Use This Template to Create a Health Crisis International Travel Checklist for Your Trip
International travel has always had its challenges, but even with the decline of COVID planning an overseas trip can seem overwhelming and other health crises can arise at a moment’s notice. Entry requirements for countries can also range widely, and keeping up with the latest information can be difficult. Travel restrictions can include vaccination requirements, testing requirements, and mask mandates that should be considered during trip planning. This is why having a checklist can help you organize your travel plans.
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International Travel Checklist During COVID and Other Health Crises
Having an international travel checklist for infectious disease outbreaks can help at-risk travelers feel more prepared about their trip plans. While not impossible, traveling to another country during COVID-19 or any other health crisis is not without its challenges. Sometimes this kind of travel is necessary, and outbreaks crop up frequently around the world.
We’ll be using the COVID-19 health crisis as an example for how to prepare for international travel to a region impacted by an infectious disease outbreak.
Different countries have different rules regarding travel restrictions and requirements during a health crisis. Let’s break down those two types of rules first:
- Travel restrictions are rules that determine who is allowed to enter a country. For example, some countries may only allow visitors to enter for essential travel or may restrict those coming from certain regions.
- Travel requirements include the documentation that is required to enter a country. For example, your destination country may require a passport or visa, proof of travel health insurance, proof of vaccinations, or other documentation to enter the country. Travelers returning to their home country often face fewer travel requirements, but they may still need to provide some documentation (like a proof of a negative COVID test) if they are coming from an at-risk region.
Technology can help keep you organized regarding these restrictions and requirements. Interactive maps that present current information regarding entry requirements by country and region are a huge asset.
So too are checklist apps that help us stay on top of the essentials that a health crisis might deem necessary (i.e., masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc.), as well as the usual items needed for international travel. From Ebola to COVID-19 to monkeypox, this page will help you formulate a travel checklist unique to your travel needs to ensure you don’t forget anything on your international trip.
How Do I Find Out About Health Risks?
Before determining what steps you need to take to protect yourself and follow local requirements, you’ll need to determine what kind of health risks you might encounter when traveling internationally.
Use the following steps to educate yourself on potential health risks and infectious disease outbreaks:
- U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories – The U.S. Department of State assigns each country with a travel advisory ranked from one to four. A level 1 travel advisory is the lowest advisory level for security and safety risk and advises travelers to “exercise normal precautions.” The highest travel advisory (4) is assigned to regions with a greater likelihood of life-threatening risks, and travelers are advised to not travel to these destinations.
View your destination’s travel advisory to learn about health risks in the region.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Notices – According to the CDC, travel health notices “inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues that impact travelers’ health.” Travel health notices are only assigned to certain regions that meet the criteria for impacting travelers' risk. Warnings range from a Level 1 (Practice Usual Precautions) to a Level 3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel).
See if the CDC has assigned your destination country a travel health notice.
PRO TIP! When researching health crises, ensure you are using reputable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the U.S. Department of State.
Requirements to Travel Abroad During COVID or Another Infectious Disease Outbreak
Worrying about travel restrictions and the changing landscape of entry requirements is completely understandable when planning a trip during a health crisis. While travelers typically need to present a valid passport and sometimes a visa to enter another country, there may also be essential travel documents COVID-19 or other illnesses have made necessary for entry.
Requirements like proof of an approved COVID vaccine required for international travel and yellow fever vaccine required if traveling from high risk areas is a necessity for many travelers wanting to visit certain parts of the world. Below are just a few of the requirements to travel abroad resulting from COVID and other health crises. Some countries may require a combination of these:
- Proof of vaccination (not all vaccines are considered acceptable by all countries)
- Documentation of a negative COVID test taken within a specified timeframe (not all test types are considered acceptable by all countries)
- Travel health insurance (some countries require tourists to purchase travel health insurance that meets certain requirements; others may require you to purchase their own health insurance for visiting tourists)
How to Determine International Travel Restrictions & Requirements
Many countries, including the U.S., continue to adjust their travel restriction policies in response to changing risk . For example, the U.S. currently requires non-citizen incoming travelers provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. That’s why it’s essential to check your intended destination’s international travel restrictions and documents required for air travel as a result of COVID or other health crises before your trip and again leading up to your international departure.
Use this interactive travel restrictions map from Kayak to easily access the information you need to be a prepared traveler. Simply select the country you are departing from, your destination country, and whether you are vaccinated against COVID-19. Then view travel restrictions, testing requirements, and more for your destination.
Be sure to click “See details” beside each type of restriction to get the full picture. Scroll down in the box to see additional details regarding visas, required documents, and any additional information.
PRO TIP! As you prepare for your trip and become comfortable with your destination country's requirements, don't forget to keep an eye on your home nation's restrictions and requirements too. You can see requirements for returning home at the end of your trip by clicking “Return” at the top of the travel restrictions box.
United States Travel Restrictions
Whether you are a foreign visitor to the United States or a returning citizen, you will need to be aware of the current United States travel restrictions and document requirements. Like other countries, the U.S. can adjust its international travel restrictions based on health crises around the world and other potential risks.
Current U.S. international travel restrictions require, as of December 30th, 2022, all foreign national air travelers (non-immigrants and non-citizens) to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the U.S. Exceptions are rare and may only apply to children under 18, medically exempt travelers, crewmembers of airlines, and others.
