Information Management

The Essential International Travel Checklist for Your Next Trip

Guy on airplane

Stephanie Booth

Jun 12, 2023

Ray Bradbury advised, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” If you’re ready to pack your bags and head out, we have the tasks you need to put on your international travel checklist.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Plan a trip abroad

  • Confirm (and keep track of) the documents you’ll need overseas 

  • Pack wisely to ensure you’re ready for any situation

Download the International Travel Checklist

Do your research

First things first. Where would you like to go? The world’s a big place, so how do you narrow it down? If you don’t have a dream destination already in mind, you can consider:

Your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend can help you narrow down the list of possibilities.

Your travel companions. Will you be traveling with young kids? Older relatives who need to have more structure (and rest time) in their day? Someone who has limited mobility? 

Your goals. Get clear on what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to relax on a beautiful beach, read, and sip tropical drinks for a week. Or maybe you like the idea of an active vacation that allows you to explore as much of a country as possible. You could also consider a more purposeful vacation and look into volunteering abroad.

Your comfort level. Part of the fun of international travel is stepping outside your comfort zone. How far out of it are you willing to go? For instance, are you ready to visit a country whose language you don’t speak? Are you excited to explore on your own, or do you like the idea of a guided tour?

Your safety. The U.S. State Department maintains up-to-date travel advisories for every country in the world. These range from Level 1 (“Exercise normal precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do not travel” due to life-threatening risks such as civil unrest, a major health issue, or natural disaster.) Check any potential destinations on their Travel Advisory and Alerts.

Still not sure where to go? Look for inspiration on social media, ask friends about their last great vacation, and browse through travel books.

Learn the visa requirements

A visa is a legal document that allows you to enter another country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a U.S. visa to go abroad, but you may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country you’re planning to visit. 

The State Department maintains a comprehensive list of visa requirements and embassy contacts. Search for your destination so you’re clear on the specific requirements. Every country is different. For instance, you don’t need a tourist visa to visit the United Kingdom if your trip will last less than six months, but you will need one to enter Indonesia.

Check your passport

Your passport doesn’t only need to be valid at the time you travel. According to the State Department, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home. (It should also have at least two blank pages.) If those requirements aren’t met, some countries may not let you enter. 

Don’t forget to check the expiration dates of your children’s passports. Passports for kids under 16 years old are only good for five years (versus 10 years for adults.).

If you need to renew a passport, do so as far in advance as possible. It may take several months to receive a new one. Sometimes waiting that long isn’t possible — perhaps your trip is due to a death in the family or an urgent business matter. (Or maybe you simply forgot that your passport expired and your flight to Reykjavík leaves next week.) 

In any of those cases, contact the National Passport Information Center. Your application can be expedited. (In  life-or-death emergencies, you can receive a new passport in as little as 3 days.)

To prevent travel snafus, keep track of multiple passports for each of your family members in Trustworthy, including expiration date reminders and country-specific renewal instructions for select countries.

Check your travel dates and make reservations

Although airlines often offer last-minute fare sales, it’s not always easy to quickly get time off work, find a sitter for your house or dog (more on that coming up), and jump on a plane. But if you plan ahead — ideally, as many as seven months ahead — you can still land some great deals on international travel. 

According to a CheapAir.com study which analyzed more than a million airfares to international destinations, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days you’re most likely to find reservations to fit your budget.

Off-season travel also results in big savings. For instance, July is the most expensive month to fly to Europe and March is the cheapest. 

Get any required immunizations

Traveling overseas can raise your risk of getting sick with diseases that aren’t common in the U.S. To stay safe, you’re required to have certain vaccines administered ahead of time. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out which specific shots are required for your planned destination. For instance, there’s currently an outbreak of yellow fever in Ghana. Proof of vaccination is required by anyone over 9 months of age to enter the country.

Other immunizations you may need before you can enter some countries range from the COVID-19 vaccine to a shot that protects you from typhoid. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor at least one month before you travel. They can confirm and administer the vaccines you need, and provide the necessary documentation you’ll need.

Line up a housesitter, petsitter, and/or childcare

If you’re planning to go abroad without your kids, figure out reliable childcare as soon as possible. Check with family members and close friends to see who’s available. The most important requirement is that your child feels comfortable with them. Even so, you may want to suggest that they stay in your home. That way, your child’s routine is less likely to be disrupted.

