your keys: If you’re going to be away for a long time I think it’s a good idea to give a friend a key for two reasons. One, in case something happens to your apartment and you need someone to get in. And two so you don’t have to carry your keys around with you traveling.

Double check your flight time: Don’t make the mistake of mixing up an am or pm or showing up at the wrong time. Double check your flight, that it is still on schedule and that you will be leaving with enough time. It is usually recommended that for international flights you arrive two hours before boarding.

Register with the Embassy: You can sign up online for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online. It will help the Embassy keep track of you if something happens and will send you any local alerts while you’re there.

Pack: Finally, pack your bags!