Five Steps to Prepare for Your Trip AbroadPosted on Sep 26 in Travel Tipsby Holly MillerPrint
While it is no fun at all ensuring you have all the paperwork you need, not having it can shorten your trip abroad to merely arriving at the airport or port of call. Some of these documents take only a few days to obtain; others can require weeks. Start in plenty of time for processing, reprocessing and delivery delays.
A. Passport: Do you have one that is and will remain valid for the duration of your trip? If your trip is planned for one month, you can find yourself in trouble if your passport expires three weeks into your trip.
Do you have a current photograph in your passport? Do you wear corrective lenses now? Is your hair shorter or significantly longer than before? Is it the same general color? Have you gained or lost significant weight? All of these factors can change your appearance enough to be delayed through Customs. Update your passport if you have a significantly changed passport.
B. Visa: Most countries have no problem with issuing tourist visas. They encourage your visit. But if you planned on working even part-time while you’re there as some people do, your tourist visa is invalid. Ensure you get the right kind of visa for your trip.
Ensure you get a Visa for every individual country that will require it. If you have a lay-over at an airport, you don’t need a Visa for that stop, but if your plans change, ensure you visit the nearest visa-issuing office in time for a new application.
C. Vaccinations: Ensure you review the list of vaccinations you must obtain, if any, before you leave. For those countries that require them before departure, you will need proper documentation from your physician that you did have the required vaccinations.
2. Travel Restrictions
Approximately 30 to 60 days before departure, ensure that your itinerary won’t take you into or through any travel-restricted countries. While some entries on this list remain almost permanently, the majority of high-risk travel areas and travel prohibitions change almost daily.
Double-check this list both 10 days and a few days before your departure date. It’s far better to check often than it is to arrive at the airport or port of call and discover your itinerary must be changed. It could cost your valuable time and money—if your trip isn’t canceled altogether.
3. Credit Cards
It’s never a good idea to carry all your credit cards when traveling. At most, carry only one with you; secure the rest safely at home. Which one you choose is your decision, but consider the one with the lowest interest rate instead of the highest available balance. Enjoy your trip, but don’t get yourself into financial trouble when you return, and the bills arrive. Also, notify your credit card company that you are headed abroad, so they won’t question purchases in a foreign country. Notify the issuers of your other credit cards that no activity on them is authorized for the duration of your trip. Be sure to notify all of them when you return.
4. Cash Alternative
Consider carrying traveler’s checks instead of cash. If cash is stolen, it cannot be recovered, but traveler’s checks are often replaced within one or two business days almost anywhere in the world.
Know the exchange rates of currency where you will travel. Central banks offer reliable exchange rates, and familiarity with that rate will help you determine if a merchant attempts to overcharge you.
Arrange with a friend or family member a regular schedule of contact while you’re abroad. Email, telephone call or postcard will do, just to let them know you’re safe and having fun. As you travel from country to country, your passport will note you crossing borders, but there’s nothing like personal contact of some sort to give your friends and family peace of mind that you’re all right as you enjoy your long-awaited trip.