If you have houseplants that will need watering or a pet to be cared for, line up a trusted house and/or pet sitter.

To find them:

  • Start with word of mouth recommendations. Ask friends or family members if they can refer someone.

  • Look online. Plenty of websites can help you find potential sitters, from nonprofits like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to care.com and Rover.com.

  • Schedule a meet and greet. Just because your Uncle Larry loved a particular sitter doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for what you need. Arrange to meet them in person, so you can go over what needs to be done. (This is also a great opportunity to see how they interact with your pet.)

  • Ask questions. References will be important, but also ask about their rates, experience, and how they’d manage certain emergencies.

  • Provide instructions and emergency numbers. Make sure they’re clear on their responsibilities and who to turn to for support. Put this essential info in Trustworthy and you can grant your caregivers and sitters access. (And have peace of mind that they’ll always know where it is.) 

Make copies of important documents

Here are the documents that should be on your international travel checklist:

  • Your passport

  • Your children’s passports

  • Visa to enter a foreign country (if applicable)

  • Consent to travel with minors (if only one parent is traveling)

  • Documentation for medication: In some countries, prescription and even over-the-counter medicines in the U.S. may be illegal, so authorization from your doctor is essential. Check the embassy of the country you’ll be visiting to see what legal documentation you’ll need to carry.

  • International Driving Permit  (IDP): Some countries won’t accept a U.S. driver's license. If your destination doesn’t but you’d like to drive, you’ll need to apply for an IDP while still in the U.S.

  • Supplemental auto insurance (if needed)

The State Department recommends making two copies of these documents in case of an emergency. Leave one copy at home and take the other one with you, separate from the originals. 

Don’t forget to upload these essential docs to Trustworthy, as well. Because you have the ability to sync information instantly between your computer, phone, and tablet, you and your family can always access it.

Choose travel insurance

Hopefully you’ll never need to tap into a travel insurance policy, but it’s a worthy investment just in case. Expect to spend between 4 to 10 percent of your trip’s total cost, and in return, you’ll get benefits that can include:

  • Baggage loss

  • Trip cancellation and delay coverage

  • Trip interruption coverage (due to illness or injury)

  • Medical expenses

  • Emergency evacuation benefits

Pro-tip: Contact your credit card companies. Travel insurance is often a built-in benefit to card holders, and at no added cost. (The caveat is that you must book the trip on that specific card.)

Notify your credit card company

Card companies are always on high alert for fraud. Without your heads up that you’ll be traveling overseas, your card could get frozen at an inopportune time. (Like when you’re just about to pay for that gondola ride in Venice.)

Check your card issuer’s website to learn how to set up a travel notice. Be ready to provide the dates you'll be traveling and the countries you’ll be visiting. (That includes any countries in which you have a flight layover.) And if you haven’t done so already, download your cards’ mobile apps. Having them on your phone will make it easier for you to get help if you run into any issues on your trip.

Check your international cell coverage

While your dream vacation may include unplugging from all technology, staying connected overseas has its perks. For instance, family can reach you in case of an emergency and Google Translate will be at your fingertips. Your smartphone won’t abruptly stop working in another country, but its functionality will be limited unless you take one of these steps:

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about an international plan. Find out what your current plan allows. Some providers automatically activate calling/roaming/data features when you travel overseas, but you’ll want to know the cost ahead of time.

  • Buy or rent a local SIM card. Once you arrive at your destination, buy or rent a SIM card and install it on your phone. (You can also buy and download one online.) This will allow you to call, text, and use any other features in the country that you’re visiting. Make sure that your phone is “unlocked,” meaning that you can use it with any cellular provider.

Follow airline luggage restrictions

Every airline gets to decide their own luggage rules, from how much you’ll pay to check a suitcase to how large (and heavy) your carry-on bag is allowed to be. (Other variable factors include the size of the aircraft and the cabin class you’re sitting in.) 

Always check with your airline before you start packing. That way, you can avoid unexpected fees at the airport.

Pack wisely

There’s an art to packing when you go abroad. These tips can help you master it:

  • Keep essentials close by. Luggage goes missing — a lot. Always pack essentials (like your travel documents, medications, extra glasses, and a few days worth of clothes) in your carry-on.

