WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Good planning leads to a positive travel experience. Whether you are traveling Domestic or International there are a list of things you should do and pack to ensure your travels are as stress free as possible.
- Do some research on your travel destination. Do you need a visa and/or passport?
- Some countries have an entrance and/or exit fee to travel there, and must be paid before you enter the country. Without a copy of this receipt showing that you paid the fee, you will not be allowed in the country. You can check the Consular Information Program under Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements on any country's page for information on whether a country charges these fees or not.
- If a passport is required, make sure your passport is valid and will be for a minimum of at least 6 months after entering the country. If it is not, you should renew your passport before your trip.
- Check for any Travel Warnings and/or alerts that may be in place for your travel destination.
- Check for any health warnings and/or alerts that may be in place for your travel destination. The WHO and CDC provide information on vaccine recommendations and any other health precautions you should take for your trip.
- Check what your travel destination laws are regarding traveling with a child. If you are traveling alone with a child some countries require custody documents or a written consent from the parents.
- Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP before you travel. This will help the State Department contact and assist you in the event of an emergency.
- You should have health insurance when you are traveling internationally. If your health care plan does not cover you while you are traveling abroad, you should consider taking out a Supplemental Health Insurance Plan in case of an emergency. Doctors and hospitals over seas require cash payment up front and medical evacuation is very expensive.
- If you are planning on driving while traveling abroad you will need an International Driving Permit and insurance. Most countries do not recognize a US drivers license as a valid driving permit. You can obtain the driving permit from either AAA or the National Auto Club. Car rental companies usually offer the insurance necessary for driving internationally.
- Make multiple copies of your travel documents. Leave one with a friend or family member at home and carry the other one with you separate from all your documents in a safe place in case of loss or theft.
- Get a letter from your doctor that states all of the medication you take (even over the counter). Some countries have strict laws regarding medication. Make sure you pack enough of your medication to cover the duration of your trip and then some in case of an emergency and you are unable to get home on the planned date. Do not check your medication, carry all of your medication in a carry on.
- Carry on you at all times all of the contact information for the nearest US Consulate and/or US Embassy as well as the contact information for the Washington, D.C. offices. These agencies are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide help in case of an emergency.
- Electrical outlets and electrical currents are different all over the world. You will need to buy an adapter and possibly a transformer to use your electronic devices abroad.
- Call your bank and credit card companies and let them know when and where you will be traveling, to avoid possible freezing of your accounts because of foreign charges. And, verify that the cards you will be using will work in the country/countries you will be visiting.
- Be aware of the exchange rate for your travel destination.
- If your mobil phone is global capable, make sure to activate that feature. There is normally a charge for this but it will be much cheaper than roaming charges.