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Overseas Travel Tips: Learn How to Prepare for Your International Trip to Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

Updated on March 27, 2008

If you ever traveled overseas, you know international travel is not the same as national travel. There is a lot more to think about in preparing for one of these trips: form passports, to luggage, travel insurance and language, it's a completely new ballgame.

Since my roots are in Europe, and I still have family there, I often travel overseas, and I've had a few mishaps in my journeys. If overseas voyage is in your future, read on to prepare yourself for a great traveling experience.

Passport Information

As soon as you decide to travel internationally, you need to get a passport. In the US is usually takes about 4 weeks to get a new passport, or if you pay for expedited delivery you could get it a little sooner.

If you already have a passport, check the expiration date immediately, so you can renew it on time if you need to. I am speaking from experience here: our daughter had a passport, but we failed to check the expiration date, and it took us (both my husband and I) 2 full days to solve the problem.

Apply for Travel Visas

Check to see if you need to get a travel visa. Many times it's possible to get a visa on arrival to your destination, at the airport. But other times you need to apply and receive your travel visa before you leave.

As an example, our family is planning a trip to Australia this summer, and we all need travel visas.

Age is also important when applying for a visa. If you are over a certain age, you may need a medical release, X-rays, and travel insurance. These take time to acquire, so start early.

A very good place for Travel insurance, is

Learn How to Pack Efficiently

Make a List With What You Need

This is very important: make this list early on, so you can add as the time gets closer. You want to take everything you will absolutely need, but you don't want o pack dead weight.

Here is how I go about my list: I start with my head and go down each portion of my body, and write down what I need for each section. This way, I am pretty much assured I'll remember waaht I need. Of course, there are miscelaneous items I can's associate with body parts, but it's a good method.

Here is a list of basic things you can add to, or subtract:

  • hair accessories (this includes, but is not limited to shampoo & conditioner, brush, clips, hair spray, etc.)
  • dental hygiene (toothbrush, toothpaste, flossing, etc.)
  • makeup
  • teeshirts, blouses, shirts, etc.
  • pants, skirts, sweats, etc.
  • sweaters
  • underwear
  • socks
  • shoes, sandals, boots, etc (depending when and where you go)
  • pajamas
  • swimsuit
  • medicine
  • perfume, lotions, etc. (if possible, get trial sized of your favorites)

Healthy Snack for Your Trip

How To Pack Everything For Your Vacation Into a Carry-on

Carry On Luggage Packing Tips


Your carry on luggage plays a very important part of your trip, so make sure you pack it smart.

You may not think it necessary, but pack a change of clothes in your carry on luggage: many times luggage gets lost, and it's sure nice to have a clean change of clothes to change into when you get to your destination. I speak from experience again, as my luggage got lost/delayed in about 30% of my trips.

Other things to pack in your carry on are:

  • medicine you need to take during your travel time
  • moistened towelettes: these will come in handy if something spills, for a quick way to freshen up, or to disinfect your hands periodically while travelling
  • a book to read: on longer trips, reading will help you pass the time faster
  • Sudoku, crossword puzzles, etc.
  • a trial sized hand lotion
  • a small snack: it's always good to have a little something to munch on, in case you get delayed, or just feel like snacking
  • breath fresheners: mints, gum, etc. Always nice to have

Of course, there are things you shouldn't pack in your carry on luggage, or you risk having to leave them behind. Here are a few examples:

  • sharp objects with a blade longer than 4"
  • beverages from home larger than 3oz.
  • flammable items
  • heavy tools
  • sports bats

In Conclusion

With a little bit of planning, you can be sure of smooth and enjoyable international travel. If you've traveled abroad, please add your suggestions in the comments below. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Bon Voyage!


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    • profile image

      JaneSmith24 4 years ago

      Great article! Here is a decent advice. Purchase some special SIM for travelling. It will help to save money on roaming and data. It can be any - local or prepaid Travelsim card, just keep it with you.