  • Know your necessities. For instance, if you’re planning on walking 8 miles each day in the Moroccan desert, comfortable shoes are non-negotiable. Prone to migraines when the weather's hot and humid? It’s wise to bring your headache meds with you to Hong Kong. 

  • Stay connected. Add a universal travel adapter, portable backup charger and even a WiFI mobile hotspot to your international travel checklist.

  • Use every last little bit of space in your suitcase. For instance, space-saving bags allow you to seal items and suck out all the air, saving an astonishing amount of space. You can also find videos online that show you how to more efficiently roll, fold, position, and stack clothes in your bag.

  • Get some help. If packing is not your forte, consider using a packing checklist app. Enter specifics like your destination, when you’re traveling, and the activities you have planned, and you’ll get a list of suggested items to bring. 

Find entertainment options for travel time

If you frequently travel within the U.S., you know how to stay entertained in-flight: Download music, TV shows, or movies ahead of time so you’re not stuck watching the airline’s limited options or paying to use their WiFi. (Just remember to bring your headphones.) 

When you’re traveling internationally, you won’t be able to stream as much (or as easily) as you do from your couch at home.

For instance, Netflix and Amazon Prime only let you stream select titles in other countries. (Amazon even has a “Watch While Abroad” category.) Downloading these titles is allowed, if you have a compatible device.

You may have heard of using a VPN (virtual private network) to access your full streaming library. This clever software masks your IP address and location so streamers can’t tell that you’re in a different country. That said, streaming services frown upon VPN usage and could decide to suspend or delete your account at their discretion. You’re better off waiting until you get home before rewatching “The Boss Baby” for the fourth time.

Obtain local currency

The value of the U.S. dollar fluctuates against the currency of other countries, but where you get your foreign cash matters, too. 

Generally speaking, the best rates (and cheapest fees) are usually found at your local bank or credit union before you leave the country. Just don’t wait until you’re on your way to the airport — they may have to order it for you, which could take a day or two.

You can also buy foreign currency through an online service like Travelex, then pick it up at one of their locations. 

Don’t have time to get local money before you head out? Skip the airport kiosks. While convenient, they often have extremely high exchange rates. Instead, find an ATM affiliated with your bank. (To avoid more fees, try to take out one large amount instead of several small withdrawals.)

Before you exchange any currency, use an online currency converter so you know what a fair exchange rate is. While you want your vacation to be an adventure, you don’t want overpaying to be part of it. 

And while local cash certainly comes in hand, using your credit card can also be a great option since it often comes with the comfort of fraud protection. Try to use a no-foreign-fee debit card or a credit card that does not charge fees for foreign transactions. If you’re not sure about your cards’ terms, call your issuer for assistance.

There’s a lot of prep involved when you’re leaving the country (and your comfort zone), but don’t let that dissuade you from packing your bags. Trustworthy can help you get organized and stay connected to the information and people who are most important to you. That means you can relax and enjoy yourself, no matter where you are in the world.

Information Management

The Essential International Travel Checklist for Your Next Trip

Guy on airplane

Stephanie Booth

Jun 12, 2023

Ray Bradbury advised, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” If you’re ready to pack your bags and head out, we have the tasks you need to put on your international travel checklist.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Plan a trip abroad

  • Confirm (and keep track of) the documents you’ll need overseas 

  • Pack wisely to ensure you’re ready for any situation

Download the International Travel Checklist

Do your research

First things first. Where would you like to go? The world’s a big place, so how do you narrow it down? If you don’t have a dream destination already in mind, you can consider:

Your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend can help you narrow down the list of possibilities.

Your travel companions. Will you be traveling with young kids? Older relatives who need to have more structure (and rest time) in their day? Someone who has limited mobility? 

Your goals. Get clear on what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to relax on a beautiful beach, read, and sip tropical drinks for a week. Or maybe you like the idea of an active vacation that allows you to explore as much of a country as possible. You could also consider a more purposeful vacation and look into volunteering abroad.

Your comfort level. Part of the fun of international travel is stepping outside your comfort zone. How far out of it are you willing to go? For instance, are you ready to visit a country whose language you don’t speak? Are you excited to explore on your own, or do you like the idea of a guided tour?

Your safety. The U.S. State Department maintains up-to-date travel advisories for every country in the world. These range from Level 1 (“Exercise normal precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do not travel” due to life-threatening risks such as civil unrest, a major health issue, or natural disaster.) Check any potential destinations on their Travel Advisory and Alerts.

