International Travel Packing List
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Some of the essential travel items to have with you
After traveling for a few years, there have been many times where Whitney and I have found ourselves in a place without an essential traveling item to accompany us. Learning from those experiences, we have compiled a sure fit list of travel gear and items for our international trips, that can surely come in handy.
One prime example of an item added to the list, is a pen. Sounds small, but it can actually save you some time. Almost always, when traveling internationally and when returning to the states, you will be asked to fill out custom paperwork or some kind of a declaration form. Usually, pens are scarce onboard, or flight attendants may decide to release the documents to you onboard close to approaching your destination, which leaves you even less time to borrow a pen and fill out your paperwork. This then forces you to find one in the airport and causes you to have to wait to get in line to process through customs. Sounds pretty trivial, but a simple pen can shave time off of your entry to some countries. Don’t take the chance, just pack a PEN!!!
Trusty sidekick... a good ole pen
Why does this matter? Ultimately, when we travel, our main goal is to minimize as much time as possible in the airport and get on to our destination as quickly as possible, to enjoy more of the city we are embarking on. We have deemed the following items essential for our baseline international travel requirements and have separated them by the portion of the trip they would come in handy. This standard list is usually expanded or lessened, depending upon the destination.
Phase 1 - Pack and plan for Pre-Trip
When traveling abroad, the excitement of leaving the country can sometimes distract you from preparing all the required items for the destination you are visiting. One thing to remember and keep in mind when you travel abroad, is the fact that you will be in someone else’s country. Try to familiarize yourself with some customs and courtesies before you get there. We make it a point to do so, and in turn, this gesture of respect has broken down barriers In every country we’ve visited thus far and have warmed the locals up to us for putting in an effort.
Currency converter app (we use Xcurrency)
Destination transportation app (If applicable - ex: New York City and London both have a subway app with the maps of the different train routes)
Cash on hand – Subjective – but, we have settled on $200 as a good amount for us.
Research if a visa is required for entry. We use the Department of State's website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html
Major credit/debit card with 0% Foreign Transaction fees
Print out or screenshot translations of “Hello”, “Thank You” “ Do you speak English” and “ How do you say [insert word or phrase] in English” in the native language of the area you are about to visit.
Print out of all itineraries and reservations
Pre-position your passport in a place or travel bag before your day of travel, so you will not forget them (we put ours in the top hideaway pocket of our travel bags).
A cash reserve can on hand can help you through some tough traveling situations.
Xcurrency converter app
Personal Story: We have now made it a point to always have some cash on hand, even if we don’t get to use it. After one of our adventures abroad, we embarked on our journey back to the states. While flying our first leg, we had to stop in an airport in China to change aircraft and continue on to California. While there, we had to proceed through customs and wait in a boarding area, away from the main airport terminals. Once in place and waiting, there were very scarce food options and a small convenience store. Extremely hungry, we tried to purchase food at all of the restaurants. To our surprise, this particular section did not take any of the major credit cards or debit cards we had handy. Only having roughly $3 in cash, my wife and I were able to share a small can of cheddar cheese pringles....and we don't even like the cheddar kind haha. That hunger was real, as we watched everyone around us eat and snack on some stuff they had just bought. I still think they were eating in out face on purpose... nah, just kidding lol. Simply put, bring cash, just in case!
Travel Tip: Always contact your financial institutions about your plans of travel to ensure you are not stuck on vacation with frozen cards and accounts.
Phase 2 - On-flight essentials
On flight essentials are key to ensuring a comfortable experience while traveling to your long-haul destination. We are not all fortunate enough to fly first or business class, where passengers are accommodated and made more comfortable… so, that responsibility becomes your own.
Book – we normally take audio and physical books with us
Comfortable pants (sweatpants) – I actually own a pair of travel sweatpants I religiously wear for flights
Slip on shoes – Your feet will swell on long flights.. loose fitting shoes go on and off easily
Additional charger pack cellphone
Water Bottle - You can fill up your bottle post airport security
Downloaded movies, just in case - We normally pull a few movies from Netflix and download them via their app
Charge your phone even when you're not close to a power outlet
Travel Tip: Screenshot all of your itineraries, documents and reservations. Do not assume you will always have access to Wi-Fi to retrieve reservations and documents, when you reach your location
Phase 3 - On-site location
When you arrive to the international destination, there will be a few items that will prove useful for your stay.
Small backpack/satchel – to store items you may buy while exploring your destination
Electric converters and adapters
Travel size first aid Kit
Shopping plastic bags / packing squares – used for various things
Zip lock bags – comes in handy for random small items
School ID - If applicable. Some destinations offer discounts or free entry to students.
A business card from the hotel - comes in handy in locations where there is a language barrier. If out and about, you can simply show the cab driver the card to get back.
Time and time again, this list has surely helped us on our many adventures. It continually grew larger as we begin to travel more and notice some things were missing. Hopefully this travel list will come in handy for you as well. Happy and safe travels! Enjoy.