What do you need to know before you travel out of the country?
International Travel Checklist
Traveling to another country can be one of the greatest experiences of your life. You’ve got your passport and you know where you want to go. But what else do you need before you embark on your adventure?
Contact Your Embassy/Consulate
It can be a good idea to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the country you are visiting to let them know that you will be there. Now, no one likes the thought of big brother watching them, especially when you’re on vacation, but this can be extremely helpful. Your home country’s embassy can assist in case of a crisis or natural disaster. They may also let you know of any travel warnings or help you get home in case of an emergency.
Citizens of the United States have the option of enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This is an easy way to go online and fill in the information for your upcoming coming trip and allows the State Department to send you pertinent information about the country you are visiting such as travel advisories, warnings, and instructions in case of an emergency. This can help you better plan your trip or, if need be, make changes to your plans.
The world is full of beautiful places, but even the most beautiful places in the world may have hidden dangers. That’s why you need to make sure that you check for travel warnings for your destination. Travel warnings may be about crime, terrorist threats, medical concerns, or natural disasters. Keep checking the travel warnings up to and during your trip because they are updated regularly. Contact your home country’s embassy for the most up to date information.
Another important step to take before international travel is to check with customs for your home country and/or the country you’re visiting. Laws around the world are not always the same. The country you’re heading to may not allow your medication or limit how much you can bring with you. There may be a limit or restriction on cigarettes, cash, or electronics that you can bring into the country. The same can apply for what you can bring back from that country. If you don’t do the research before you go, you could be in for an expensive lesson.
Before visit another country, make sure you know the visa requirements for that country. A passport is a document issued to you by your home country that allows you to travel to another country, but you also need permission from the country you’re visiting to enter. This is a visa. Visa requirements vary based on where you’re going, where you’re coming from, and how long you plan on staying. Some visas are automatic, some may just be a stamp in your passport, and some are a separate document that you must apply for ahead of time. And while some visas are free, some come at a fee. Before you book your trip, make sure that you contact your country’s embassy in the country you want to visit to see what the requirements are, because some visas may take several weeks to process.
Accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere at anytime. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are covered when traveling abroad. Most travel health insurance plans focus on emergency services, but there some that include trip insurance as well. The first thing you should do is contact your insurance company to see if they cover you while you’re abroad. In most cases they won’t, but it’s better to ask before spending money on unnecessary coverage. Most travel health insurance offer single trip, multi-trip, or long term plans. You’ll need to determine which is best for you based on the cost and how often you travel. Just keep in mind that in many places you’ll have to pay up front for service and the insurance company will reimburse you.
Whether it’s to keep in contact with family, to keep up with work, or just to post your awesome travel photos, it’s important that to have a plan for how to maintain phone and internet service while you’re in another country. The thing you should do is assess your needs. Did you leave the kids with family or a babysitter? Then you’ll definitely need phone and messaging service. Do you need to do any work on your trip? Then internet access might be necessary. You can see some of your options in our guide, Staying Connected While Abroad.