Still not sure where to go? Look for inspiration on social media, ask friends about their last great vacation, and browse through travel books.

Learn the visa requirements

A visa is a legal document that allows you to enter another country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a U.S. visa to go abroad, but you may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country you’re planning to visit. 

The State Department maintains a comprehensive list of visa requirements and embassy contacts. Search for your destination so you’re clear on the specific requirements. Every country is different. For instance, you don’t need a tourist visa to visit the United Kingdom if your trip will last less than six months, but you will need one to enter Indonesia.

Check your passport

Your passport doesn’t only need to be valid at the time you travel. According to the State Department, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home. (It should also have at least two blank pages.) If those requirements aren’t met, some countries may not let you enter. 

Don’t forget to check the expiration dates of your children’s passports. Passports for kids under 16 years old are only good for five years (versus 10 years for adults.).

If you need to renew a passport, do so as far in advance as possible. It may take several months to receive a new one. Sometimes waiting that long isn’t possible — perhaps your trip is due to a death in the family or an urgent business matter. (Or maybe you simply forgot that your passport expired and your flight to Reykjavík leaves next week.) 

In any of those cases, contact the National Passport Information Center. Your application can be expedited. (In  life-or-death emergencies, you can receive a new passport in as little as 3 days.)

To prevent travel snafus, keep track of multiple passports for each of your family members in Trustworthy, including expiration date reminders and country-specific renewal instructions for select countries.

Check your travel dates and make reservations

Although airlines often offer last-minute fare sales, it’s not always easy to quickly get time off work, find a sitter for your house or dog (more on that coming up), and jump on a plane. But if you plan ahead — ideally, as many as seven months ahead — you can still land some great deals on international travel. 

According to a CheapAir.com study which analyzed more than a million airfares to international destinations, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days you’re most likely to find reservations to fit your budget.

Off-season travel also results in big savings. For instance, July is the most expensive month to fly to Europe and March is the cheapest. 

Get any required immunizations

Traveling overseas can raise your risk of getting sick with diseases that aren’t common in the U.S. To stay safe, you’re required to have certain vaccines administered ahead of time. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out which specific shots are required for your planned destination. For instance, there’s currently an outbreak of yellow fever in Ghana. Proof of vaccination is required by anyone over 9 months of age to enter the country.

Other immunizations you may need before you can enter some countries range from the COVID-19 vaccine to a shot that protects you from typhoid. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor at least one month before you travel. They can confirm and administer the vaccines you need, and provide the necessary documentation you’ll need.

Line up a housesitter, petsitter, and/or childcare

If you’re planning to go abroad without your kids, figure out reliable childcare as soon as possible. Check with family members and close friends to see who’s available. The most important requirement is that your child feels comfortable with them. Even so, you may want to suggest that they stay in your home. That way, your child’s routine is less likely to be disrupted.

If you have houseplants that will need watering or a pet to be cared for, line up a trusted house and/or pet sitter.

To find them:

  • Start with word of mouth recommendations. Ask friends or family members if they can refer someone.

  • Look online. Plenty of websites can help you find potential sitters, from nonprofits like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to care.com and Rover.com.

  • Schedule a meet and greet. Just because your Uncle Larry loved a particular sitter doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for what you need. Arrange to meet them in person, so you can go over what needs to be done. (This is also a great opportunity to see how they interact with your pet.)

  • Ask questions. References will be important, but also ask about their rates, experience, and how they’d manage certain emergencies.

  • Provide instructions and emergency numbers. Make sure they’re clear on their responsibilities and who to turn to for support. Put this essential info in Trustworthy and you can grant your caregivers and sitters access. (And have peace of mind that they’ll always know where it is.) 

Make copies of important documents

Here are the documents that should be on your international travel checklist:

  • Your passport

  • Your children’s passports

  • Visa to enter a foreign country (if applicable)

  • Consent to travel with minors (if only one parent is traveling)

  • Documentation for medication: In some countries, prescription and even over-the-counter medicines in the U.S. may be illegal, so authorization from your doctor is essential. Check the embassy of the country you’ll be visiting to see what legal documentation you’ll need to carry.

  • International Driving Permit  (IDP): Some countries won’t accept a U.S. driver's license. If your destination doesn’t but you’d like to drive, you’ll need to apply for an IDP while still in the U.S.

