June 19, 2024

Lisbon, Portugal

Determine Your Items for an International Trip

I have been traveling on international trips for many years. It’s all about planning and learning the rules.  Do your research and understand the limits and restrictions on what you can and cannot pack for international destinations. It’s not worth the hassle and stress to be held up and security or having to throw items away. Here is a Checklist for Your International Trip.

International Travel Documents

  • Before packing your passport, make sure that the expiry date is longer than six months. Some countries won’t let you in if the expiry date is too short. Be sure to read the laws of your destination.
  • Print a copy of your travel insurance. I highly recommend you have insurance. It’s usually inexpensive and protects against medical costs, theft, flight delays, and more.
  • Pack your travel documents in a separate bag and carry them with you. Never put your documents in your checked bag. Extra: Take pics of them and store them on your phone.
  • Print out a copy of your boarding pass. It will work as a backup if your phone battery dies.
  • Print out other tickets you have purchased in advance. Have your emergency contact information, medical requirements, medications, and anything that will be best in print.


  • Bring dual-voltage chargers for devices. If you’re located in America and traveling to Europe, make sure that all of your chargers are dual voltage.  The USA uses 110v electricity, but Europe uses 220v. If you don’t have an adequate charger, you will ruin your device.
  • Phone (includes good camera), headphone and tablet.
  • Make certain you have a plan on your phone so that you can stay connected. A local SIM Card is the best way, or you can work with your provider and get a plan.
  • Get fully charged before your trip. If you can’t turn it on when asked as security (not all ask) you may not be able to take it.
Fly and Stay Cheap

Toiletries and Medication

  • The allowed amount of liquids must fit into a standard TSA bag. If it doesn’t close, it won’t get past them.
  • Unless you have a very special shampoo, I would leave it at home and buy it locally. They have great products in Europe!
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, q-tips, contact solution, shaving cream and shavers. But remember they sell all of these items in 99% of the places you will visit.
  • Pack meds in your carry-on or your flight bag. If the medication is in liquid form and over 3.4 ounces, but in reasonable quantities, it’s allowed on the flight. Note that the medicine needs to be in its original packaging.
  • Other meds: Allergy, motion sickness, asthma, painkillers.
  • If you need prescription medicine, don’t forget to bring the prescription with you. Some countries accept prescriptions from other countries.


  • Between two similar options, always choose the lightest.
  • For longer trips, bring less and wash everything mid-way. Usually, larger hotels have the option to do the laundry for you, so its perfect for two to four-week trips. Even if they don’t, ask around, and they’ll usually tell you where the nearest laundry facility. Alternatively, underwear and socks can be easily washed in the sink with regular soap.
  • Choose a color scheme. Basically, you should be able to combine any two pieces of clothing to make an outfit. Avoid packing outfits for every day that don’t go together separately. This way, you can wear your trousers for several days while changing your t-shirts and underwear every day.
  • Dress in layers. If you’re traveling to colder climates, an excellent way to save space is to dress in layers. Rather than taking large jackets and hoodies, take several thin shirts.
  •  Wear the bulkiest shoes on your flight. You will save space in your suitcase.
  • For your flight days, you can pack a single outfit. For instance, if you’ve gone for seven days, pack for six days, because you’ll be wearing the same thing on your first and last day.
  • Research the fashion culture in your destination. For instance, if you’re a woman, you don’t want to wear something that reveals lots of skin in Arabic countries. In Europe, people tend to dress a bit more formally than in America. It’s all about blending in!
  • Trousers, skirts and shorts. Bring 2 trousers and 2 shorts.
  • Tops/blouses: take one for every 2 days (you could fit in one for every day but why if you mix and match?)
  • Hoodies, shirts, jackets: Skip the bulky jackets. A single hoodie, undershirt and a blouse are enough for cooler temperatures.
  • Dresses: They are perfect for traveling, as they take up so little space.
  • Shoes and boots: I bring no more than three pairs of shoes: A pair of walking shoes, casual ballet slippers, casual shoes. And remember that you are wearing a pair.
  • Underwear and socks. I recommend packing a pair every two days. And wash midway.

Don’t forget these items: scarves, swimsuits, pajamas, and jewelry. Go light on jewelry. A few classic pieces will work.

  • Take food and snacks: You are allowed to pack almost any food, as long as you follow the 3.4 oz rule. The rule states that you cannot pack liquids in bottles larger than 3.4 oz in your hand luggage. This includes sauces, creams, and other liquids.
  • Pack a few zip-locks, plastics bags. They don’t take up much space, and you never know when you are going to need them.
  • Download e-books, movies, and tv series before your trip. To keep yourself entertained, make sure to download everything in advance.
  • Other items that you could forget: sunglasses, regular glasses and a case, tweezers, hand sanitizer, paper/pen, cash, keys.
  • Accessories: If you have the room, pack a sleeping pillow, and a face mask for comfortable sleeping.
  • Wear glasses instead of contacts when flying.
  • To freshen up, pack some wet wipes and hand cream in your carry-on. Although this is optional, cleaning your hands and face with wet wipes will make you feel much fresher. The dry air and pressure changes can make you feel like you haven’t showered for several days.

