The Essentials To Pack For An International Trip

If you’re gearing up for an international trip, lucky you! You’re probably pretty excited, but you might be wondering what it is you need for a trip out of the country. You want to save space in your suitcase for souvenirs, but there’s little worse on a trip than to get there and find out you’ve left something vital at home. Of course, not all countries are the same — from visa requirements to weather. Here are some things you’ll want to have with you before you head to another country.

Make sure you’ve looked into passport and visa requirements as far in advance of your trip as you can. The U.S. Department of State recommends making sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date and has at least two blank pages. You also want to take the time to do some research about where you’re going to see if you need a special visa to visit. It’s recommended that you check the embassy or consulate website of the country you’re visiting. You don’t want to get turned away at the border with outdated or missing documents.

Don't get stuck without cash

First and foremost, it’s important to keep a copy of the front page of your passport and visa with you on your trip — but not in the same place in case the location of one gets compromised, according to USA Today. Make sure you’ve written down any emergency contacts as well as the address for where you’ll be staying. This is one of the things that travelers generally get asked upon entry, per One Chel of an Adventure.

TripSavvy recommends figuring out if you’ll need an adapter or converter for your phone and other electronic devices that you need to charge, and to check in with your cell phone provider to see if you’ll get charged for using your device in another country. International trips often involve a lot of downtime in transit; Make sure you have headphones and things to do. Smarter Travel says pre-downloading books, podcasts, or movies on your phone or tablet is the way to go so you don’t have to rely on a cell signal. 

It’s useful to have a credit card or two, a debit card, and some cash with you abroad, as you don’t want to ever be without money. Experian suggests calling your credit card company to tell them where you’re going so they don’t think someone stole your card. You can get local currency by using your debit card at an ATM machine to avoid the large commission fees at the airport, per Travelocity.

Use containers to make your toiletries are travel-size

Toiletries and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or band-aids are a must when traveling. You might be able to easily get replacements where you’re going, but do you want to spend your free time in a foreign country trying to hunt down sunscreen and shampoo? Probably not. If you’re staying in a hotel, you can double check to see what they provide in terms of toiletries. And instead of specifically buying travel-size toiletries, which are often expensive, you can pre-fill your own containers, like the Cadence capsules, with just the amount you need for your trip.

If you have prescribed medication, bring enough for your trip plus a bit extra in case of any unexpected delays, as recommended by Worldpackers. In the case of prescriptions, the CDC recommends keeping them in their original packaging or bottles. You don’t want to have to deal with getting a refill overseas, but in case something happens, have a copy of your prescriptions from your doctor available. Make sure to put those medications in your carry-on and not your checked bag.

Pack comfy clothing that's easy to care for

Airplanes are cold, and you may be charged for a blanket once boarded, per the Los Angeles Times. A pashmina style scarf can be used in lieu of a blanket and it can also work to cover up as needed in places of worship, as a sarong for the beach, and as a towel, according to Burger Abroad. There are also scarves, like the Speakeasy infinity scarves, that include a secret pocket large enough for your passport or phone.

It’s recommended by Smarter Travel to pack clothing you can mix-and-match, that is easy to care for (who wants to iron on a trip?), and that’s comfortable; A trip isn’t the time to break in a new pair of shoes. Take the time to check the weather and pack accordingly, and also consider what type of activities you’ll be doing. If you’re going to head out on the town, make sure you have a fancy outfit ready to go. If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking, be prepped for the trail. And in case of delays, put an outfit or at least clean underwear in your carry-on.

Lastly, before you zip up the suitcase, spread out all the clothes you’re taking and really be honest about what items you know you’ll need, as suggested by The New York Times. Your other clothes will be waiting for you when you get home.

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