Check the local weather and seasons

You know yourself better than anyone, so if you like wearing sweaters in 80-degree weather be prepared and pack for how you’d deal with weather and seasons in your home town.

Get your passport!


Start the process early. We recommend at least 12 weeks before departure. You’re thinking, “wait, doesn’t it only take 4-6 weeks to get a passport?” True, it takes that long to receive your passport, but only once you’ve applied. The application itself can require some work, so give yourself a buffer. The last thing you want to be doing one week from departure is stressing if you’ll get it on time.

Everything you need to know to apply for a U.S. passport is here.

  • Fill out your form

  • Collect supporting documents

  • Get your photo

  • Make a payment

  • Submit your application

Visit your doctor about vaccinations


Each doctor provides different advice, so it’s best to see your primary care physician to discuss your trip and find out if you need any vaccinations. Before you visit the doctor, consult the Travel’s Health section of the CDC to see what vaccinations they advise getting for your destination.

Getting ready for your TRIP

Learn the local customs

There’s no need to be fluent in Vietnamese or Spanish, but learning how to say ‘please’ and ‘thanks’ is a big part of traveling responsibly. Being polite goes a long way in new places and doing it with a smile goes even further. Lonely Planet have a huge collection of travel related content to help you get to know wherever you’re headed!

Tip #1

If you have a passport, make sure it has at least 6 months validity beyond your planned visit. Some countries require it.

Step 2: Check out your packing list

Each trip will require destination-specific items. However, here are a few things every good traveler brings no matter where they go:

  • Your packing list. Often overlooked, it ensures everything goes back with you.

  • Passport. See above.

  • Identification. Always good to have an extra photo copy of your passport to carry with you.

  • Underwear. Pack 5 pairs, wash when needed.

  • High performance socks. like these!

  • Comfy pair of walking shoes. These are a must.

  • Ibuprofen, Band-Aids and Gaviscon. The traveler’s trifecta.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.

  • Shampoo, conditioner or soap. Pick one.

  • Medications, including contraceptives. Have an extra prescription on hand.

  • Tampons or pads. Not all feminine hygiene is made equal or available everywhere.

  • Wet and dry laundry bag. For all those dirty undies and stinky, wet socks.

  • Water bottle. Make sure it can handle cold and boiling water.

  • Rain jacket. An often overlooked essential, we think these are the bee’s knees.

  • Clothing. If it can't be worn for 3 days, washed in a bucket and dried on a tree, don't pack it.

  • Manners. They go along way with a smile, so don’t forget that either.

Tip #2

Don’t break new shoes in on a trip and get good hiking socks. Blisters aren’t fun.

Step 1: Get yourself Travel Ready

Step 3: Packing Your Bags

How to pack your carry-on

Keep it simple. General rule is one pair of extra clothes and only what you need on the plane:

  • Plane tickets

  • Passport

  • Extra identification

  • Bank cards & money 

  • Medications

  • Water bottle

  • Sweatshirt (but don’t pack this, wear it)

  • Wet wipes

  • A book (or some sort of entertainment) 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.

  • And don’t underestimate sleep aids like earplugs, a neck pillow and your favorite eye mask


Just keep it light. Remember, you have to carry your big backpack around too. 

How to pack your large backpack/duffel bag

  1. Lay out all of the things you plan to take on your bed. This is a great way to make sure you have everything.

  2. Then organize it by weight, grouping small items (such as sunblock and soap) in ziplock bags. Always store food and liquid in bags to prevent spills. Trust us on this; it’s not pleasant sleeping in a wet sleeping bag after a long haul flight.

  3. When loading your pack, be sure to follow distribution guidelines below. Lightweight items should be stuffed at the bottom of the backpack first—things like your sleeping bag and other light sleep items. After those, pack mid-weight items like clothes and thongs, followed by heavy stuff like your toiletries.

Hot tip #3 

Give your bag a trial run. If you can’t lug it around the house, you need to leave some items behind.




Do I need to have any vaccinations? 

Unearthed recommends you seek professional medical advice regarding vaccinations well in advance of your departure date. The Traveler’s Health section of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have been providing expert advice to travelers for many years. The CDC not only provide you with general health advice for traveling overseas, but they will also provide vaccination recommendations specific to your destination. You can also seek advice regarding vaccinations from a travel clinic specifically experienced giving travel health advice.

Do I need to organize a visa before departure? 

Depending on your destination and type of passport, you may need to obtain a visa for your trip. It is the responsibility of the traveler to obtain the appropriate visa before departure. Visa information for U.S. passport holders can be found on the U.S. Department of State website by searching for your destination, then opening the Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements. If you are not traveling on a U.S. passport, please visit the destination Embassy/Consulate website to check the immigration formalities that relate to your passport.

Is my insurance covered? 

Yep—included in every Unearthed Program is our premium, comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Our policy covers emergency evacuation, cancellation due to injury or illness prior to departure, medical assistance for injury or illness while overseas and also provides access to a global network of 24-hour medical services and advice. Insurance limits and policy coverage details are available at Core Travel Insurance.

Should I change my money into the local currency before departure? 

Unearthed will provide advice to travelers on the best options for carrying currency or accessing personal funds while overseas. The advice is dependent on the country the team is traveling to. For some destinations, it is best to carry U.S. dollars and change to the local currency upon arrival. For other destinations it may be easier to obtain foreign currency prior to travel or to withdraw cash from a cash passport or ATM card. As always, Unearthed will be there to guide you along the way.

Should I learn the local language? 

While it helps to brush up on key phrases in your destination’s local language, you certainly don’t need to become fluent. Though English is often widely-recognized (particularly in the larger cities), you’ll be amazed at how well you can communicate non-verbally if need be.

What happens if I get injured or ill prior to departure? 

If you have to cancel your trip due to injury or medical reasons, rest-up because your insurance has you covered. *Non-medical related cancellations excluded; check policy for details.

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