Before You Start Packing Your Suitcase

  • Before you start packing, make a list of all your items. This will help you to avoid forgetting something. Lay all items on the bed. Reading a list can be one thing, but looking at all of your items in front of you will help you to see how tightly you should be packing. Re-check if you have everything that’s on the list.
  • Choose the appropriate luggage. I take a backpack or a large handbag and a suitcase. Make sure that everything is within the size limits. Use luggage with spinner wheels and it makes things move a lot smoother.
  • Determine the weight and size restrictions for your flight. For international flights, you will usually find that the carry-on limits are tighter, so be sure to know the airlines’ website and measure your luggage.

Tips on Packing Your Suitcase

  • Pack these items in your carry-on: Documents, electronics, chargers, toiletries, and medicine.
  • Start by packing your documents. Put all documents in a folder and stash them in an easily accessible place.
  • Utilize packing cubes. They’re a great way to organize your items and save a little bit of space. I usually divide the cubes by their contents. For instance, one is for electronics, another is for chargers and smaller items, and one is for bulkier clothing, etc.
  • Before you start packing, roll, and fold your clothes. For easier packing, I always roll my t-shirts, pants, trousers, shorts, and underwear. This saves a lot of space and usually, the items don’t get that wrinkled. I fold shirts and other things that need to be wrinkle-free. If you’re using packing cubes, fold them in the exact size of the largest cube, which will help when you’re packing it.
  • If you’re using packing cubes, pack them full. This results in fewer wrinkles on your clothes. Also, pack in a way that your items are easy to pull out.
  • If packing without cubes, start packing with shoes and larger items. Ideally, you want to place your shoes and heavier items down at the bottom of the case, because this will result in a better-balanced suitcase.
  • Fill your shoes with socks and underwear. Not only does this save space, but your shoes won’t get squashed after unpacking.
  • Fill the gaps with smaller items. When you’ve finished with the larger things like shoes, jackets, jeans, hoodies, and the toiletry bag, fill the gaps with socks, underwear, and t-shirts.
  • Use the internal straps to tighten your contents. If you tighten them, your clothes won’t be all over the suitcase, and you will have fewer wrinkles because there will be less movement.
  • Weigh your bag and make sure that it’s close to the weight limit. Most of the time, the airline staff will let you pass with a little variance.

After You are Packed

  • Re-check if your documents and valuables are packed in your carry-on.
  • If you’re above the weight limit, start by removing clothes. 80% of your suitcase is easily taken up by clothes. Most of the time, you’re taking too much. Consider packing for a week and washing your clothes after seven days.

Money and credit cards

  • Don’t exchange money in money exchanges. The rate is the best when withdrawing through a well-known ATM at your destination. Airports and money exchanges will have worse rates. When you arrive, look for a well-known ATM.
  • Consider getting a wallet or purse that you use specifically for travel. There are a lot of options out there for the safer storage of your personal items. You might want an RFID wallet that insulates you from electronic pickpocketing. You can also invest in a waterproof, crossbody bag that will keep your items safe from the elements as well as make it harder for thieves to try to grab from you.
  • Notify your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling. Your bank or credit cards can freeze your accounts if they notice strange transactions. Notifying them ahead of time will help you to avoid an issue because they will add a record to your account for the fraud detection system.
  • Educate yourself on local currency. It can be incredibly difficult to tell the difference between different coins and bills if you’re not from that country. Also, Learning about the currency where you’re headed can save you a lot of headaches and from possibly being short changed.
  • Consider using prepaid travel cards. If you don’t want to bring along your debit or credit cards, consider using a prepaid travel card instead. You can load a specific amount of money onto the card before your trip, allowing you to lock in your exchange rate.
  • Hide your money. Hide your money on your body by using a scarf with a hidden compartment or a security belt with a hidden wallet. If you leave money in your hotel room, hide it.
Fly and Stay Cheap


Why do I need a checklist for my international trip?

Having a checklist ensures that you don’t forget important items and tasks before and during your international trip. It helps you stay organized and reduces the chances of encountering any last-minute problems or oversights.

What should I include in my international travel checklist?

Your checklist should cover essential items such as travel documents (passport, visa, ID, etc.), flight tickets, travel insurance, accommodation details, necessary medications, appropriate clothing, and any specific items related to your destination.

When should I start making my checklist?

It’s best to start making your checklist well in advance, preferably a few weeks before your trip. This will give you enough time to gather everything you need and make any necessary arrangements.

How can I keep my checklist organized and accessible during the trip?

You can maintain your checklist digitally on your smartphone or use a travel planning app. Alternatively, you can create a physical checklist and keep it in your travel organizer or wallet for easy access.

What are some important travel documents I should not forget to include?

Essential travel documents include your valid passport, visa (if required), travel itinerary, travel insurance policy, driver’s license (if applicable), and any necessary health certificates or vaccination records.

Should I inform my bank about my international travel plans?

Yes, it’s crucial to inform your bank about your international travel dates and destinations. This prevents them from flagging your transactions as suspicious and potentially blocking your cards due to unusual activity.

What should I pack in my carry-on bag?

In your carry-on bag, pack essentials like your passport, travel documents, wallet, medications, phone charger, a socks, toiletries, and any valuable or fragile items you want to keep close during the flight.

Is travel insurance necessary for international trips?

While not mandatory, travel insurance is highly recommended for international trips. It provides financial protection against unforeseen events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, lost baggage, and travel delays.


Packing for your trip will be less stressful if you prepare. Using tips like those listed above will ensure that you’re ready. Remember, you need to pack only as many clothes as you will realistically need. Going over the weight limits will end in hefty fines. Wearing layers onto your flight can also give you more space in your suitcase but make sure you will be comfortable as international flights are long and exhausting.

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