Current U.S. travel restrictions are subject to change, and it is important to stay up to date. That's why it is advisable to keep a close eye on the Travel Restrictions Map webpage. This interactive map allows travelers to stay on track with any changing U.S. travel restrictions as well as those for countries around the world.
Also be sure to stay on top of updates via the U.S. Department of State.
Health Crisis International Travel Packing List
A travel checklist pdf is an efficient way to keep track of items that you need to pack. A travel packing checklist is also a great way to keep an up-to-date list of items that still need to be purchased.
Below is a summary international travel packing list that may prove helpful when preparing for your next overseas trip. Feel free to use it as a travel packing list template when preparing for your trip.
- All required international travel documents with backup copies (see specific items below)
- Face mask (depending on the type of illness you are protecting yourself from)
- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes
- Travel Restrictions Map bookmarked on your phone, tablet, or laptop
- Outlet converters
- Chargers for all devices
- Portable Wi-Fi hotspot
- All medication (prescription and over the counter)
- Translation app
- First aid kit
There are numerous packing lists and checklists available online. We recommend creating a template that can be used for multiple trips. A customizable checklist based on destination type, or season of travel, can help make packing a breeze no matter where you are headed.
International Travel Documents Checklist
Creating an international travel documents checklist is an effective way to keep track of all the paperwork that you will need for your trip. (We also advise keeping a copy of all documents, whether digitally, in a separate location, or both.)
If you are asking yourself, "What documents do I need to travel?" you can see specifics for your destination here and use this information to modify your checklist.
In the meantime, here is a list of travel documents that are commonly required for international travel:
- Passport – Some countries require passports to be valid for several months past your travel date. Check your destination’s embassy or consulate website for more information.
- Visa – Some countries require you to apply for a visa to enter the country as well.
- Proof of Vaccination – Proof of vaccination may be required to all travelers entering a country or for all travelers who have recently visited a high risk area.
- Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test – As of March 30th, 2023, 47 countries require a negative COVID-19 test for unvaccinated travelers. Use our interactive map to determine whether your destination country has any testing requirements, and verify which tests are permitted if required. Also note the specified time frame in which you must take the test prior to departure.
- Proof of Travel Medical Insurance – Some countries require tourists to purchase travel health insurance that meets certain requirements. (Your insurance policy may provide you with a visa letter that highlights specific parts of your coverage to use as proof of coverage.) Other countries require you to purchase their own tourist health insurance.
- International Driver's License – If you plan to rent a car, make sure you are familiar with your destination’s driving rules and that you have the proper license.
This list is by no means exhaustive but is a starting point for creating your checklist for traveling during a health crisis. Be sure to do your research, as requirements may differ based on destination.
Travel Checklist App
A travel checklist app can take a lot of the guesswork out of packing for an international trip.
Check out these apps to help in your packing process:
- Pack – This app offers users the ability to make lists of things to pack and things to do. It is very customizable and allows you to categorize lists, such as designating a "Camping Trip" list. This template-based interface saves a lot of time and effort when it comes to getting organized for a trip.
- PackPoint - One of the best features of this app is how user-friendly the interface is. You need only enter a few details for your trip and the app does the rest! It even checks the weather at your destination.
- Packr - This responsive app uses artificial intelligence to learn your packing habits. Organize your packing based on your destination, the time of year, and the activities you’ve planned for your trip. We love that you can prepare for multiple destinations in one trip checklist.
Travel Checklist for International Students
If you are preparing for a semester abroad, it's important to have a travel checklist for international students ready too. You may need to update such a checklist to reflect CDC and U.S. Department of State advisory recommendations.
- Be sure that your passport is up to date and valid for an adequate length of time based on your travel plans (note that some countries require your passport validity to extend beyond your intended travel plans).
- Apply for and obtain any necessary visas.
- Obtain international student health insurance if it is required by your school, program, or visa or if your regular health insurance lacks adequate coverage for international travel.
- Schedule a physical exam prior to departure and complete all health-related documents required by your school.
- Get all required vaccinations, including a COVID vaccination.
- Have all prescriptions filled.
- Complete any waivers or other required paperwork.
- Determine the best option for phone data usage in the country you are going. This will include ensuring that your devices needed for schoolwork are compatible.
- Pack all necessary chargers and adapters.
- If you are a U.S. resident, don't forget to register with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan (STEP).
- Create copies of all important documents.
Research the entry requirements for the country you are studying in as well as your home country prior to your return. Also, be sure to know any requirements related to local or international disease outbreaks for the country in which you will be studying. Ignorance is no defense, and you may disrupt your education due to consequences related to non-compliance.
PRO TIP! Use this study abroad checklist to help you prepare for your trip. It will provide you with steps to take starting one year before your departure up to your arrival in your host country.
Be Sure to Explore These Related Resources:
- Create Your International Travel Packing List
- 11-Step Planning Guide to Traveling Internationally
- Top 50 Travel Sites to Prepare for Your Dream Trip
- What Countries Require Travel Insurance for Entry?
- Cancel for Any Reason Travel Insurance for COVID
- Here’s What Travel Advisories Mean for Your International Trip
- How to Pack a Suitcase More Efficiently
- Tips for Traveling Without Knowing the Language
- 21 Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling
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