Travel Abroad Checklist: 8 Documents You Need
Have these with you to keep your dream vacation from turning into a nightmare
You’ve finally booked the vacation of a lifetime and you’re counting down the weeks to departure. But smart packing for an overseas trip involves more than making sure to have sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen and an adapter plug.
To avoid trouble at the border or during your trip, arm yourself with these eight documents before you hop that flight.
1. A hard copy of your itinerary. It’s easy to forget the details of a trip — hotel addresses, train times, plane connections — while enjoying your vacation, so have more than one copy of your itinerary with you. Airlines recommend you keep a copy inside each suitcase to make it easier for them to return your luggage if it does not arrive with your flight.
2. Your passport and a copy of the two personal information pages. The latter will make it much easier to get a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Check your passport’s expiration date at least six weeks ahead of your trip in case you need a new one. Some countries will deny entry unless you have at least six months remaining on your passport.
3. Your driver’s license and a copy of it. Check your license a few weeks before you depart to make sure it hasn’t expired. (We recently traveled with someone who mistakenly brought her expired license rather than her new one. She was not allowed to pick up her rental car.) Also, contact your state’s Registry or Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the procedure for replacing a lost or stolen driver’s license before you leave. Make a copy of your license and take it with you, keeping it separate from your actual license. Having a copy of the original information makes for a smoother process. Be aware that getting a replacement can take time.
4. A list of your medications. Include generic names and dosages for each prescription in case you lose yours or need more because of an unanticipated delay. If you have a travel companion, be sure he or she has a copy.
5. More than one credit card and copies of each card. Make a copy of the credit cards you’re taking with you — especially the backs of the cards with the security code and the company’s contact information. Keep these separate from the credit cards themselves. Bring more than one credit card and keep them in separate places in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
6. Phone numbers for taxi companies or shuttle companies to get you from airport to hotel. How will you get to your hotel from the airport? Will you catch a bus or hail a cab? Is there a shuttle to your hotel? These decisions are best made before your trip, rather than when you land jet-lagged in a foreign city. Research the transportation options and where to find them in airports or train stations to which you will be traveling. Type up and print out a plan, including phone numbers for taxi companies or shuttle companies.
7. Your hotel confirmation numbers and a map. Print out reservation confirmations with addresses, maps and directions. Your printed copy of your hotel’s location makes for an easier, and often less costly, taxi ride, particularly when language is an issue.
8. Your health insurance card. Make two copies and give one to your traveling companion. Check with the company in advance to see what is covered when traveling abroad. Medicare, for example, does not cover anything outside the United States. You may wish to purchase travel insurance that includes medical coverage.
Even for people who prefer to go paperless, having hard copies of some of this information can be invaluable. Emailing yourself copies of these documents or using Google Drive or Dropbox to store the ones you share with friends or family is efficient, but you may not have an Internet connection at the moment you need one.