  • Supplemental auto insurance (if needed)

The State Department recommends making two copies of these documents in case of an emergency. Leave one copy at home and take the other one with you, separate from the originals. 

Don’t forget to upload these essential docs to Trustworthy, as well. Because you have the ability to sync information instantly between your computer, phone, and tablet, you and your family can always access it.

Choose travel insurance

Hopefully you’ll never need to tap into a travel insurance policy, but it’s a worthy investment just in case. Expect to spend between 4 to 10 percent of your trip’s total cost, and in return, you’ll get benefits that can include:

  • Baggage loss

  • Trip cancellation and delay coverage

  • Trip interruption coverage (due to illness or injury)

  • Medical expenses

  • Emergency evacuation benefits

Pro-tip: Contact your credit card companies. Travel insurance is often a built-in benefit to card holders, and at no added cost. (The caveat is that you must book the trip on that specific card.)

Notify your credit card company

Card companies are always on high alert for fraud. Without your heads up that you’ll be traveling overseas, your card could get frozen at an inopportune time. (Like when you’re just about to pay for that gondola ride in Venice.)

Check your card issuer’s website to learn how to set up a travel notice. Be ready to provide the dates you'll be traveling and the countries you’ll be visiting. (That includes any countries in which you have a flight layover.) And if you haven’t done so already, download your cards’ mobile apps. Having them on your phone will make it easier for you to get help if you run into any issues on your trip.

Check your international cell coverage

While your dream vacation may include unplugging from all technology, staying connected overseas has its perks. For instance, family can reach you in case of an emergency and Google Translate will be at your fingertips. Your smartphone won’t abruptly stop working in another country, but its functionality will be limited unless you take one of these steps:

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about an international plan. Find out what your current plan allows. Some providers automatically activate calling/roaming/data features when you travel overseas, but you’ll want to know the cost ahead of time.

  • Buy or rent a local SIM card. Once you arrive at your destination, buy or rent a SIM card and install it on your phone. (You can also buy and download one online.) This will allow you to call, text, and use any other features in the country that you’re visiting. Make sure that your phone is “unlocked,” meaning that you can use it with any cellular provider.

Follow airline luggage restrictions

Every airline gets to decide their own luggage rules, from how much you’ll pay to check a suitcase to how large (and heavy) your carry-on bag is allowed to be. (Other variable factors include the size of the aircraft and the cabin class you’re sitting in.) 

Always check with your airline before you start packing. That way, you can avoid unexpected fees at the airport.

Pack wisely

There’s an art to packing when you go abroad. These tips can help you master it:

  • Keep essentials close by. Luggage goes missing — a lot. Always pack essentials (like your travel documents, medications, extra glasses, and a few days worth of clothes) in your carry-on.

  • Know your necessities. For instance, if you’re planning on walking 8 miles each day in the Moroccan desert, comfortable shoes are non-negotiable. Prone to migraines when the weather's hot and humid? It’s wise to bring your headache meds with you to Hong Kong. 

  • Stay connected. Add a universal travel adapter, portable backup charger and even a WiFI mobile hotspot to your international travel checklist.

  • Use every last little bit of space in your suitcase. For instance, space-saving bags allow you to seal items and suck out all the air, saving an astonishing amount of space. You can also find videos online that show you how to more efficiently roll, fold, position, and stack clothes in your bag.

  • Get some help. If packing is not your forte, consider using a packing checklist app. Enter specifics like your destination, when you’re traveling, and the activities you have planned, and you’ll get a list of suggested items to bring. 

Find entertainment options for travel time

If you frequently travel within the U.S., you know how to stay entertained in-flight: Download music, TV shows, or movies ahead of time so you’re not stuck watching the airline’s limited options or paying to use their WiFi. (Just remember to bring your headphones.) 

When you’re traveling internationally, you won’t be able to stream as much (or as easily) as you do from your couch at home.

For instance, Netflix and Amazon Prime only let you stream select titles in other countries. (Amazon even has a “Watch While Abroad” category.) Downloading these titles is allowed, if you have a compatible device.

You may have heard of using a VPN (virtual private network) to access your full streaming library. This clever software masks your IP address and location so streamers can’t tell that you’re in a different country. That said, streaming services frown upon VPN usage and could decide to suspend or delete your account at their discretion. You’re better off waiting until you get home before rewatching “The Boss Baby” for the fourth time.

