Perhaps you’re planning on taking the trip of a lifetime or simply looking forward to visiting family members overseas. Or maybe it’s work-related. Whatever the reason for international travel, preparation is essential for ensuring a safe and stress-free travel experience.

Important Prep Work Prior to International Travel - vacination, travel, research, prep

The following serves as a helpful guide for those planning to travel overseas in the near future:

Procuring your travel documents

International travelers are required to present their up-to-date passports prior to entry into a foreign country. With this in mind, the first step is to ensure your passport isn’t expired or is set to expire during your trip. Fortunately, the passport renewal process is relatively fast and affordable in most countries. However, depending on the purpose of your visit or existing health and safety protocols, additional documentation may be required. These include work visas, vaccination cards, and driver’s licenses.

Taking a food allergy test

It might sound silly, but a food allergy test should be an essential part of your pre-trip planning. Different cultures around the world enjoy a diverse variety of foods. Foreigners are encouraged to try these dishes while visiting. Reliable food allergy testing will let you know which foods to avoid during your trip. The last thing you want is to be stuck in your hotel room the entire time due to a bad allergic reaction. On the flip side, finding out you lack any detectable food allergy means you’re free to sample all the interesting foods you want!

Getting caught up on vaccinations

Certain diseases are more common in specific parts of the world. Foreign travelers are encouraged to get vaccinations against these infections whenever possible. Examples include COVID-19, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio, and seasonal influenza. Most people will already be vaccinated against the majority of these diseases, but it’s important to check with authorities before determining you’re ready to travel. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes a list of destinations with all recommended vaccinations for those traveling to those places.

Researching your destination

Watching a 15-minute segment on television might be enough to instigate your interest in visiting a faraway destination. But you should make an effort to learn more through additional research. The Wikipedia page for the city or country is a good place to start. From there, consider consulting the World Factbook provided online by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. This free guide provides valuable information regarding the culture, economy, geography, and history of every country around the world. If you still want to visit, purchase a reputable travel guide. Examples include Blue Guides, Bradt, Eyewitness, and Lonely Planet Travel Guidebooks.

Formulating a contingency plan

A lot can go wrong on an international trip, from flight cancellations to lost luggage to stolen travel documents. While chances are you’ll have a great time, it’s a good idea to formulate a contingency in case something goes wrong. For instance, always know where the closest embassy or consulate is located in case your passport is lost or stolen. Keep a list of hotels near the airport in case your flight gets canceled. Pack a few days’ worth of clothing in your carry-on to have something to wear if your checked bags are lost. These and other basic measures will keep one unfortunate incident from ruining your entire trip.

Remembering the essentials

The days leading up to a major trip overseas are filled with stress and anxiety as you run around town getting ready to leave. While you’d think there’s no way you’ll forget to pack the essentials, it’s easy for that to slip your mind. Write a checklist of essentials and tape it to the front of your luggage. Do not remove the checklist until you are certain every item is packed. From self-care supplies to medication to your favorite outfit, the last thing you want is to arrive at your destination only to discover you left them behind.

Whether for business, pleasure, or a combination of the two, overseas travel is an exciting experience. However, a lack of preparation can derail any hopes of having fun you had prior to your arrival. With this in mind, essential prep is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip.

Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, family, and travel.