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Serving members worldwide since 1935.
Henry MolinaWritten by:
Henry Molina
Lafayette Federal Credit Union
Vice President, Business Development

Traveling abroad can be a fun adventure, but will certainly require some time and research to plan. From passports to travel insurance, the list of things you need to prepare ahead of time can be lengthy. 

Follow our international travel checklist to make sure you’re ready for everything - and can enjoy the fruits of your labor!

International Travel Checklist


travel money

1. Make Sure Your Documentation Is In Order

Before you even begin to dream about your overseas vacation, you first and foremost need to make sure you have all the necessary documentation for traveling abroad. You don’t want to plan the trip of a lifetime, only to realize you’re missing important paperwork!

Start by checking your passport and make sure that it hasn’t expired. Also, be certain that it won’t expire within six months of returning from your trip. 

If it has expired, begin the renewal process way in advance of your trip. Receiving a new passport can take timeOpens in New Window, a routine application can take 8-11 weeks and an expedited application can take 5-7 weeks (plus mailing time). Verify that your name and address are correct on all documents, especially if you’ve had status changes, such as getting married or moved to a new address. 

2. Research Destinations and Entry Requirements

The fun part of planning an international trip is deciding where to go and what to do while you’re there. However, you should research entry requirements for your desired destination. Countries may require varying types of documentation, or may have different entry procedures altogether You don’t want to have your trip derailed by unexpected red tape, so make sure you fully understand all requirements before your trip

3. Set Your Budget

Once you have finalized your destination and the types of adventures you want to have while there, you should have a good idea of the funds you’ll need to make it happen. You should set your budget and begin saving so you will be all set for expenditures related to your vacation.

A Lafayette Federal Savings AccountOpens in New Window is the perfect way to get started with accumulating those necessary funds. By saving regularly ahead of time, you can reach your end goal without breaking the bank. Our Share and Preferred Savings Accounts earn high dividends that can help you reach your goals even faster.

Additionally, the Preferred Savings Account limits you to only six withdrawals per quarter. This will help you resist any temptation to use that money before you head out on your vacation. 

4. Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row

You’ll want to be prepared with a variety of payment options while you’re abroad. While cash is a widely accepted form of currency, it can also be stolen with no way to trace or recover it. This is a major reason why credit and debit cards are so popular with international tourists. Unfortunately, some cards have transaction fees tied to them, which can adversely affect your budget. Lafayette Federal takes this into account and offers credit and debit cards that work with your vacation plans instead of against them.

Bonus: A debit card from Lafayette Federal is a great option because it allows you to access surcharge-free ATMs all over the world. This means you won’t be spending unexpected dollars by withdrawing cash to visit places that don’t accept cards.

5. Take Care of Bills Ahead of Time

The last thing you need to worry about when you’re out of the country is unpaid bills. Tip: consider pausing services (like internet and cable) to save a few dollars. This can add up, especially if you’re taking an extended period of vacation

For your remaining outstanding bills, make sure you have auto-pay set up or pay before you leave. It’s no fun to be in the middle of an exciting vacation and suddenly remember you forgot to pay your electric bill. No one wants to pause vacation time to deal with service providers and late fees. 

6. Let Your Financial Institution Know Your Travel Plans

You should let your financial institution know your travel plans any time you plan to go on vacation, especially if you’re traveling abroad. This will avoid having your cards flagged or canceled due to an inaccurate fraud alert. 

Make sure you reach out to each financial institution that you have an account with. Crossing this off your checklist before setting out on your trip may prevent a major issue later on.

7. Register With Your Embassy

Letting your embassy or consulate know your plans make it possible for them to contact you if there’s an emergency. 

Before your go, make sure to print AND email yourself a copy of the embassy’s address. That way, if you lose your possessions or something happens to your phone, you’ll still be able to make your way to the embassy to hopefully resolve your lost belongings. 

8. Share Your Itinerary With Close Friends and Family

Safety should be at the top of your checklist for traveling abroad. Be sure to tell your close friends and family where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Leave a detailed itinerary and make sure to let them know if anything changes. Having access to this information will make it easier to get in touch with you, should an emergency arise.

Additionally, as tempting as it may be, don’t post the details of your trip on social media. Unfortunately, this information can be a gold mine to thieves. They can use it to try to get access to your home or even your identity. Resist the temptation and post once you’ve gotten home - and with no personal information that could be attractive to a fraudster.

9. Know How to Contact Home

Before leaving, you’ll want to make sure you know how you’ll be able to reach your friends and family back home. Find out if your cell phone carrier has options for international calling or texting and how much it will cost. Check if the places you’re staying have internet access and/or computers.

There are numerous apps that allow you to make international calls free of charge. If you’re planning to use these, make sure you download them before leaving. Try them out, too. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to make your first call home and not being able to figure out how it works. 

10. Download Your Entertainment

Traveling involves some downtime, so make sure you bring things along for entertainment. Books, music, movies, and games are great ways to spend the time as you wait for your plane to board or when you’re in the air.

One thing to keep in mind is you might not always have access to the internet, so make sure to download your entertainment before leaving for your vacation. 

11. Check Your Packing List (Twice)

This checklist for traveling abroad isn’t the only one you should be going through. You also want to make sure you check your packing list! And then check it again! Imagine forgetting something vital like your phone or passport.

Although many items can be purchased, no one wants to worry about getting a new toothbrush or razor while on vacation. So make sure you check your packing list at least twice before your getaway. 

12. Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, even the best-planned trips can take unexpected turns. Being prepared with travel insurance can provide you with peace of minds. 

Insurance is something many people don’t think about when planning their trip abroad, and this is where a Lafayette Federal Credit CardOpens in New Window can really help out. Our card offers free travel accident insurance - up to $1,000,000 - when you book tickets on planes, ships, trains, and other common carriers.  

You may also want to consider buying a travel medical insurance plan. These supplemental plans can offer reimbursement and help fill in any insurance gaps for medical emergencies, evacuations, transport, etc. 

Jump-Start Your Vacation Savings With Lafayette Federal Credit Union

Planning for an international trip can be overwhelming, but if you’ve taken the measures listed above you will be in a good position to enjoy a great vacation. 

At Lafayette Federal Credit Union, we provide financial services that make traveling anywhere in the world easy and convenient. We make managing your money abroad simple so you have one less thing to worry about. 

Not a Lafayette Federal member yet? You can become a member by completing an online membership applicationOpens in New Window.

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