Behold, the ultimate pre-travel checklist.
1. Make sure your passport doesn’t expire soon.
Many countries will not permit travelers to enter the country unless their passports will remain valid for at least six months after their scheduled departure.
Here is a list of some countries that have special passport expiration rules.
SIX MONTHS — Brazil, Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands), Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Paraguay, Romania, Singapore.
THREE MONTHS — Cambodia, Denmark (including Greenland), Fiji, Switzerland. (Denmark applies its three-month rule to your stay in any of 15 European countries).
Check your passport expiration date well in advance of your trip so that you can make the necessary preparations and avoid getting denied entry!
2. Check any visa requirements for the country you’re traveling to.
It’s important to research beforehand a country’s various visa types and requirements, as they will vary drastically depending on whether you wish to travel as a temporary or permanent visitor.
All of the countries below will normally require you to have a visa in order to gain entry, unless you are a passport holder.
Algeria – While there is a shortlist of countries whose nationals are subject to a visa waiver agreement with Algeria, all other visitors to Algeria will require an Algerian visa.
Brazil – Although Brazil has an expansive visa waiver agreement with a number of countries (including the UK), there are still a number of countries whose citizens are required to obtain a Brazil visa before they enter the country.
China – Regardless of the purpose or length of your trip to China, you will require a Chinese visa to gain entry.
Cuba – Everyone wishing to enter Cuba is required to apply for a Cuba visa before being allowed entry. Should you wish to enter the country as a tourist, you will be required to apply for a tourist visa-card.
Egypt – An Egyptian visa is a permit issued by the Egyptian visa authorities to a person for entry, exit or transit through Egypt. Tourist and Business visas are issued according to the applicant’s status, purpose of visit and passport type
France – As France is part of the Schengen visa scheme (see below), the majority of applicants will require a Schengen visa for short-term trips. However, for more permanent French visas, there will be a different application process
Ghana – While the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States have a visa waiver system set for their nationals traveling to Ghana, all other visitors to Ghana must be in possession of a Ghana visa.
India – All nationals traveling to India are required to apply for an India visa in order to enter the country, whether it’s for tourism, business or simply transit.
Indonesia – With the exception of nationals from a short-list of visa exempt countries (U.S. is included), all visitors to Indonesia will require an Indonesia visa for their trip, no matter whether it is for the purpose of tourism or business.
Kenya – While Kenya does have a visa waiver system, this excludes the majority of EU states, including the UK. However, the UK is the only country whose nationals can apply for multiple-entry Kenyan visas.
Mongolia – While nationals from some countries are not required to apply for a Mongolia visa to gain entry to Mongolia, all UK nationals are required to lodge a visa application.
Nepal – While Indian nationals are exempt from having to make a visa application to gain entry to Nepal, all other visitors to Nepal must be in possession of a Nepal visa. Nepal visas may be granted for reasons of tourism, business, study or transit.
Nigeria – Unless you are a citizen from one of the Economic Community of West African States, you will be required to apply for a Nigerian visa to visit the country temporarily for tourism or business purposes.
Russia – When traveling to Russia in any capacity, you will be required to gain a visa. There are a number of different visa classes, depending on the purpose of your visit.
Saudi Arabia – The Saudi Arabia visa process is something that many international travelers visiting the country will have to navigate, and there are a variety of visa classes.
Schengen Visa – There are a number of European states (who number 15 in total) that participate fully in the Schengen Agreement of 1995. Schengen visa holders are able to move freely between the states on a short-term basis for up to 90 days.
Tanzania – While nationals from a few countries are not required to apply for a Tanzania visa to gain entry to Tanzania, all UK nationals are required to lodge a visa application, as well as the majority of other nationals.
Thailand – Most international travellers wishing to gain entry to Thailand need to obtain a Thai visa. However, visitors from a number of visa-exempt countries can travel to Thailand for tourism purposes without having a Thai visa.
Vietnam – A Vietnam visa is part of the required migration process for all travelers to the country. Dependent on the purpose of an applicant’s visit, a Tourist or Business visa will be required for entry.
Your best bet is to research the destination country’s visa requirements, as they change based on what passport you hold.
