Your Essential Checklist for Overseas Travel
It’s the age old travel dilemma. You want to be prepared for anything on your overseas holiday, but you have limited luggage allowance. What are the essentials that will make sure you’re prepared for just about any situation, without weighing you down (literally!)?
Once you’ve created your personalised list, we recommend making copies to take with you, so you can check everything off when you re-pack to avoid leaving anything behind.
Seems pretty obvious, right? You need to take all your travel documents with you on your trip … but just what, exactly, constitutes ‘all your travel documents’? Here are some key items you’ll want to make sure you have with you.
Many foreign governments require that your passport has at least 6 months’ validity beyond the end date of your trip. Most travel agents will check this with you, but if you’ve booked directly yourself, it pays to check the requirements of the country you’re travelling to because you may be refused entry if you do not comply.
Make sure you have obtained any visas required for the country you are visiting from the local embassy or consulate. Contact your travel agent to find out visa requirements for your planned destination, or you can talk directly to the embassy or consulate in your nearest capital city. You’ll need to apply well in advance as they can take a few weeks to process.
Make sure you have paper copies of your policy (including the policy number) and 24-hour emergency contact details. It’s something that you hope to never to use, but if you need it, you’ll want fast and easy access to all the details.
Even if they’re electronic, make sure you have all the details and any documentation for your flights and transfers on hand. Sometimes paper is just easier.
It’s a good idea to take photocopies of all your important documents – including debit and credit cards – so you have a record of everything, should the worst happen. Keep a copy at home and a copy to travel with, but keep them separate from the original documents in a different compartment or at the bottom of your luggage.
Email yourself a scanned copy as well. Include things like: passport, travel insurance policy, flight tickets and transfers, any credit and debit cards you are travelling with, travellers’ cheques, drivers’ license, accommodation bookings, medical certificates (including vaccinations), student and seniors’ cards. Take a photo of the contents of your luggage too, in case you need to make an insurance claim.
If your luggage is getting on a bit, it might be worth considering an update. The latest materials and fabrics are lightweight and more durable than ever before. Modern luggage is also much easier to wheel and carry. Think about how you need to use your luggage, too. Do you want something light and portable that will easily fit into the boots of cars and luggage compartments of trains, planes and buses, or is a suitcase more appropriate to your needs?
Bear in mind the size, especially for airline carry-on baggage as size limits are strictly adhered to. A small day pack is a necessity too. Something that you can use to carry a water bottle, sunglasses, purse or wallet, phone, hat, and maybe some snacks to tide you over.
Your list of personal and medical items can end up being quite substantial, so it’s definitely worth writing them all down, to make sure you remember everything.
If you need to take prescription medication, you’ll need a letter from your doctor that identifies you and what medications you’re taking. Some countries require this for naturopathic herbs and supplements too. Other health related things you might like to consider include: aspirin, paracetamol, or ibuprofen; insect repellent; antihistamines for allergies and insect bites; travel sickness tablets; anti-malaria pills (if recommended by a doctor); rehydration powder (like Hydrolyte) in case of tummy bugs; and anti-diarrhoea pills (but consult your doctor on this).
Depending on what you’re planning for your trip, you might also like to consider a small first aid kit too. Having said all of this, if you’re sticking to major cities, all of these things will be readily available to buy if required. In your efforts to be prepared for anything, consider your luggage allowance and how comfortable you think you’ll be shopping for some of these items locally if the need arises.
When packing toiletries for travel, avoid packing the full sized bottles and jars of your favourite products. This just adds unnecessary weight to your luggage and takes up valuable space. You can buy special travel sized versions of nearly all the essential toiletries: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste deodorant, face cleanser, body lotion, moisturizer, etc.
Many hotels stock basic toiletries too, so you may not need to pack anything in this regard. If you’re particular about using your favourite products, you can buy plastic travel bottles in which to decant a small amount of those tried and true lotions and cleansers that won’t let you down. You’ll also want to make sure you have sunscreen, contact lens fluid (and spare lenses), eye drops, insect repellent, shaving equipment, and lip balm.
Your choice of clothing will obviously be dependent on the climate of your destination, but a good general rule of thumb is to take lots of mix-and-match items that can all be worn with each other. Fabrics that are easy to wash, are drip-dry, and don’t need ironing are ideal. It’s also worth looking for lightweight materials that wick away moisture and repel odour, so you can get a couple of wears out of them before they need washing. It’s a good idea to pack one dressier outfit in case you have the opportunity for a special dinner. Otherwise, comfort is the main priority – especially when it comes to footwear!
Although not strictly speaking an item of clothing, you might like to consider taking a small, lightweight micro-fibre towel. They are super-absorbent; take up very little space and can come in very handy, even when you’re staying at hotels where towels are supplied.
The list of gadgets and items you can take travelling to enhance your experience is almost endless. Technology has made the life of a traveller infinitely more convenient in terms of gizmos with multiple functionality and making things smaller and lighter. You can now load up your kindle or tablet – or smart phone for that matter – with all the books you’ll need for your trip.
This same device will most likely provide you with a camera, a note-taking function to keep your travel journal, and also store music for your adventure soundtrack. Most mobile phones also have a torch function and alarm clock as part of the standard utilities – both of which may come in handy.
Make sure you bring an electrical adapter for the country you’re travelling to, and if you’re making the most of technology, don’t forget to pack the charger and cable. If you have multiple devices, it’s worth considering investing in a universal charger that will keep everything up and running via a tablet or laptop.
Consider downloading Skype or a similar app for cheap or free phone calls on Wi-Fi networks. And while we’re talking apps, there are a number that help you learn languages and serve as a phrase book or language guide.
Other items worth considering popping in your bag include: ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones (these are terrific on the plane if you struggle to sleep); a reusable water bottle; scissors or army knife (put these in your suitcase as they’re not allowed in the plane cabin); good old fashioned playing cards; and a pen.
Enjoy your trip!