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International Travel Guide: Preparing for Departure

Updated: May 17, 2023

Woman searching for travel destinations on laptop computer with coffee and world map

Two to Six Months Before Departure

Check the expiration date of your passport, driver’s license, and credit and debit cards.

  • For many destinations, passports must not expire within 6 months of your return flight, or you can be denied boarding on the way to your destination.

  • Ensure your passport has sufficient blank visa pages, including blank visa pages. Some visas require a full blank page.

  • Apply or renew early, as processing times can take 2-4 months, even with expedited service.

  • If your U.S. driver’s license will expire during your trip, renew it before departure.

  • Check if your credit and debit cards will expire during your trip. Request new cards in advance to ensure they arrive before your departure date.

  • If your debit or credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, consider applying for a travel card with no foreign transaction fees.

Travel That Delights International Travel Guide
Download PDF • 4.46MB

  • Arrange necessary care for children, pets, and your home (lawn care/watering, snow removal).

  • Check the Travel Health Notices from the CDC. Schedule an appointment with your medical provider to discuss your travel plans and confirm what vaccinations or medications are recommended for the countries on your itinerary. Request medication refills sufficient for the duration of your trip, including potential delays. If you travel with medical devices or mobility aids, consult your medical provider to ensure you have everything you need.

  • Confirm if any countries on your itinerary require a Visa for entry and if the visa must be obtained in advance or upon arrival.

  • Request a Letter of Consent if you will be traveling with minor children without both parents or legal guardians present. Immigration authorities may ask for documentation of consent from both parents and may refuse entry or exit without a consent letter.

What to include in a parental consent letter? Child’s full name, Date and Place of Birth, gender, Child’s passport number

Travel details – destination, length of trip, travel dates

Parent/Legal Guardian names

Contact information of parents

Names of adults traveling with (if neither parent)

Signature of both parents, dated

Witness signature, dated and Notarized

  • Inspect your luggage and make any necessary repairs to zippers, wheels, or handles. Confirm your luggage meets the size and weight requirements of your airline(s).

Two Months Prior

  • Schedule hair and personal care appointments.

  • Check with your cell phone provider about rates/plans for your destination.

  • Make arrangements for transportation to/from the airport and parking.

  • If you will be traveling internationally, apply for an International Driving Permit.

  • Make a shopping list for any clothing items, luggage, or travel accessories you need before your trip. Order anything you can’t find locally, allowing time for shipping and returns/exchanges.

One Month Prior


woman working at laptop holding cell phone

Three Weeks Prior


  • Back up your phone and photos or sync to cloud storage.

  • Ensure you have the necessary charging cords, adapters, cases, and lanyards for your device(s). Order anything you’re missing.

  • Activate FindMy or a similar app on your phone so you can locate, deactivate, or erase your phone remotely if it is lost or stolen.


  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel dates and destinations so they don't decline charges while you’re traveling.

  • Make copies of the front and back of the credit cards you are taking and add the contact information to your phone. Take a set with you and leave a set with a family member or friend not traveling with you.

  • Add your financial institution’s apps to your phone so you can check your balances and report cards lost or stolen on the go.

  • Pay or schedule payments for any bills due during your trip.

Two Weeks Prior

  • Ensure you’ve received any documents you’ve applied for, such as passports, VISAs, International Driving Permits, and Parental Consent forms. If any have not arrived yet, track and escalate as necessary to receive them in time for your departure.

  • Put your mail on hold with the USPS or arrange for someone to empty your mailbox while you’re away. Suspend newspaper delivery.

  • Prepare instructions and arrange access for anyone who will check on your home, water plants, and care for pets while you’re out of town.

One Week Prior

Assemble Your Travel Documents

  • Travel itinerary, booking confirmations, and points of contact for hotels, guides, and drivers.

  • Your Passport, Vaccination records, Driver’s License, and International Driving Permit.

  • Photocopies of your identification (passport and Driver’s License, vaccination record, debit, and credit cards.

  • Make copies of your prescriptions, and take photos of your medication labels or original bottles.

