packingTraveling abroad for the first time can be one of the biggest milestones of your life, but it can also be one of the most complicated. Luckily, traveling is just one of those experiences that you get better at the more you do it. However, despite all that you have to get done before take-off, preparing for a trip abroad can actually be fun if you stay focused on your final destination. To set yourself up for a great start, be sure to bring along these top four travel must-haves.

1. Official Documents

Traveling requires a lot more paperwork than you think. On top of your boarding pass and driver’s license, you’ll need a passport and possibly a visa for traveling outside of the country. These documents can take a while to process, so you’ll want to start the application process as soon as possible to make sure they’re ready before your departure date. Double check the requirements of your destination country to find out if proof of vaccination is necessary as well.

2. Travel Insurance

When you’re daydreaming about your exotic overseas vacation, the chance of an illness or injury is probably the last thing on your mind. Although you might go through the entire trip without needing insurance, stick with the motto “better safe than sorry” by purchasing Atlas travel international insurance. When comparing the risk of racking up an outrageous overseas hospital bill with the cost of travel insurance, the solution is a no-brainer.

3. Versatile Clothing

As much as you probably want to show off your unique American fashion sense, this isn’t exactly practical for overseas travel. When packing, make sure to include only those items that you can easily mix and match or dress up and down during the trip. Pack just one pair of casual shoes, one pair of hiking boots and one pair of dressy shoes for the entire trip. Include plenty of t-shirts and just one outfit for special activities like outdoor exploration and concert trips. Remember that you might even end up purchasing clothing while you’re there, so try not to take up too much space in your luggage.

4. Recording Devices

You might want more than just a digital camera to fully capture your overseas experience. Consider investing in a video camera or high-quality smartphone to take animated footage of your trip, so you can preserve any cool audio you hear. Keep a journal of your experiences to enjoy periods of reflection while you’re abroad, while allowing you to revisit these memories as often as you’d like.

From the “you legally can’t go without this” list to the “you’ll kick yourself if you forget this” list, preparing to travel abroad will require a bit of personalization as you pack. What’s important to you may not be as important to another traveler, but practicality tends to apply to all adventurers. So feel free to add your own must-haves, and get your bag packed early so you can dream about your vacation with zero stress.