International travel checklist: 10 actions to consider before you go

Woman taking photo sitting on a boat

Help your overseas journey run smoothly — and stay safe too — by completing this international travel checklist before you depart.

In 2022, more than 80 million Americans traveled to Canada, Mexico, and overseas — a 64% increase over 2021. (According to the International Trade Administration, top-visited destinations included the United Kingdom, France, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Germany, and Spain.) Whether you’re one of those 80 million or plan to join their ranks soon, there are a number of steps you should consider as part of your international travel planning to help keep yourself and your property safe. A good place to start is with the 10 items on the list below.

  1. Double-check your documents. Some countries require that your passport be valid for six months beyond your return date. Don’t put off this check, as it can take eight weeks or longer to receive a new U.S. passport. Also check whether any of your destinations require a visa by searching on the country name in the “Learn About Your Destination” section on
  2. Make copies. Make multiple copies of your passport’s biographical data page. Leave one copy with someone at home, stash one in your carry-on, and have another in your checked bag.
  3. Get vaccinated. Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to see if certain vaccinations are required — and do so well in advance, as you should receive any necessary vaccinations four to six weeks in advance of your trip. This website also posts information about health concerns around the world.
  4. Register with the U.S. State Department. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service that provides security alerts and travel advisories to Americans while traveling. It also ensures the embassy or consulate knows how to contact you if there’s an emergency.
  5. Get a prescription refill. Make sure you’ll have enough prescription medication for your trip’s duration. If you’ll require an extra refill during your trip, contact your physician about how to make arrangements. Always carry medications on your person or in your carry-on so you don’t risk losing them during transport.
  6. Have a plan for cash. Get your cash from a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. Airport currency conversion typically results in poor exchange rates and high fees.
  7. Stay connected. Buy the correct power converters and adapters for your electronic devices so you can use or charge them at your destination. Remain cautious when using public Wi-Fi. Using your mobile network connection is generally more secure than using a public wireless network. Disable auto connectivity and Bluetooth so that you only connect to wireless and Bluetooth networks when you want to.1
  8. Opt for global coverage. Talk to your wireless carrier about activating your phone’s global capability and learn about any additional charges for talk, text, and data use during your travels.
  9. Make house plans. You may want to consider finding a house sitter, pausing mail and newspaper delivery, paying bills ahead of time, and letting your home security company know you’ll be away. Consider waiting to post online about your trip until after you’re back home so you don’t advertise that your house is sitting empty.
  10. Reach out. Tell your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans so they take your travel location into consideration as they monitor your accounts for suspicious charges.

1 Cybersecurity While Traveling Tip Card,, March 2024