International travel can be one of the most fulfilling and exciting things of your life, but it can also be one of the most frustrating if you don’t have your paperwork in order. Whether you’re hopping across the globe on a week-long honeymoon or you’re spending a longer block of time studying overseas, you need to keep the following documents with you.
The obvious one, right? Make sure your passport is in your carry-on luggage (or on your person) and not in your checked luggage or you could find yourself in a lurch at the airport.
Different countries have different visa requirements based on the purpose of your visit, so do your homework and get your visas taken care of.
Immunization and medical records
Bring copies of your immunization records to prove that you aren’t a medical risk to your destination location. If you’re planning on staying for any length of time, your medical records are also good to have in case anything happens that lands you in front of a doctor.
An American driver’s license might not entitle you to drive in your destination country, but it will be a valid form of identification. If you want to do some driving while you’re globetrotting, consider getting an International Driving Permit (IDP). Valid in over 150 nations, it contains your name, photo and other identifying information in ten languages, so it can serve as ID almost anywhere. For it to be valid, it needs to be accompanied by your regular driver’s license.
Proof of insurance
If you’re vacationing for a short time, you need some basic international insurance coverage to protect you and your family in case of an accident. If you’re studying abroad, you can purchase special international student insurance to cover any unexpected medical emergencies for a worry-free trip.
Flight, hotel and car rental information
Remember that luggage can get lost, so keep all the information about reservations and layovers you need to keep from getting stranded in an airport somewhere.
You’ll need prescriptions to show that the drugs you’re taking into a country are for legitimate medical purposes and are legitimately yours, but you’ll also want to have the prescriptions on hand if something goes awry and you need to replenish your supply.
To be on the safe side, make copies of all the most important documents — your passport, visas, proof of insurance and driver’s license — and pack them in your checked luggage. If some of your documents are lost or stolen while you’re traveling, having these copies can expedite the creation of new documents without ruining your vacation.
Except for the copies, none of these documents really have a place in your checked luggage while you’re traveling. Once you reach your destination and start vacationing (or studying) in earnest, you’ll really only need to keep your driver’s license, passport, visa and proof of insurance on your person.