Obtain local currency

The value of the U.S. dollar fluctuates against the currency of other countries, but where you get your foreign cash matters, too. 

Generally speaking, the best rates (and cheapest fees) are usually found at your local bank or credit union before you leave the country. Just don’t wait until you’re on your way to the airport — they may have to order it for you, which could take a day or two.

You can also buy foreign currency through an online service like Travelex, then pick it up at one of their locations. 

Don’t have time to get local money before you head out? Skip the airport kiosks. While convenient, they often have extremely high exchange rates. Instead, find an ATM affiliated with your bank. (To avoid more fees, try to take out one large amount instead of several small withdrawals.)

Before you exchange any currency, use an online currency converter so you know what a fair exchange rate is. While you want your vacation to be an adventure, you don’t want overpaying to be part of it. 

And while local cash certainly comes in hand, using your credit card can also be a great option since it often comes with the comfort of fraud protection. Try to use a no-foreign-fee debit card or a credit card that does not charge fees for foreign transactions. If you’re not sure about your cards’ terms, call your issuer for assistance.

There’s a lot of prep involved when you’re leaving the country (and your comfort zone), but don’t let that dissuade you from packing your bags. Trustworthy can help you get organized and stay connected to the information and people who are most important to you. That means you can relax and enjoy yourself, no matter where you are in the world.

Information Management

The Essential International Travel Checklist for Your Next Trip

Guy on airplane

Stephanie Booth

Jun 12, 2023

Ray Bradbury advised, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” If you’re ready to pack your bags and head out, we have the tasks you need to put on your international travel checklist.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Plan a trip abroad

  • Confirm (and keep track of) the documents you’ll need overseas 

  • Pack wisely to ensure you’re ready for any situation

Download the International Travel Checklist

Do your research

First things first. Where would you like to go? The world’s a big place, so how do you narrow it down? If you don’t have a dream destination already in mind, you can consider:

Your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend can help you narrow down the list of possibilities.

Your travel companions. Will you be traveling with young kids? Older relatives who need to have more structure (and rest time) in their day? Someone who has limited mobility? 

Your goals. Get clear on what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to relax on a beautiful beach, read, and sip tropical drinks for a week. Or maybe you like the idea of an active vacation that allows you to explore as much of a country as possible. You could also consider a more purposeful vacation and look into volunteering abroad.

Your comfort level. Part of the fun of international travel is stepping outside your comfort zone. How far out of it are you willing to go? For instance, are you ready to visit a country whose language you don’t speak? Are you excited to explore on your own, or do you like the idea of a guided tour?

Your safety. The U.S. State Department maintains up-to-date travel advisories for every country in the world. These range from Level 1 (“Exercise normal precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do not travel” due to life-threatening risks such as civil unrest, a major health issue, or natural disaster.) Check any potential destinations on their Travel Advisory and Alerts.

Still not sure where to go? Look for inspiration on social media, ask friends about their last great vacation, and browse through travel books.

Learn the visa requirements

A visa is a legal document that allows you to enter another country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a U.S. visa to go abroad, but you may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country you’re planning to visit. 

The State Department maintains a comprehensive list of visa requirements and embassy contacts. Search for your destination so you’re clear on the specific requirements. Every country is different. For instance, you don’t need a tourist visa to visit the United Kingdom if your trip will last less than six months, but you will need one to enter Indonesia.

Check your passport

Your passport doesn’t only need to be valid at the time you travel. According to the State Department, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home. (It should also have at least two blank pages.) If those requirements aren’t met, some countries may not let you enter. 

Don’t forget to check the expiration dates of your children’s passports. Passports for kids under 16 years old are only good for five years (versus 10 years for adults.).

If you need to renew a passport, do so as far in advance as possible. It may take several months to receive a new one. Sometimes waiting that long isn’t possible — perhaps your trip is due to a death in the family or an urgent business matter. (Or maybe you simply forgot that your passport expired and your flight to Reykjavík leaves next week.) 

In any of those cases, contact the National Passport Information Center. Your application can be expedited. (In  life-or-death emergencies, you can receive a new passport in as little as 3 days.)

To prevent travel snafus, keep track of multiple passports for each of your family members in Trustworthy, including expiration date reminders and country-specific renewal instructions for select countries.

