International travel is exciting, but it's also a little overwhelming in terms of packing. What you bring with you on an international cruise does not entail the same checklist you create for a local trip. While your destination plays the biggest factor in determining what you pack on your next trip, an international travel checklist can help you determine what you will need overall. You have the option to create a more in-depth international travel checklist when your cruise and any shore excursions are booked.

International travel occurs anytime you leave the country in which you reside in another country. It doesn't matter if you're cruising from Florida to the Bahamas or flying to Italy from California to board a ship and enjoy a cruise vacation. You're headed overseas, and there are certain things you must have with you no matter which country you visit. Packing clothing and accessories is important, but this international travel checklist is designed to ensure you're not left in a foreign country without proper documentation, finances, and other details.

Cruising 101

international travel checklist - Cruising 101

Cruising is a streamlined and enjoyable way to travel the world. You get to experience more than one country or location at a time without the hassle of packing and unpacking at different hotels or booking various modes of transportation between cities. Travel time is more enjoyable aboard a large ship than it is cramped in a plane or other mode of transportation. Enjoying the pool, casino, endless buffets, and entertainment while you're between cities or countries is preferable. If you've never cruised before, however, it can be overwhelming.

Cruising Is Affordable

One of the biggest reasons people travel on a cruise ship rather than other means of transportation is the cost. It's far less expensive to board a ship and eat, sleep, and play in the same place for one price. You pay for your trip ahead of time, and everything but alcohol and certain activities is included in the price you pay. Your price includes all your meals aboard your ship and your entertainment. You pay an additional fee for sodas and alcohol, and excursions outside of the ship also cost additional money.

You Have More Options

Cruising allows you to visit more than one place at a time. If you want to visit Italy, you can go to more than one city without paying to stay in different hotels, drive or fly to new cities, and without paying out of pocket for every meal you have. It's all included, and you have more options in terms of seeing different countries and experiencing local activities.

Ships offer excursions planned for by the boat. You're touring with an established and reputable company, eliminating some risks you would encounter if you were to choose a tour on your own that is not ship sponsored. While you can book your own shore excursions or explore on your own, it's convenient to enjoy your ship's excursions knowing you are safe and taken care of.

Every cruise line is different, but you get to choose which one works for you. They design each cruise ship to provide enjoyment for passengers by offering decadent meals, different stateroom categories, and onboard entertainment. Once you choose where you want to go, you also get to choose which ship you take based on the port you leave from. Many ships from various cruise lines call certain ports home, and that means you have options in booking your cruise vacation.

Finally, the best thing about cruising is you get to see countries and cities you've never been to. Cruise ships aren't just for the Caribbean, though it's easy for people to assume they are. Cruise ships visit Alaska, Australia, Europe, Mexico, and cities across the world. You pick where you want to go, and you get to see more of the world on your ship.


Things to Consider

international travel checklist - Things to Consider

Before you book your cruise, and before you worry too much about an international travel checklist, you must ask yourself a list of questions.

  • What do you want from your vacation?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Who are you traveling with?
  • What kind of budget are you working with?

What Do You Want from Your Cruise Vacation?

Do you want to see the world, relax on the pool deck with a fruity drink in your hand, or do you want to have fun in the sun wherever the boat takes you? You must know where you want to go and what you want to do before you book a cruise, or you might end up on a ship that doesn't offer what you want. If you want fun in the sun and on the beach, booking an Alaskan cruise is not right for you. The same might be true of an Italian cruise depending on the time of year. Know what you want.

Where Do You Want To Go?

Now you know what you want, where do you want to go? If, for example, you want to spend time in the sun and enjoy the tropics, you can decide from cruises to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, and more. You can choose where you want to go based on no other factors other than you want to go there, or you can consider the departure port. If you don't live near a port, you must decide where you want to fly or drive to get to a port. If you live near a port, you might go somewhere solely because you can get on the ship close to home.

What Do You Want To Do?

What you want to do on your cruise is another factor to consider. If you want to spend all your time on the ship, you might not care if your cruise includes a few fun days at sea. If you don't like to be on the boat as much as you like to be on an island somewhere, consider how many fun days at sea you get on a ship and pick one that has fewer.

Who Are You Traveling With?

If you have kids with you, you want a ship that caters to families. Some cruise lines are more family friendly than others, and you want one that does allow kids to have just as much fun. Pools for kids, kid's activities, and kid's clubs, rooms, and fun are important. If you don't have kids with you, it might not matter to you what kind of childcare is on a ship. If you're traveling with a young group who wants to party all night, you need to find a ship that has nightclubs and late-night entertainment. Some cruise lines are more refined and upscale, and they cater some to a younger crowd.

What Kind Of Budget Are You Working With?

It's important to know what you're working with as a budget. Most cruise lines allow you to put down a small deposit and pay off your cruise a little at a time until a few months before you depart. This makes it more affordable if you are on a budget. You can also get the same cruise for a lot less money if you book during the fall. Most cruises are more affordable from the end of August until Christmas. Holiday weeks are typically more expensive for cruises. You can stretch your budget further if you're willing to travel during the off-peak season.


The Ultimate International Travel Checklist

international travel checklist - The Ultimate International Travel Checklist

Your international travel checklist includes many things that are optional, some that are not, and it also depends on where you are going.

  • Consider the time of the year and the weather common during this time
  • Consider the excursions you want to enjoy and check to see what you need for those
  • Know what kind of theme nights or formal nights occur on your ship
  • Know where you are going and what you should wear when you get there

Must-Have Items

You cannot travel without your photo identification and either a passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate. Laws have changed in the travel industry, and you are no longer permitted to use your driver's license and birth certificate on all cruises. There is only one exception to this rule. If you are departing from a United States port and returning to the same port, you can use your U.S. birth certificate and photo identification to board.

