travel planning

5 Essentials for International Travel

You’re excited for your trip! You’re ready to take it all on! You’re looking forward to the experiences you’ll have and the foods you’ll try. You bought cute new clothes and you hope those new shoes will be worn in by the time you leave.

And then you start to panic. Even the most experienced traveler has something they’re nervous about before they go for a trip–am I forgetting something? What time is my flight? How long is my layover? I need to check on that again! But never fear: your ultimate checklist is here. There are tons of things to remember, but if you’ve got just these five, you can make it anywhere in the world!

Sunrise peeking past the wing on my flight
from Japan to Chicago!


This is at the top of the list for a good reason! You literally cannot travel without your passport. Make sure it’s current, and that you have at least six months’ validity before you travel. Keep it easily accessible to you while going through the airport, but not easily accessible when out in public! Here’s what to do if you lose your passport!

Love this passport cover—it has tons of pockets inside!
Read on: Your Ultimate Guide to Passports

Visa (if applicable)

Did you get your visa? Do you need a visa? It all depends on where you’re from and where you’re going and how long you’ll be there… It can get complicated! But if you need it, you need it. It’s nice to be able to get a visa on arrival when you land at your destination, but rules can change quickly, so just check again before your trip to make sure you have the latest information. Check out How to Get an Impossible Visa if all hope seems lost!

One place Americans need to get a visa in advance: Vietnam!
Read on: How to Get a Tourist Visa

Phone and Charger

Have you ever forgotten your phone in a cab or Uber? At your hotel? At the security checkpoint? It happens to the best of us! But losing your phone before or during travel can be devastating, especially if all your plans are on your phone. It’s good to have hardcopy backups, but it’s best if you can simply remember your phone and its charger! And keep it safe from falls and water with a heavy-duty case.

Lifeproof iPhone X Case
Read on: Top 10 Packing Hacks


One thing I am always glad I remember on international travel: an outlet adaptor. It’s such a small thing that really makes a world of difference! Sometimes your hotel or other accommodation will have adaptors on-hand, but not always. It’s such an easy thing to toss into your bag, so don’t leave the country without it!

Read on: What Minimalist Packers Leave Behind

Good Luggage

You won’t get very far on cheap, broken, or forgotten luggage. You just won’t! Personally, I recommend going carry-on only whenever possible. Backpacks are efficient and ergonomic these days, and I love them especially since they leave my hands free while I’m toting my luggage. I’m always juggling my passport, phone, coffee, and more while rushing through the airport!

My preferred travel backpack: the Osprey Porter.

That said, I understand that some people have physical limitations that require a rollaboard style of luggage, and others simply prefer them! If this is your preference, make sure it’s good quality and that it’s not a smart bag–you’ll have to take out the battery before boarding the plane anyway, so it’s a waste of money until that rule changes!

Highly rated rollaboard luggage.
Read on: Packing Strategy: Luggage

Need more? Check out all my packing lists, tips, and hacks on my Packing Page!

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