    • profile image

      -------- 4 years ago

      RIP --------

    • profile image

      SRINIVAS 6 years ago

      Amazing..Thanks for the International Travelling TIPS!!

    • travel-O-grapher profile image

      travel-O-grapher 6 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      some really good information about international travelling! thanks!

    • profile image

      sp13 6 years ago

      call your cellphone company as well. BUT you must call to set up to be able to make international call. My company allows me to do set up international calling for free if I want to pay $1.29 per min or I can select a plan.

    • profile image

      ytbdiva 6 years ago

      Great tips, thanks for sharing! I just received a great tip from a friend to share with you. Most phone carriers can now unlock some cell phobes for use in foreign countries. Once you get there you purchase a local SIM card, call/data credits and you should be up and running. Some carriers even sell international calling plans. Call your carrier to see if your phone can be unlocked and used internationally. Safe travels.

    • profile image

      Ourania 6 years ago

      Adriana, What a useful site. Thank you for so much up-to-date information. We last travelled OS in 1982 after having travelled a few times, prior to that. I have bookmarked this page to refer to again before we travel.

    • profile image

      giovani21 6 years ago

      Great hub,congratulations! very useful all the above tips of travelling,better than my doctor's tips!

    • profile image

      nick 6 years ago

      Amazing tips! Very useful to me because im planning to visit usa soon,thanks

    • Edwin Chan profile image

      Edwin Chan 7 years ago from New Zealand

      These are some great tips on traveling. Having extra things for down time is certainly key, such as a book or a deck of cards.

    • profile image

      shaz 7 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. Going overseas sept. Having never travelled overseas before I'm a bit lost in what to take. The list is most helpful.


    • profile image

      daycee 7 years ago

      I don't know if hotels have changed since it's been a while since I traveled overseas, but some hotels do not have washcloths in the bathrooms unlike our hotels I usually pack some with me (you can buy a dozen for maybe $2-$3) and just throw them away after each use. Also pack a small bottle of liquid soap or those travel laundry detergent if you have to wash some items.

    • profile image

      Taylor 8 years ago

      This is a good site full of helpful hints! I have travelled to Thailand before but that was easy to pack for. I'm now travelling to UK, Europe & America this Summer and im abit of an un-organised packer. Thanks for all your tips, which has made it way easier for me!.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I spent a summer in Dublin Ireland and Wales; Later I moved to England for a year. Your HUB is very nice and helpful. One of the things that bothered me the most was that my hand hair dryer didn't fit into the sockets in other countries; I needed a converter.

    • profile image

      scheng1 8 years ago

      Actually the remote the area, the more preparation. I didn't prepare so much for trips to Europe, but the preparation for travelling to China nearly killed me.

    • profile image

      Shirley 8 years ago

      I've never flown by myself and am anxious about making a

      connecting flight at Heathrow in London. Coming from the

      states is it possible to know what terminal you will arrive

      at and which one you will be departing from before I leave

      on the trip?

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 8 years ago

      This is great information for the newbie traveler to know what to expect. Thanks for sharing the list of things to prepare for an overseas trip.

    • mattylll profile image

      mattylll 8 years ago

      Great information, thanks.

      If you are travelling please checkout my information of foreign currency and holiday money. Some advice and information to help you get the best deal!

    • hypnosis4u2 profile image

      hypnosis4u2 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      One thing I've found useful if traveling overseas is to call your credit card company and tell them your going to be using the card in whatever countries you're visiting on the dates you expect to be there.

      I had a situation once where I was visiting Europe and they denied my card use and I had to get my husband to phone the card company to allow use for rest of vacation. They look at international use of your card as unusual activity and potentially fraudelent.

      A quick call to the 1-800 customer service number to tell them your plans is usally enough to ensure this embarrassment doesn't happen as they'll put a note on your file.

      But be sure to tell them the dates you'll be back so any activity after that will be captured and reviewed.