Any other cruises require you use a valid passport. You should know many countries require you have a passport that's valid for six months or more after your arrival. This means you may need to renew your passport prior to departure if your expiration date falls into those parameters at your destination.

If you use a birth certificate, it must be a certified copy with a raised seal. If you do not have one, you must get one from any local health department in the state where you were born. You can do this in person, online, or even over the phone and through the mail in many states. If you use your birth certificate on a closed-loop cruise, you must understand you could end up stuck in another country without a passport. If you miss the boat before it leaves port in another country or you have a family emergency at home and need to get back right away, you cannot fly anywhere without a passport.

Considerations To Make

Most cruise lines have at least one formal night per cruise. Longer cruises have more than one formal night. Know what to expect before you board your ship. Packing should include outfits that fit the formal night requirements, and you should include considerations for other meals each day, too.

If you are enjoying excursions off the ship, be sure you have the correct apparel. Some excursions require you have very specific footwear or other apparel. Know what you need before you pack. Your excursion confirmation should tell you what you need to include on your international travel checklist.

Include a carry-on bag. All cruise ships take your luggage and deliver it to you on the first day. However, it might take several hours before your luggage appears in your room. If you want to enjoy the pool or another activity prior to your luggage arriving, you should have a carry-on bag with necessities. A diaper bag for children, extra clothes for kids, bathing suits for the family, sunscreen, your chargers, and anything else you might need right away should be in this bag.

This bag is also helpful to have when you depart your ship to go home. Your luggage is left outside your stateroom late the night before your cruise ends, and you are left to carry your personal items off the ship. You'll want to have a change of clothes, toiletries, and anything else you need overnight and a bag to store it and your dirty pajamas in when you leave the boat.

Finally, get to know your destination. If you're going to Alaska, you won't need a lot of swimsuits and resort wear. If you're going to Italy, you might not need as many swimsuits. If you're going to the Caribbean, you might not need your boots. Know what you need before you leave so you can personalize your checklist.

Packing Checklist

  • Swimsuits for the pool, hot tub, or beach
  • Coverups to wear with your swimsuits
  • Chargers for your electronics
  • Batteries for your camera
  • A cardigan or lightweight sports coat for cooler nights (even on tropical cruises)
  • Athletic shoes for working out, walking, hiking, and some excursions on the shore
  • Athletic wear for certain excursions, the gym, and health classes on board
  • Formal wear for the number of formal nights on your cruise
  • Cocktail attire for other nights on the ship
  • Underwear for every day of your trip
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats
  • Socks for shoes that need them
  • Jeans and casual pants
  • Tops that are semi-dressy
  • Pajamas
  • A robe
  • Flip flops for the beach
  • Sandals
  • Formal night shoes
  • Hats
  • Evening bags
  • A pool bag
  • First aid kit with band-aids, medication, sunscreen, mosquito spray, and any prescription medication
  • Toiletries such as toothbrushes, makeup, hair accessories, shampoo and conditioner, a razor, makeup remover, baby wipes or sanitary wipes
  • Q-Tips
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lint brush
  • Needle and thread
  • Safety pins
  • Perfume
  • Moisturizer
  • Deodorant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Dental floss
  • Toothpaste
  • Curling iron, straightener, hair dryer
  • Hairspray
  • Cologne
  • Aftershave
  • Nail file and clippers
  • Extra nail polish if you paint your nails
  • Power adapter
  • Children’s items such as extra diapers, wipes, cups, snacks, formula, baby food, bottle cleaner, blankets, stuffed animals, diaper rash cream, pain reliever, hats, books, and toys

Before you finish packing, include a few additional items. Pack a large trash bag in which to keep your dirty laundry, so it doesn't touch your clean laundry when it's time to pack up and go home. Bring a few small grocery bags or zipper bags for items you might want to separate from other things, such as dry clean only clothing or wet swimsuits you worry might bleed onto other laundry in the bag.

Entertainment such as books and magazines are also helpful. If you plan on working on the ship, bring your laptop and charger.

Other Important Items And Considerations

Keep all your important items on you when you travel. Pack your passport, birth certificate, photo ID, and all your money and credit cards in the bag you carry on the ship. Items such as your passport and cruise documents should be kept together where they are easily accessible during the boarding and check-in process.

Money and credit cards should be kept on you, but not in the same place. Keep them in separate bags so losing one bag doesn't mean losing all your money. Do not carry a lot of cash, but do keep a few small bills on hand in case you want to leave additional tips or you want to pay for items off the ship. Your credit card is helpful to have, but keep your card number and the phone number for the credit card company on hand in case you must report it missing or stolen.

Completing Your International Travel Checklist

international travel checklist - titanic pose

Now you know what to pack for your cruise, but there is one more important piece of information to add to your international travel checklist. Call your credit card company before boarding your ship. They must know you are traveling internationally, and they must know when and where you are going. Without this information, the card company might assume your card is being used fraudulently, and they could shut it down and make it impossible to use. Cell phone service is spotty on cruise ships, and there are few things as frustrating as realizing your card has been deactivated and you don't have any way to call and reactivate it.

Your cruise ship should have an online packing tool to help you plan for your cruise. Use it to help you personalize your international travel checklist. You don't want to over-pack because cruise staterooms aren't the most spacious, but you don't want to under pack without a way to get what you need. Ships have stores on board, but the cost of purchasing your toiletries on board is far more expensive than bringing them from home.

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