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  • Writer's pictureSarah S.

International Travel Checklist

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”-Confucius

We are still debating on whether we’d like to travel within our home country of the United States or internationally. Also, what will make the smoothest transition from living stationary to having newfound freedom. An international travel checklist seemed like a good place to start.

It may be easier to start the process within our country, but we would love to have world exposure. I am trying to not let fear of the unknown be an excuse to not dip our toes in the water and go international.

For this reason, I have decided to research an international travel checklist to see what would be necessary if we decided to leap into world travel.

U.S. Department of State

My research led me to the U.S. Department of State’s website with some tips. While they don’t advise traveling to “high-risk areas,” they do suggest registering with State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (Step). You will receive info from your embassy about safety conditions, help the Embassy contact you in case of emergency, civil war, or family emergencies, and help family contact you in case there is an emergency back home.


Check country information and contact the foreign embassy in the country you intend to visit to verify any vaccinations that you may need to obtain prior to entry. Some countries require you to carry your International Certificate of Vaccination, also called the yellow card as proof.

If you have any worries about preventing malaria, vaccine recommendations, or taking precautions before overseas travel you can contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Schengen Agreement

This agreement is a treaty that ties together 26 European countries, where most border checks have been nullified for short-term tourism, business, or transition to a non-Schengen location.

The U.S. Department of State recommends you carry your passport and verify it is valid for an additional 6 months after you’ve traveled abroad. Especially children’s passports, which are only valid for 5 years.

Continue carrying your passport through Schengen areas, as they could reinstate border checks at any time.

Be sure to get your passport stamped when you enter and exit the Schengen area.

If you spend three months in the Schengen area within a six-month period, you will be required to wait an additional three months from the last date you left the Schengen area before re-entry to the area without a visa.

If you plan to stay within the Schengen area for longer than 3 months you will need to contact the embassy of the country you intend on occupying the bulk of your time, to apply for a visa.

More On Your International Travel Checklist

So I delved into a few things that are worth thinking about. But here are a few more tips that may be common sense, yet still made me agree in consideration that they are worth noting.

Money Plans

Inform your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling abroad.

Check exchange rates and currency information before you go.

Be in the know when it comes to ATM/bank fees

Important Documents

Make 2 copies of your original documents. Leave one copy with a trusted family member or friend. The other carry with you but keep separate from your original documents.

Don’t carry your passport in your back pocket and keep your money and your passport apart from each other.

Passport Renewals

I mentioned earlier your passport should be valid for six months after returning home. But did you know it should have two or more blank pages, depending on where you are headed? Some countries will deny entry if it doesn’t, so be sure to check first.

Good to note if you are a single parent traveling with children, bring a letter of consent from the other parent along with your child’s passport. Bring proper documents along with passports for adopted children.

Do I Need A Visa

It may be necessary to acquire a visa prior to arriving at a foreign destination. Check with the embassy of the countries you plan to visit to get information.

Bringing Medications

Because some U.S. over-the-counter medications, including narcotics, are not legal in other countries. It may be advantageous to check with the embassy of your destination regarding documentation or regulations that you need to be aware of before traveling.

International Driving

Funny thing, I wasn’t even thinking about this, as I just assumed I would make my way around via foot, bicycle, bus, train, boat, plane, etc. But…you never know, this could come up as a possibility. Either way, it is probably better to be informed.

U.S. driver’s licenses are not recognized in many countries. Canada and Mexico may allow your U.S. driver’s license but double-check with your car insurance before you go.

Most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). This can be obtained through AAA (American Automobile Association) or AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance). You may even need to get supplemental auto insurance.

Rail Pass

You may need to purchase a rail pass in advance, before leaving the U.S. Rail seat reservations can be made prior to your trip, as well.


Another thing to consider in your planning is whether or not to get additional insurance. There is health insurance, emergency insurance in case of having to evacuate due to a major disaster in another country, and for any trip cancellations.


For more information on what is allowed in a carry-on and luggage, you can go to the Transportation Security Administration’s website.

In closing, I hope this is article is useful to begin your international journey. At the very least, it will get you thinking about preparations before you leave. Remember the first step in making it happen is to get started.

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