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When traveling abroad, you always want to be sure you have the essentials, without carrying the whole house with you.  We usually only think about our clothing and shoes, but there are other things to consider outside of that.  In the hustle and bustle of preparing for you trip, you don’t want to forget anything that may prohibit your travel or damper your experience.  Here is the ultimate travel checklist:



1.  Travel Document
Depending on where you are going, the purpose and length of the trip and your immigrations status, you may need a passport, as well as a tourist visa.  Research the destination’s requirements well ahead of your trip.  You want to give yourself plenty of time to apply for any of these, as well as extra time for processing and mailing.  I like to put my passport in a passport cover, so that it’s easier to find in my handbag.

2.  Photocopies of Travel Document
It’s imperative that you have more than just your original document.  Place copies in your luggage, and on your person.  In an emergency situation, if you lost the original, having a photocopy will make the situation less stressful and a little easier.



3.  Vaccines and Medicines
Many countries have required, as well as recommended vaccinations and medicines for its citizens traveling abroad.  In the U.S, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control website as a source for a list of what’s required.  There may also be a timetable along with the treatment, i.e.: starting taking medicine 7 days before arrival.  Also, your insurance may cover some or all of the associated costs, so check with your provider.



3.  Physical Copy of Travel Itenerary
I know we all have everything in our phones via email and apps.  However, on the chance you lose your phone or the battery dies with your charger in your checked luggage, the physical copy will have all the documented plans.

5.  Research Transportation from Airport to Hotel
You don’t want to get taken advantage of when you arrive at your destination.  You may be hungry, tired, grumpy, etc. after your travels, and don’t want to hop on the first thing smoking.  If you don’t prearrange transportation with your hotel, research or ask them what the typical taxi fare is from the airport to your hotel, based on number of people and how many bags you have.  At least you’ll have an idea of the going rate, and can decide from their which transportation to choose.


6.  Travel Plan on Debit/Credit Cards
During your travels, you want you funds available to you, but also want to prevent fraud.  Before your trip, notify your bank of your travel destination and dates.  This will also save you the embarrassment of having a transaction declined because your bank doesn’t know you have traveled.  To protect your debit/credit cards, place in RFID blocking sleeves, to block thieves from skimming and stealing your personal information.  This applies to carrying cards around in every day life, not just during travel.



7.  Multi-Purpose Cleaning Wipes
Multi-purpose cleaning wipes will come in handy to clean your personal area on a plane, train, etc. while traveling: trays, remotes, arm rests, etc.  You can also use to wipe down surfaces in your hotel room, along with disinfectant spray.

8.  Face Cloths
Many countries do not have face cloths in their lodging, or anywhere for that matter.  They have bath and hand towels, but no face cloths.  Before traveling, go to your local store and buy a few inexpensive ones.  I usually buy 1 for each day of travel.  As I buy cheap ones,  I am fine with throwing it away at the end of each day.  If you don’t want to throw them away, bring a ziplock bag to place in after drying overnight.  

In the past, when I didn’t bring any face cloths, I’d cut the hotel’s hand towel in half to make some.  Sorry.  This abruptly stopped when I got a nice charge on my hotel bill in Paris for their towel.  Lesson learned.



9.  Electric Converters and Plug Adapters
Purchase an electric converter and plug adapters for your electronic devices and appliances.  Converters actually convert the electricity for items such as hair dryers and curling irons.  Plug adapters do not convert electricity.  They just allow dual-voltage appliances from one country to be plugged into the outlet of another country.  Your phone and tablets usually have converters built in the cord’s base.  Please verify for your make/model.  In this case, you’ll just need an adapter that fits to the electrical outlet of country visiting.  If you forget adapters, many hotels stock them at the front desk.  An electric converter is on the travel checklist, as hotels don’t generally have these on hand. 

10.  Mobile Hotspot
Depending on your mobile phone carrier, as well as your cell behavior during travel, you may or may not need a mobile hotspot.  Some carriers offer unlimited international data, so they cover you.  If you feel can get by with just using WI-FI, then this isn’t an issue.  The hotspot will not cover international calls (with exception of international calls over WIFI, so you’ll need to check with your carrier about what they cover and what you can purchase to supplement, if needed.  The mobile hotspot carrier will have a coverage list, by country.

An alternative to a mobile hotspot spot is traveling with an unlocked phone and purchasing a SIM card when you arrive at your destination.  Try to stay away from purchasing at the airport, as it’s usually more expensive there.

11.  Mobile Apps
Here are some apps that I find helpful while traveling.  Download to your device before departing for your trip:

  • WhatsApp – make calls over WIFI to your contact list.  Your contacts must have the app on their device as well
  • GlobeConvert (or any other conversion app) – converts currency 
  • Google Translate
  • Google Maps – I think you can download and use offline
  • Airline apps – to receive flight notifications (cancellations, delays, gate changes, etc.)
  • Your banking apps – use to periodically check debit/credit accounts to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.  The sooner you discover fraudulent activity, the better.

This is in no way an exhaustive travel checklist, but is what immediately comes to my mind.  You can also add location of nearest police station, hospital, and U.S. Embassy (or your home country).  Some items listed above may not apply to you, so substitute with others that fit your situation.  Print this travel checklist and cross off items as you complete them.

What do you consider ‘essentials’ for traveling abroad?