When it comes to traveling, preparation is key. This goes double if you’re traveling internationally, where turning back to grab something you forgot is basically impossible. Nobody wants to find that they’ve gotten all the way to the luggage storage in Brussels Midi and they’re missing something important.
Here are the top six things you need to make sure you have with you before leaving on an international trip.
Your Passport (and Other Documentation)
When traveling abroad the big thing people think about is their passport, and you absolutely need to make sure you have it on you when you leave; you won’t get very far without it after all.
But this also covers a wide range of other important documents everyone should bring with them. Travel insurance papers, any medical documentation (like your vaccination status), credit and debit cards, and as many forms of identification as you can muster, from a copy of your birth certificate to your driver’s license.
If possible, make and keep copies of all of these things to put in different luggage bags in case one bag gets lost or stolen.
These days, everybody has essential electronics, even if it’s just their phone and charger. Make sure you have all of them packed before leaving, and bring as much with you as you think you’ll need. Maybe you use your e-reader a ton at home, and maybe you don’t: either way, it’s probably better to have it and not need it than vice versa.
But more importantly, all of these electronics need to be charged. Triple check all your charging cables are packed before leaving, and even pack a few extras if you have them or can buy them on the cheap. It will be a lot cheaper to bring them with you than to buy them after you arrive.
Also keep in mind that European power outlets, for example, are different than ones in the US. You’ll need specific adapters to hook your devices into the local plugs.
Daily Care and Toiletries
Whether it’s a preferred brand of shampoo or a favorite hairbrush, you should make sure to bring anything that’s crucial to your daily routine – unless you’re really worried about losing it.
While staying at a hotel will usually ensure you have the basics, they’re not always the highest quality, or may not suit your specific needs. If you require a heavy duty dandruff shampoo or have a special medicated toothpaste you use, your hotel isn’t going to have that available.
And you shouldn’t assume you can buy the exact same thing overseas from the local shops, either. Not only do popular brands change internationally, the same brand and product on the surface could have a very different formula due to local laws.
It’s better to bring everything non-negotiable with you so you don’t spend your trip miserable.
Clothes are a no-brainer, and everyone will bring some. But it’s worth taking special note of whether you have the right kind of clothes, or the right amount. Depending on how long your stay abroad is, you might be able to get away with packing light, but for long stays you might practically have to bring your whole wardrobe.
This goes double if you’re going to be crossing a lot of country lines over the course of your trip. Not only does staying on the move make washing your clothes trickier…it also means you might have to deal with wildly varying weather patterns as one country gets cold (or hot!) faster than another.
Pack a variety of clothes for all sorts of weather, and make sure to have a plan for when things change suddenly.
If you take a daily medication, you’re not going to suddenly stop needing it just because you’re away from home. And if you’re going on a long flight, there’s a strong chance you’ll need to take a dose while the flight is in progress as well.
Bring enough to last your entire trip, and maybe a bit extra; it’s always possible you could have to stay longer or end up dropping a pill along the way.
A “Ready Bag”
So, you’ve arrived at your destination with all of your luggage…are you going to carry it around the whole time? Of course not! You stow most of this stuff at the hotel.
So make sure you’ve packed a lightweight bag you can fill with everything you might need while exploring your new locale. Water, a few snacks, light entertainment (like a book), a camera, and anything else you feel like you might need at a moment’s notice.
This will vary from person to person, or even from day to day, but it’s a non-negotiable aspect of traveling that you have some way to keep your most important or useful items close at hand at all times.