So you’re about to go on an adventure and want to be sure that you’re prepared to avoid situations where you get to the airport needing a Visa for a certain country but haven’t arranged one or worse, forgot your passport all together. I’ve almost mastered the art of putting together checklists of what I need on my trips and have put together what I hope you will find useful. Here is my ultimate travel checklist on what you need to do before you travel.
The Comprehensive Travel Checklist
Create a Rough Plan
I’ve always admired those travellers who are able to just pack a bag and go without having any sort of plan in mind. Whilst it’s great to remain flexible, it’s always wise to at least have the first few days planned or at the very least have your accommodation sorted. I can’t think of anything worse then coming off a 20+ hour travel commute only to be searching around for a place to crash. If you haven’t figured this out about me yet then going through this checklist will clue you in – I’m a planner.
Check Your Passport & Visa Requirements
I’ve heard so many stories from acquaintances that have literally checked their passport expiry date a week before travelling only to realize that it expires in two weeks time. Most countries will require at least six months validity on your passport and most airlines won’t even allow you to board a flight if you don’t meet this requirement. So make this an important one on your travel checklist.
Also check if you need to arrange Visas and how long the process takes because some embassies will require that you leave your passport with them for a week or two whilst they process your Visa application.
Consider Which Months to Travel
Weather is a huge factor and whether it’s a holiday period should also determine whether you should travel during these times. Travelling in peak periods will mean expensive flights, expensive accommodation and huge crowds so I always suggest travelling either just before these seasons or just after.
Buy Travel Insurance
I always wonder why people think they can go travelling without having travel insurance because no one can ever guarantee that nothing will go wrong. It’s something we need to have but hope we’ll never use. In the event that we do have to use it – it’s a small price to pay because what the policies cover will make it all worth it. I’ll highlight the importance of having travel insurance in a separate post and share with you my experiences.
Photocopy Important Documents
In the event that you lose your passport or identity documents, you will need to provide some sort of evidence to your embassy when you apply for new official documents. We never plan to lose our passport but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for it. It also means when certain vendors request to keep your passport then you can provide them with a copy because under no circumstances should you ever leave anyone with your passport.
If you also plan to drive when you’re overseas then make sure you arrange for an international license. Whilst rental places don’t check your license, the police sure do and you don’t want to get caught out with a lofty fine.
Print Your Itinerary & Confirmations
Whilst having all your confirmation emails in a special folder in your inbox is convenient you may not always have adequate access to WiFi when you’re travelling. Having printouts will mean that you can easily show taxi drivers your hotel address or reception staff your booking confirmation if there has been any mistake made.
Plan How to Get to the Hotel
If you find yourself landing in a new and unfamiliar country in the middle of the night and public transport is sketchy then you’ll want to have a plan in place on how to get to your accommodation safely. Check if your hotel can arrange for a pick-up or if there is a shuttle from the airport. You can also check taxi prices in forums of how much it typically costs to get into town so that opportunistic cabbies don’t rip you off.
Call Your Bank & Credit Card Provider
If you’ve got yourself an overly cautious bank that freezes your accounts on a regularly basis if you make a purchase that is slightly out of the predicted patterns then you will want to call them before you travel. Kudos to them for doing their jobs properly but you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re stranded in a foreign country with no way to access your money. The same goes for your credit card providers.
Bring Adapters & Check Your Devices
These days we all travel with smartphones, tablets/laptops, cameras, drones, hard drives and many other electronic devices so you want to make sure you’ve got converters to be able to charge them up. I like to also purchase portable charge packs in case you can’t find a power outlet and need to use your phone for directions and what not. If you’re also a technology crazed nerd like myself then bringing a power board makes your life so much easier – and its worth sacrificing the luggage space for.
If you plan on travelling to Africa or South America you will more than likely have a shopping list of vaccinations that you’re required to receive before leaving so make sure you plan this weeks before you depart. They’re also not cheap so don’t get caught out!
Bring Basic Over the Counter Medications
Always be prepared – you never know when you might need it. Some countries may sell things like Panadol and Nurofen but you have no way of knowing how legitimate these products are. You’ve probably read many stories in the news about travellers tragically passing away from taking fake medication that they bought in third world countries to treat something as simple as a headache or hangover.
Mobile Phone Accessibility
If you’ve got a mobile phone with international roaming packages then check if they are compatible with the country you’re travelling to. If not, research where you can purchase a temporary prepaid SIM on arrival so that you’re not stuck without phone access.
Purchase Tickets Early for Popular Tourist Sites
The best advice I can give anyone because I’ve seen people line up for hours (literally) to purchase tickets for places like the Eiffel Tower and then having to wait in line again to actually get into the attraction. Whilst you pay more for these tickets, you’ll be saving yourself hours of your precious exploration time and to me – that is priceless. If you purchase these early enough, you may even receive an early bird discount.
Research & Familiarize Yourself of Local Scams
Each country will have their own scams that are prevalent and if you plan on doing country hopping then make sure you read up on each one. Don’t be a victim!
Read Up on Local Culture & Customs
If you find yourself travelling to religious areas then you may want to read up on what attire is deemed appropriate to avoid glares and verbal abuse from offended locals. For example, this was incredibly important when we travelling to Morocco and I wrote all about this in my post on what you should know before travelling to Marrakech. It’s also good to familiarize yourself on local etiquette and what is considered rude in certain cultures to avoid inadvertently offending anyone.
Carry Some Cash
Some countries will require that you pay a fee upon entering a country and whilst there are plenty of ATMs on the other side of customs, there are rarely any positioned before it. So carrying currency that is widely accepted (US dollars) will come in handy. We were caught out when we arrived in Vietnam and Chris had to be escorted out and back in to pay the fee. Another one that’s important for the travel checklist because we learnt this the hard way.
Check Luggage Allowances
This should be done for all flights you take on your trip. Especially the short-haul domestic flights because these will generally have smaller allowances. You don’t want to get caught out and end up paying for this because that’s one surefire way of blowing your holiday budget before even starting it!
Check What is Prohibited in Each Country
We were quite lucky that we did our research before travelling to Morocco because it turns out; they are not a drone friendly country. We brought a filming gimbal for our camera and the brand was Pilot Fly and the amount of times we were pulled aside and questioned whether it was a drone was ridiculous. Our tour guide told us that most drones get confiscated at the airport so thank god we didn’t bring ours with us on this trip!
Read Up on Any Travel Warnings for a Country
This is crucial to research if you are planning a trip to a country that is in turmoil and political uncertainty. If any major events have occurred then you will need to familiarize yourself with what you need to do in the event of an emergency. Or if a country is experiencing a pandemic disease outbreak then you may want to reconsider travelling as you may have difficulty returning home depending on how strict your country’s quarantine laws are.
If you’re adamant about travelling to any high-risk countries then consider registering yourself with your embassy there so that they are aware and can contact you should they need to.
So there you have it, everything you need to add to your travel checklist before you embark on our next adventure. I even took the liberty of making a pretty travel checklist for you to save for later and trust me, you’ll thank me later for it. My next adventure will be down the stairs to my kitchen in search of sweets #pregnantproblems so enjoy planning your next trip guys! Totally jealous!
Tell me what’s on your travel checklist that’s not on mine!
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