International travel checklist: What to pack for your trip abroad

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If you’re going on a trip abroad, you probably feel like there’s so much to do, but so little time. Bags must be packed and it can be more than a little inconvenient if you accidentally leave something behind at home. That’s why it’s good to have an international travel checklist.

What to pack: Your international travel checklist 

So what will you pack? Your checklist should be broad enough to cover the essentials, but detailed enough to include some of the things we may forget in the rush of the moment. Of course, your destination and how long you will be away from home also play a part in dictating what you need to take with you.

RELATED: 18 things you forget on your vacation packing list

Choose the right kind of bag

First things first, you’ll want to choose luggage that can handle your journey. Generally, you’ll want something sturdy, with enough room and pockets to hold some of your smaller items. Wherever you’re planning to go, pick luggage that is versatile, lightweight and big enough to hold all your essentials.

Know the liquid laws

Most countries prohibit or limit the size of containers with liquids, gels, aerosols and pastes (including the empty containers) during security check-in, according to Delta Air Lines. If you can avoid it, it’s best not to bring any liquids, gels or creams.

Extra batteries

You may get all the way to where you’re going and realize that the battery on your electronic device may not make it. Pack any spare lithium batteries for laptops, cellphones, etc. in your carry-on luggage only.

Here is your International Travel Checklist

Your international travel checklist: Things you should pack

Your international travel checklist: Things you should pack

  • Checklist: Have your packing list in hand or on your phone
  • Backpack/bag: If possible, use one that is the same size as the allowable carry-on size.


  • Clothing: Choose versatile garments that can be worn for different activities. If you’re going to cold weather, instead of a bulky jacket, pack a wool sweater, which is lightweight but effective. For warmer climes, sandals and a couple of bikinis or shorts shouldn’t take up much space at all.

Packing hack: Use rubber bands to tie up your underwear. It will save room for other items.

  • Shoes: Try to limit to two pairs only, if you can. Make sure they’re comfortable and versatile.

Packing hack: Utilize the space inside your shoes for socks, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids or small electronics that you don’t want to lose.

  • Camera: Even if you have a nice camera, ask yourself if your cell phone-quality pics are enough. Not lugging an expensive piece of equipment can make a world of difference. If you do decide to take the camera , store it in the middle of your carry-on.
  • Toiletry bag: Just one, and it should have most or all of these essentials: razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, lip balm, contact lens (plus case and solution), mini-mirror, deodorant, hairbrush or comb, bobby pins, sunscreen, lotion and any other personal hygiene products.
  • Medications: Have all of your prescription medications in one bag with the label/scripts on the outside. That way Customs or other officials won’t have to open it to see the contents.


  • Electronics: Your mobile phone, headphones and laptop should all be able to fit inside a small bag. Instead of bringing travel guidebooks, see if you can download them onto your electronic device. That way you can access them without the internet.
  • Empty water bottle: This will be super-useful once you pass the security checkpoint in the airport, as well as on your journey.
  • Personal contacts: Have a paper copy of any personal contacts, especially in case of an emergency. Also jot down important addresses. Got it all on paper? Now take a picture of it to store on your phone.


  • Passport: Make sure your passport is not expired or close to its expiration date.
  • Photo copy of your ID: Take a picture of all your identification (and credit cards) with your cellphone. Of course, your mobile phone should always be locked via passcode.


  • Plane, train & automobile tickets: Keep all your transportation paperwork (plane tickets, bus tickets, etc.) in one place.
  • Have extra copies of your tickets: If they’re not already in your email inbox, take a picture of all your transportation paperwork with your cellphone. This may cut down on the amount of papers you need to keep on your person.


You may not want to bring your wallet with you everywhere, so you’ll need to come up with a plan.

  • Money belt: These are safely positioned in the front of your body to ward off theft.
  • Money clip: Based on the design, some of these can be pretty clandestine.
  • Hide it in your shoe or bra: On a day trip, you may decide to be hands-free and stash a few bills where no one can get them.

Check your passport’s expiration date

Make sure your travel documents are in order before leaving the United States, that includes making sure your passport is not expired or even close to it. If you’re traveling out of the country but your passport is set to expire before you’re scheduled to return to the States — or even in a given period after you’re scheduled to return — you may not be permitted to fly.

Opt for Mobile Passport for a smoother return to the U.S. at many major international airports.

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