  • Copies of your travel insurance and medical insurance card.

  • Add photos/copies of your documents to your phone or cloud storage such as Google Drive. Share copies or access with a friend or family member not traveling with you.

  • The PIN for each of your credit/debit cards.

Start Packing

  • Assemble travel toiletries & carry-on essentials, and replace/refill any missing items.

  • Gather books, magazines, and download ebooks, movies, and shows.

  • Double-check your bags have luggage tags with current contact info. Attach an AirTag or Tile tracking device.

  • Check all luggage and carry-on pockets for any prohibited items.

  • Pick up dry cleaning/tailoring.

  • Do a trial run to ensure everything fits in your suitcase & carry-on. Save ironing until after you’ve made your final selections. Ensure your carry-on and checked bags are within the weight limitations for your airline(s) and not too heavy to lift into the overhead bins.

  • Check the latest weather forecast for your destination and modify your clothing selections if necessary.

woman packing suitcase for travel with passport camera and cell phone

Read our Packing Tips

Day Before Departure

  • Fully charge your electronic devices.

  • As you finish packing, photograph the contents of your suitcase and carry-on in case you need to file a claim for lost luggage.

  • Check-in for your flights online or through your airline’s smartphone app.

  • Clean out the refrigerator and pantry of any items that could spoil while you’re away.

Departure Day

Double check you have the following:

  • House keys / Car Keys

  • Passport / Government Issued Photo ID

  • Phone

  • Tablet

  • Laptop

  • Wallet / Cash / Credit Cards

  • Medications / Medical Records

  • Turn off and unplug any sensitive electronics like computers/TVs.

  • Close window coverings.

  • Ensure the stove, clothes irons, flat irons, etc., are all turned off and unplugged.

  • If you’ll be away for an extended time, consider turning off the water to the washing machine and adding a drop of bleach to toilet bowls.

  • Set your thermostat to save energy while away.

  • Take out trash and recycling.

  • Water plants, indoors and outside.

  • Order Taxi / UBER / Ride to the airport.

  • Set security lights/system.

Download Our Packing List & Pre-departure Checklist

iPad displaying international travel guide on a table with flowers

Travel That Delights International Travel Guide
Download PDF • 4.46MB

Packing Tips

  • Lay out or hang everything you want to take, then edit it down by half. Can't decide what to eliminate? Try things on together and remove items that can’t be worn with 2-3 other pieces. Think in terms of outfits instead of individual pieces.

  • Pick a color palette. For inspiration, pick a multi-colored scarf or top and pick solid color pieces that coordinate with it. Add pops of color with accessories and jewelry.

  • Select versatile clothing items that can be dressed up or down and layered for varying weather conditions.

  • Pick quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can be laundered easily and don’t require ironing.

  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane to save room in your suitcase.

  • Organize your items with packing cubes. To save even more room, try compression cubes.

  • To make your suitcase easier to roll, place the heaviest items toward the bottom (where the wheels are) and the lightest at the top, where the handle is.

  • Keep the contents of your bag smelling fresh by packing a couple of dryer sheets or lavender sachets. We love these Reusable Lavender Dryer Bags from Trader Joe's.

  • Put liquids in a leak-proof bag or Ziploc to avoid spills inside your suitcase. Some destinations strictly limit liquids in carry-on bags and require quart-sized clear Ziplocs.

  • Rolling vs. Folding comes down to personal preference. Both offer advantages, and sometimes combining the two methods works best.

  • Use every available space, including the insides of your shoes! Roll socks inside Ziploc bags and fill your shoes. You’ll gain valuable space and help your shoes keep their shape. Remove any excess packaging from toiletries or electronics.

  • Pack your jewelry and valuables in your carry-on, never in your checked luggage.

  • Pack essential items in a zipper pouch in your carry-on for quick access to chapstick, gum/mints, snacks, headphones, hand wipes & sanitizer, phone charger, etc.

  • Keep a photocopy of your Passport and Driver’s License in your carry-on, separate from your original documents. Snap a photo of both and keep it in your phone or cloud storage.


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