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It’s about this time, the 3-month benchmark, that my travel OCD sets in. This is when I start going through my international travel checklist for Europe. I start narrowing down my trip checklist of sights to see and places I want to visit. By this point, you definitely should have your tickets to and from your beginning and ending country. It is the starting point for the checklist for travelers! Then comes the tedious part, scheduling. I use Google Drive to organize my trip’s schedule. I did mention I have travel OCD, right? Not to worry, this travel essentials checklist is here to help!
International Travel Checklist
You may be asking why do I need a checklist for traveling to another country? Well, cause you’re likely to forget something and I want to make sure your trip is perfect! As a note, you can use this list as a backpacking travel checklist as well. Don’t worry. You can handle this. At the 3-month point, you really only have to get some basics locked down at this point. Starting with the decision of whether or not to skip around to other countries in Europe. To help you, here’s my international travel checklist for Europe.
Starting Your Checklist for Travelers
When I booked my flight for England, I also decided I wanted to see Rome. I wanted to stay for three nights. Why? You’ll find out later in this article. Since the most logical way to get to Rome from the Cotswolds was to fly, I researched flights from London to Rome and then booked. Travel essentials checklist tip! Book flights ahead of time so you can get better deals and allow for more options.
Now taking a flight to another country isn’t always the best or only option. Depending on how much time you have, you can take a train, bus, etc. For the sake of this example, I had to research what train I was taking from the Cotswolds to the London airport. Even if you don’t plan on taking a train to the airport, you should research how long it takes by car or whichever sort of transportation you’re taking. Plotting this time out ahead will help to make sure you’re not late for your flight!
If you instead want to take a train or bus to your next destination, this is something to book ahead of time to get better deals and more options. If it’s a high in demand route, it’s also safer to book in advance, so you don’t get miss going to that other country or get stuck with a flight time that sucks. Not a great way to start your trip! So please add this to your international travel checklist! I know for Greece the hopper flights between islands are more plentiful during the summer months as it’s high tourist season. However, in the winter months, there are fewer flights.
Timing Your Travels in Europe
For example’s sake, say the earliest train I could take to the airport left at 7 am, the train takes 3 hours to get to the airport (transfers and such). So the earliest flight I should take is 11 am. Always leave at least an hour for yourself, if not more. This is a must for your international travel checklist!
Travel essentials checklist tip! Train tickets sometimes don’t book out very far, so make sure to keep an eye out for when you’re date does go on sale.
Booking Budget Accommodation
What’s next on your trip checklist? Once you’ve decided where you’re going to be during your trip, you should find some budget accommodation. I use Hostel World to do my research, add it to your backpacking travel checklist as it’s the gold standard for researching hostels. Travel essentials checklist tip! Sometimes, if the hostel has its own website (e.g., YHA) they may have a membership program you can sign up for and receive a discount. Follow your chosen hostel or hotel’s social media channels or newsletter to stay in the know about deals and sales.
For hotels, I’ve used Google to compare different sites as it shows a wide array of budget accommodations. Aggregator sites don’t always show the same hotels, so it’s best to look at Google first. Hotels.com does have a really excellent program, though. For every ten nights you book, you get a free reward night if they have the hotel or hostel you like I’d recommend booking with them to start collecting nights! The value of your reward night will be the average price of the ten nights you collect. I’m nearly up to their gold program!
Trip Checklist Note: From Nov 27, 2019, a fee of $5.00 will be applied to each reward night redeemed at Hotels.com. There’s no fee if you redeem on their app. As long as you book and stay within 12 months of your last completed booking, your nights won’t expire!
Book Your Hotel Ahead of Time
If you are booking your hotel or hostel, especially in the summer season, you should get these in advance as they book up quickly. Booking late can also drive up prices as a number of the deals will already be taken. You’ll also have a more extensive selection the further you book ahead. For last-minute deals, should you need them, check out sites like Hotel Tonight as they sometimes still have good deals for budget accommodations.
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Check Your Passport
Checking your passport is on my travel essentials checklist! Does it expire soon? If so, you may need to renew it before you go on your trip. I had a friend who was headed to Malaysia. Right before he left, he saw that his passport was expiring in three months. He was there for a while for work and it needed to have six months’ worth of validity still. So we had to put a rush on his passport and pay through the nose for it. Don’t do this! This time frame varies by where you’re headed, so make sure to check this for your particular vacation.
Get an International Driver’s Licence
Do you plan on driving internationally? Depending on where you are headed you may need to get an international driver’s license. Don’t worry. This isn’t too complicated for your trip checklist. If you’re in the USA and have AAA, you can head to their website or a location near you to apply for an international driving permit. AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. that is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an international driving permit (IDP). The application is $20, plus the cost of the passport photos, which are usually about $15 at your local pharmacy like CVS. Making it a grand total of $35. Not too bad if you’re in need to get an international driver’s license.
Saving Time and Money with a Tourist Pass
Now that I’ve kept you waiting, why three nights in Rome? Well, I only had a limited time, but the real reason is that I did my research on what I’d like to see and came across the Omnia Card. The card is a tourist pass, which is good for three days, so I figured I could do the big tourist attractions on my wishlist! Besides, if you’ve ever been on vacation with me, you know I can move fast! All the attractions covered on the tourist pass are listed on their website. The wonderful thing about tourist passes is that it’s like a fast pass at Disneyland, you get to cut the lines. They also sometimes include bus tours, which can save you from some extra walking or transportation costs. An awesome checklist for travelers tip!
I’m not a huge bus tour fan, but since I was only there for a short amount of time, it helped me to see a lot in a little amount of time. It also acted as a discount card to other museums and exhibits. Do note, that if you’re a student, it may be cheaper just to buy tickets with your student ID but do check out the details before deciding this for your international travel checklist. This goes for other tourist passes as well, such as the Paris Museum Pass.
Getting Tickets for Events and Attractions
Lastly on your trip checklist, get tickets for high demand events. I really enjoyed going to see the ‘Tempest’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater when I was in London two summers ago. So when I found out I would be returning, I decided to go again. This time seeing ‘As You Like It’. These events sell out quickly, especially if they have a recognizable actor in the cast. So make sure to buy it asap!
I did the yard tickets last time, which was great. However, I figure this time I would have just spent three days walking around Rome, so I’ll be tired. I caved and bought tickets in one of the galleries. By Broadway standards, the tickets are still pretty darn cheap, so I didn’t feel too bad about this splurge. Besides, they have the BEST actors in their plays, so you know it’ll be a fantastic show! This checklist for travelers tip obviously goes for other events, attractions, concerts, etc. that you may want to see or do.
Checking Off That International Travel Checklist
I hope this travel essentials checklist helps you get ready for your trip! Please feel free to comment below or email questions! As I said, I have a bit of travel OCD, so this is really, truly how I go about my planning my trips. So I hope my international travel checklist for Europe is of help to you!
More tips on planning your vacation: Easy Travel Itinerary Planner for International Vacations
Before your trip make sure to check: Things You Need to Do Before Traveling Anywhere
Tips on Packing: Top Tips for Packing The Right Way for Your Next Trip
Packing for Europe in Summer: How to Pack Light for Europe in Summer
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