Things To Take Care of Before Traveling Abroad
Seeing the world and having new experiences in other countries is one of the best ways to learn more about who you are. Being away from your native country is fun and exciting, but it takes a little preparation. Here are some of the most important things to take care of before traveling abroad:
- Visas and Passports: Check your visas or passport to make sure that they are up to date. The U.S. State Department recommends renewing your passport 9 months before it expires. Passport renewals can take up to 6 weeks to process. If you need your passport sooner, you can expedite the service by paying an extra fee.
- Depending on where you are traveling, you should check to see if you need a visa. Search here to see facts about your destination like crime, medical information, and more.
- If you’ll be renting a car, you should check to see if your Driver’s License will suffice, or if you need to get an International Driver’s License.
- Make a photocopy for your records and pack it separately from your actual passport or visa. Keep in mind that a photocopy is not legally valid, and you’ll need the actual document.
- Travel Warning or Travel Alert: Before you book your flight and hotel, look online to see if the government has issued any travel warnings or alerts. These are to notify U.S. citizens of any potential dangers that they could face when traveling abroad. Traveling can be fun, but there are potential pitfalls.
- A travel warning is for serious issues, such as civil war, ongoing terrorist attacks, and other dangers that have been going on for months to years.
- A travel alert is for less serious situations that are temporary. You should be aware of the existing situation in that country. Issues that call for an alert are things like a health alert of a recent outbreak, an election cycle that could end in strikes, and other demonstrations.
- Vaccinations: Being in a new environment can be a big shock for your immune system. Things that aren’t a problem in the USA can still be ongoing problems in other countries. Check with the CDC to see what immunizations are recommended for your intended travel.
- Register your trip: If you’ll be traveling to a remote area or to a country that is less developed, you should register your itinerary with the State Department. In case of an emergency, the U.S. government will know of your whereabouts and how to get in touch with you to bring you back to safety.
- Your wallet: Take one or two credit cards with you, as well as your debit or bankcard. Make sure to let the credit card company and bank aware of your travel plans. If not, they may freeze your accounts. Traveler’s checks are not always accepted, so paper money is the way to go. ATM’s can be found in even the most remote locations, but if you are wary of finding an ATM, withdrawal the amount of money you intend to spend before you leave. You can convert your dollar to the country’s standard currency at the airport when you arrive. ATMs will typically give you the best transaction fees, which is recommended.
- Packing: Look at the weather forecast for the time that you’ll be gone. You can look to see the average highs, lows, and expected rainfall. Don’t bring expensive jewelry and valuables that could make you a target for thieves. Never put valuables in checked bags, even if they are locked. Make sure to bring any prescription drugs and medications that you typically use.
- Other travel tips:
- Phone service: Call your current provider to see if they have any international plans to see which rate will work best for you. If you choose to not have a phone plan, then have a plan for how to get in touch with loved ones in case of an emergency.
- Research the culture: Different cultures find different things acceptable. Our country’s manners are not universally observed around the world. Check online to see what the country’s social norms are so that you don’t offend the people you meet. Traveling is always made better with new friends!
Traveling is a rich and rewarding experience, but to get the most out of your trip, make sure you plan ahead. By taking a few preliminary steps can increase your safety and leave you stress free if unplanned events happen. Make sure to take lots of pictures to stay in touch with your loved ones while you are gone. And most importantly… have fun!