    • hafeezrm profile image

      hafeezrm 9 years ago from Pakistan

      Great article. But, according to Parkinson, if any thing can go wrong it will. I am crazy about travel as I go each year on a month long safari. Often, on return I feel that this has been a successful tour, thank God. But soon I realize that there has been some mistake. Last June while coming back from Chile, I was in transit at Heathrow London. When I looked for connecting flight, I realized that the flight was for the next day and I had to stay overnight at the airport. Luckily, the staff was very cooperative and they put me to Dubai Flight which allows visa-on-arrival. On reaching Dubai, I was immediately given a seat to Karachi. This is small but sometime serious complication arise for not going methodologically as your article. Of course, I would try to be more careful but every time a new problem crops up

    • Adriana C. profile image

      Adriana C. 9 years ago

      Francis, I actually suggested which I used for my paretns when we traveled.

    • FrancisMurray profile image

      FrancisMurray 9 years ago from Vermont

      Great hub, nice list of things to do for prepping a trip. One question though...

      Why is there no mention of Travel Insurance? It would be aweful to have something happen on an international trip. here is a good site (btw they are not trying to sell anything)

    • profile image

      dwglobal 10 years ago

      Indeed traveling overseas is so exhausting and sometimes frustrating due to very high security measures implemented in airports but upon reading this article has given me some good tips. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Nick 10 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the sweet article. I always have trouble packing the right way, and now I got some great methods to try out on my next trip. (I hope it's someplace warm and gorgeous). Keep on rocking out the boss articles.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      They will ply you with food and drink the whole way - especially if you fly a non-American airline!

    • Adriana C. profile image

      Adriana C. 10 years ago

      Thanks for the caution Lissie. The trip will be over 24 hours, so I am sure by the time we arrive, it will all be gone.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      Be very cautious about taking your "little snack" on your Australian flight. Australia hasstrickt quarantee rules and you need to dispose of or declare all food on arrival - the fines are large and forgetting is not an excuse!

    • profile image

      Big E 10 years ago

      This is a pretty good list of things to prepare you for an overseas trip. The way that you break down how to prepare for the trip is a good idea, I have seen others start at their feet and work their way up versus starting at their head and working their way down. You did include something that many people forget, what not to bring.

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      Amanda 10 years ago

      Great tips! I'm definitely bookmarking this one for later. I'm travelling to Africa this summer and wouldn't have thought of a lot of things you mentioned. Thanks!

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      Mary 10 years ago

      Having never travelled internationally, I found this all very helpful. I found the information about visas particularly helpful. I thought a passport was enough, but apparently there is more needed in some countries. Thanks.

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      Trixie 10 years ago

      This is really a great site for anyone taking an international trip. One other thing I would add are the things that can or cannot be carried on and what can go in luggage. Is it permissible to pack things like nail files and razor blades in checked luggage? What about medications that I might need on a long flight?

    • profile image

      Donna 10 years ago

      I speak from experience that it is important to let your credit card company know that you are traveling internationally. Otherwise, they may put a hold on your credit card & you end up in another country with no money. It's also important to let your bank know that you are traveling!!

    • Adriana C. profile image

      Adriana C. 10 years ago

      Mimi, you are right: I forgot about that. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to notify the credit card companies. Also, another thing I forgot to mention is to let your Postal Service Office know you'll be gone do they can hold your mail until you come: this way your correspondence is safe form mail thieves.

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      Mimi 10 years ago

      Before you leave home, notify your bank and credit card companies that you'll be out of the country. Otherwise, when they see foreign transactions, they may put a fraud stop on your ATM/credit cards. It's happened to us, and it is much easier to take care of ahead of time than it is to take time out of your vacation to deal with.

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      bazjack 10 years ago

      I had no idea about the medical release, etc. for visas! I'm glad to know that. But it's a little scary how often luggage seems to get lost or delayed. I'd be nervous to check any luggage at all under those circumstances.