So it's time to take that bird and fly yourself overseas for a business and/or pleasure trip. This means you need to take into consideration the clothing, documentation and equipment you'll need to take along.
If you're like me, just the logistics of getting to the airport and making sure the bills are paid is enough to consume your energy with. And as someone who has worked over the years to overcome a very scattered mind, I live by checklists. In fact, if you were at my house, you'd see a small slip of paper by the door with the basics of what I need to consider each day when heading off to work (lunch, phone, laptop, bottle of water, etc.).
With that in mind, here is my general checklist of items and tasks I use to make sure I have everything I need for a successful getaway. This list does wonders for cutting down that "oh crap" feeling I get when I'm 5 minutes from the airport and an hour from my house! I hope this helps you too.
Depending on your special circumstances, just remember, you may need to make adjustments to this list. I also would suggest having a staging area somewhere in your home where, up to a week before hand, you begin collecting items you'll need to pack. There is nothing worse than realizing some small but very important things, like your UK or EC outlet converters or your International Driver's License, even though you did think about them 3 days before you left.
For Basic Survival
- Easy to carry baggage. If you can get down to 1 bag, that is ideal.
- Up to 5 days worth of clothing, including weather appropriate clothing. Carry your jacket.
- Shaving accessories, toothbrush, toothpaste, and general toiletries
- Suntan lotion
- Mosquito repellant (especially if you're planning to hike or be out in nature)
- All liquids under 2 oz if possible. Acceptable up to 3.4 oz for some items. Check restrictions.
- Tide pods (if you are staying over 5 days and have access to washer and dryer - make sure powders are acceptable)
- Provide itinerary with contact numbers, dates and locations to someone staying behind.
- Travel insurance is up to you. You may already have some coverage elsewhere or you might be willing to risk it.
- Any handy apps you might want to download. I find WhatsApp to be popular for making calls over Wi-Fi in Europe. I also find Google Maps works great as a GPS, but use the download maps feature if you're going to be driving in remote areas.
- Make sure to take any prescriptions (and plan to have any checkups before you leave). Take an extra set of contact lenses or glasses, if possible.
- Have a list of a couple of important phrases written down or memorized for the country you are going to, if English is not the primary language.
- A valid passport, good for the time you are going to be there and maybe a few months extra to be sure. In addition, a work visa, if you are staying more than 90 days. U.S. citizens are only required to have a valid passport in European Union and the United Kingdom at the time of this writing.
- Make sure, if taking kids, that you have their proper passports and a letter of consent if only one parent is traveling.
- Contact your banks where you'll be using credit cards and debit cards overseas.
- Find locations ahead of time, if possible, for where you can get cash (Bank ATM's preferrably). See if your bank has any agreements with overseas banks.
- Try not to carry more than $200 at a time (converted to whatever currency required). But you should carry money, as some places you visit may not accept credit cards.
- Laptop or Tablet along with chargers.
- Smartphone along with chargers.
- Outlet converters (British are different from European Union) take multiple for multiple devices.
- Make sure you have bills paid through your trip or that you can make payments securely, wherever you are going.
- Set up an International plan with your phone carrier and make sure it's turned on. Use airplane mode or shut off data if you're going to be charged for it. Remember apps like Google Photos may backup on your data plan unless you turn them off. Make sure all the countries you're going to are covered and what you may be charged for. I was surprised to find a bill for use in Monaco, which I just assumed was within my plan.
- Put a hold on your mail, if necessary.
- Take care of pets.
- Put a timer on any frequently used lights to have them pop on and off at normal times (to make it appear you are home).
- Put mail on hold and request that newspapers or other items that could collect on your lawn are suspended.
- Ask trusted neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
For Lodging and Transportation
- Plane tickets both to Europe and within Europe.
- Hotel reservations and a printout of confirmation numbers (or access through your phone)
- Car reservation
- Rail pass reservations (you should buy your pass before you head to Europe)
- International Driver's Permit (if you rent a car, this is essential and costs as little as $20).
- Some kind of GPS if you're driving.
- I highly recommend getting the TSA Global Entry Pass with TSA Pre-Check. This will save time and frustration at the airport, including speeding up re-entry.
- Make sure you're not carrying any restricted items on the plane.
- If driving, get familiar with the rules of the road and signage differences in the countries you'll be visiting. For instance, some countries require headlights on at all times, and others may require validation stickers, etc.
- Any reservations for any shows, restaurants, or attractions (double check if the one you want to go to requires them, or have one if you're in the busy season).
- Headphones, any adapters and music or movies on your laptop, smartphone or tablet.
- Camera, if not using smartphone. Or take an inexpensive backup that you can hand to someone and not fear it being stolen.
- Memory cards for camera and battery charger.
- Use social media with caution while on a trip. Make sure you aren't broadcasting your absense to people who might take advantage.
Again, your list may vary. But I hope this is a great help in getting you on the road with peace of mind. If I missed anything, feel free to let me know in the comments. I'll add what seems appropriate. Happy travels!