Check your travel dates and make reservations

Although airlines often offer last-minute fare sales, it’s not always easy to quickly get time off work, find a sitter for your house or dog (more on that coming up), and jump on a plane. But if you plan ahead — ideally, as many as seven months ahead — you can still land some great deals on international travel. 

According to a CheapAir.com study which analyzed more than a million airfares to international destinations, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days you’re most likely to find reservations to fit your budget.

Off-season travel also results in big savings. For instance, July is the most expensive month to fly to Europe and March is the cheapest. 

Get any required immunizations

Traveling overseas can raise your risk of getting sick with diseases that aren’t common in the U.S. To stay safe, you’re required to have certain vaccines administered ahead of time. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out which specific shots are required for your planned destination. For instance, there’s currently an outbreak of yellow fever in Ghana. Proof of vaccination is required by anyone over 9 months of age to enter the country.

Other immunizations you may need before you can enter some countries range from the COVID-19 vaccine to a shot that protects you from typhoid. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor at least one month before you travel. They can confirm and administer the vaccines you need, and provide the necessary documentation you’ll need.

Line up a housesitter, petsitter, and/or childcare

If you’re planning to go abroad without your kids, figure out reliable childcare as soon as possible. Check with family members and close friends to see who’s available. The most important requirement is that your child feels comfortable with them. Even so, you may want to suggest that they stay in your home. That way, your child’s routine is less likely to be disrupted.

If you have houseplants that will need watering or a pet to be cared for, line up a trusted house and/or pet sitter.

To find them:

  • Start with word of mouth recommendations. Ask friends or family members if they can refer someone.

  • Look online. Plenty of websites can help you find potential sitters, from nonprofits like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to care.com and Rover.com.

  • Schedule a meet and greet. Just because your Uncle Larry loved a particular sitter doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for what you need. Arrange to meet them in person, so you can go over what needs to be done. (This is also a great opportunity to see how they interact with your pet.)

  • Ask questions. References will be important, but also ask about their rates, experience, and how they’d manage certain emergencies.

  • Provide instructions and emergency numbers. Make sure they’re clear on their responsibilities and who to turn to for support. Put this essential info in Trustworthy and you can grant your caregivers and sitters access. (And have peace of mind that they’ll always know where it is.) 

Make copies of important documents

Here are the documents that should be on your international travel checklist:

  • Your passport

  • Your children’s passports

  • Visa to enter a foreign country (if applicable)

  • Consent to travel with minors (if only one parent is traveling)

  • Documentation for medication: In some countries, prescription and even over-the-counter medicines in the U.S. may be illegal, so authorization from your doctor is essential. Check the embassy of the country you’ll be visiting to see what legal documentation you’ll need to carry.

  • International Driving Permit  (IDP): Some countries won’t accept a U.S. driver's license. If your destination doesn’t but you’d like to drive, you’ll need to apply for an IDP while still in the U.S.

  • Supplemental auto insurance (if needed)

The State Department recommends making two copies of these documents in case of an emergency. Leave one copy at home and take the other one with you, separate from the originals. 

Don’t forget to upload these essential docs to Trustworthy, as well. Because you have the ability to sync information instantly between your computer, phone, and tablet, you and your family can always access it.

Choose travel insurance

Hopefully you’ll never need to tap into a travel insurance policy, but it’s a worthy investment just in case. Expect to spend between 4 to 10 percent of your trip’s total cost, and in return, you’ll get benefits that can include:

  • Baggage loss

  • Trip cancellation and delay coverage

  • Trip interruption coverage (due to illness or injury)

  • Medical expenses

  • Emergency evacuation benefits

Pro-tip: Contact your credit card companies. Travel insurance is often a built-in benefit to card holders, and at no added cost. (The caveat is that you must book the trip on that specific card.)

Notify your credit card company

Card companies are always on high alert for fraud. Without your heads up that you’ll be traveling overseas, your card could get frozen at an inopportune time. (Like when you’re just about to pay for that gondola ride in Venice.)

Check your card issuer’s website to learn how to set up a travel notice. Be ready to provide the dates you'll be traveling and the countries you’ll be visiting. (That includes any countries in which you have a flight layover.) And if you haven’t done so already, download your cards’ mobile apps. Having them on your phone will make it easier for you to get help if you run into any issues on your trip.