You should also know the approximate date and length of time you are going to be traveling for because you will have to set the dates (30, 60, 90 days). Also make sure you allow enough time to mail in your passport and have it mailed back to you before your trip.
3. Prepare to secure everything – your luggage and your identity.
Crime on the road is something you should always consider and anticipate before traveling – and buying thing like locks for your luggage and hidden money packs are necessities. But what about your online security?
Every day our most private and personal data is gathered and sold to the highest bidder – all without our permission or approval. It’s called Big Data, but it’s also big business. Put simply, our personal data has value and is worth real money.
That’s why I use Sudo – an app that automatically generates safe, secure and private personas – that means email addresses, working phone numbers, password managers and secure browsers that don’t track your online behaviors.
I created a secure email address, a new phone number and use the browser to prevent any of my information being collected by third party apps/companies. It’s also a great way to book flights and hotels without having the prices jump up immediately after searching for them.
The app gives you, and only you, total control over your personas, and it doesn’t collect any of your personal data or track/monitor any of your communications while you’re online.
Plus, if you meet people while traveling and want to stay in contact – you can give them your new Sudo number or email address as a way to reach you without having to give them your actual phone number or email address.
After all, you never know how crazy people will turn out – I’ve had some horror stories of people I’ve met while traveling who seemed perfectly normal only to become weirdly stalker-ish shortly afterwards.
You can download the app for free here right now.
4. Call your bank and credit card company beforehand.
It’s happened to me – I flew into Costa Rica only to have none of my credit cards work because I realized AFTER I had gotten off the plane that I had forgotten to call my credit card company and inform them about my travel plans.
Call your bank and credit card company beforehand and give them approximate dates + locations on where you’re going and when – so that you don’t get stuck having no way of contacting them afterwards. Many banks now offer this service online, so log into your online account and check before hopping on the plane.
5. Check the local currency and bring as much cash as needed.
Check the local currency and anticipate any situations where you may need cash as soon as you arrive at the airport at your destination. It’s usually better to take cash out at the ATM, as most airport money exchange kiosks will take a commission and/or give you a horrible exchange rate.
However, in some cases – as was mine when I arrived in Bali – you may have forgotten to inform your bank/credit card company or forgotten your ATM card altogether – it’s always better to have some cash on you when you arrive.
I am so, so glad that I had decided NOT to deposit my U.S. cash before arriving in Bali because I forgot my debit card in the ATM at the airport, and if I had not had the extra cash in my bag – I wouldn’t have been able to pay for anything (most places don’t take credit cards).
Don’t bring too much cash, though – I feel nervous/anxious if I have too much cash on me at one time. Look up the prices of cabs to your hotel from the airport, or first destination upon arrival – estimate the amount you think you may need – and plan accordingly!
6. Check the carry-on requirements for your airline.
There is absolutely no reason to bring luggage bigger than carry on size. I repeat – no reason. Traveling light is only going to make your experience EASIER.
If you have a huge suitcase, buy a new one – and one that fits the carry-on requirements for the airline you’ll be flying on. Most budget airlines have smaller requirements, so check those beforehand and compare with the suitcases/luggage you are currently eyeing.
Plus, if you’re taking a carry-on size suitcase, you’ll save money. 🙂
7. Bring the appropriate outlet adaptors and plugs to charge your electronics.
Research what countries use what plugs and search for adaptors that are sold from reputable brands/companies.
You can buy individual adaptors or all-in-one adaptors (probably a bit more expensive, but easier obvi). Pack these along with your electronics to ensure that you have a way to charge your goodies while you’re traveling!
8. Learn basics of the language.
This is not only going to make your life easier, but it’s also a way to be respectful of the culture and country you are visiting.
A few weeks before you travel, take the time to learn even the basics of the destination’s language – please, hello, thank you, excuse me and goodbye – just a few terms that will help open the door, and probably invite a smile from someone local to the area.
Some countries are home to people who know multiple languages just because they grew up there (i.e. Switzerland, Morocco) – don’t expect everyone to speak English, either. And if you can only speak English (which is completely fine!), learn how to ask if someone speaks English in their native tongue.
Thank you so much for reading this post – do you have any other items to add to this pre-travel checklist? Please leave a comment for us below!