Check your international cell coverage

While your dream vacation may include unplugging from all technology, staying connected overseas has its perks. For instance, family can reach you in case of an emergency and Google Translate will be at your fingertips. Your smartphone won’t abruptly stop working in another country, but its functionality will be limited unless you take one of these steps:

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about an international plan. Find out what your current plan allows. Some providers automatically activate calling/roaming/data features when you travel overseas, but you’ll want to know the cost ahead of time.

  • Buy or rent a local SIM card. Once you arrive at your destination, buy or rent a SIM card and install it on your phone. (You can also buy and download one online.) This will allow you to call, text, and use any other features in the country that you’re visiting. Make sure that your phone is “unlocked,” meaning that you can use it with any cellular provider.

Follow airline luggage restrictions

Every airline gets to decide their own luggage rules, from how much you’ll pay to check a suitcase to how large (and heavy) your carry-on bag is allowed to be. (Other variable factors include the size of the aircraft and the cabin class you’re sitting in.) 

Always check with your airline before you start packing. That way, you can avoid unexpected fees at the airport.

Pack wisely

There’s an art to packing when you go abroad. These tips can help you master it:

  • Keep essentials close by. Luggage goes missing — a lot. Always pack essentials (like your travel documents, medications, extra glasses, and a few days worth of clothes) in your carry-on.

  • Know your necessities. For instance, if you’re planning on walking 8 miles each day in the Moroccan desert, comfortable shoes are non-negotiable. Prone to migraines when the weather's hot and humid? It’s wise to bring your headache meds with you to Hong Kong. 

  • Stay connected. Add a universal travel adapter, portable backup charger and even a WiFI mobile hotspot to your international travel checklist.

  • Use every last little bit of space in your suitcase. For instance, space-saving bags allow you to seal items and suck out all the air, saving an astonishing amount of space. You can also find videos online that show you how to more efficiently roll, fold, position, and stack clothes in your bag.

  • Get some help. If packing is not your forte, consider using a packing checklist app. Enter specifics like your destination, when you’re traveling, and the activities you have planned, and you’ll get a list of suggested items to bring. 

Find entertainment options for travel time

If you frequently travel within the U.S., you know how to stay entertained in-flight: Download music, TV shows, or movies ahead of time so you’re not stuck watching the airline’s limited options or paying to use their WiFi. (Just remember to bring your headphones.) 

When you’re traveling internationally, you won’t be able to stream as much (or as easily) as you do from your couch at home.

For instance, Netflix and Amazon Prime only let you stream select titles in other countries. (Amazon even has a “Watch While Abroad” category.) Downloading these titles is allowed, if you have a compatible device.

You may have heard of using a VPN (virtual private network) to access your full streaming library. This clever software masks your IP address and location so streamers can’t tell that you’re in a different country. That said, streaming services frown upon VPN usage and could decide to suspend or delete your account at their discretion. You’re better off waiting until you get home before rewatching “The Boss Baby” for the fourth time.

Obtain local currency

The value of the U.S. dollar fluctuates against the currency of other countries, but where you get your foreign cash matters, too. 

Generally speaking, the best rates (and cheapest fees) are usually found at your local bank or credit union before you leave the country. Just don’t wait until you’re on your way to the airport — they may have to order it for you, which could take a day or two.

You can also buy foreign currency through an online service like Travelex, then pick it up at one of their locations. 

Don’t have time to get local money before you head out? Skip the airport kiosks. While convenient, they often have extremely high exchange rates. Instead, find an ATM affiliated with your bank. (To avoid more fees, try to take out one large amount instead of several small withdrawals.)

Before you exchange any currency, use an online currency converter so you know what a fair exchange rate is. While you want your vacation to be an adventure, you don’t want overpaying to be part of it. 

And while local cash certainly comes in hand, using your credit card can also be a great option since it often comes with the comfort of fraud protection. Try to use a no-foreign-fee debit card or a credit card that does not charge fees for foreign transactions. If you’re not sure about your cards’ terms, call your issuer for assistance.

There’s a lot of prep involved when you’re leaving the country (and your comfort zone), but don’t let that dissuade you from packing your bags. Trustworthy can help you get organized and stay connected to the information and people who are most important to you. That means you can relax and enjoy yourself, no matter where you are in the world.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

No credit card required.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

No credit card required.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

No credit card required.

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