(BPT) - Planning a trip abroad? That’s exciting! But you have lots to do and less time than you think to get it done. What do you need to accomplish before leaving?
Here's a handy checklist to help you get your ducks in a row.
If you have a current passport, check the expiration date. Many countries require that you have at least two to four blank visa pages, and that your passport be valid for 6 months past the last day of your trip.
If you don’t have a passport or it needs renewal, get that done first. The U.S. State Department announced an increase in processing time for passports to 6-8 weeks. Even a higher-cost expedited passport can take three weeks.
Fortunately, FedEx Office is teaming up with RushMyPassport to offer further expedited U.S. passport services. Stop by one of 2,000 FedEx Office locations or visit FedEx.com/passport to complete your application. You can even purchase government-compliant passport photos at their locations. There are six options:
This doesn't include shipping, so add one day or more for shipping, or arrange pick-up at their location in select cities.
Some countries don't require visas for brief visits, but you should check well before leaving. Find the country at travel.state.gov/destination to determine necessary paperwork and allow several weeks for the process. You will typically need to visit the website of that country's embassy for current visa requirements and instructions. FedEx Office does not currently offer visa services, but plans to in the future.
If your destination country doesn't require a visa, they may require proof of sufficient funds for your trip, proof of onward or return flights and a passport with one blank visa page valid for 6 months beyond the date you arrive.
Bring along information for the U.S. embassy and consulate, in case of emergency. You should also carry contact information for family members in case anything happens to you. Leave a copy of your travel documents (such as passport) and itinerary with someone back home and carry copies with you (separate from originals, in case of loss or theft).
Savvy travelers carry a combination of cash, traveler’s checks and credit cards in separate locations. Learn overall currency exchange rates and make a cheat sheet with that country’s equivalents of $5, $10 and $20. Remember, exchange rates change daily and vary depending on where you exchange money.
Exchange some at the airport when you arrive. Then exchange more in a touristy area posting competitive exchange rates to find better deals.
Consult your doctor to catch up on vaccinations. Find out if the country where you’re traveling requires vaccinations for entry, or which are recommended, on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines. Vaccines should be administered a month ahead for maximum effectiveness.
If you take prescription medications, bring them in their original containers, plus a copy of the prescription(s).
Some health insurance policies cover you overseas, but many don't. You can purchase travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for both doctor or hospital visits and for transporting you to a hospital if necessary. Some renters or homeowners insurance policies cover loss or theft abroad, but you can purchase additional coverage if they don't.
Planning ahead will not only ensure a hassle-free trip, but will give you peace of mind in case the unexpected happens. Knowing what you need before you go will make your trip memorable — for all the right reasons.
These general guidelines are not exhaustive. Be aware that laws change and vary from country to country. Check relevant resources including travel.state.gov/destination for information about your destination.
Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
(BPT) - Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
Whether on your own or with the entire family, volunteering on vacation is a wonderful way to explore a favorite destination or someplace you’ve always wanted to go, while contributing to a cause you care about. It's also one of the fastest growing travel trends in 2019. According to a Google Consumer survey, one in four travelers report that they plan to volunteer on an upcoming trip, and almost half of travelers (47 percent) say they would choose a vacation destination based on a volunteer opportunity they are passionate about.
With the Travel for Good program from Travelocity, you can easily explore volunteer activities in popular vacation destinations all over the U.S. Most activities require anywhere from just a few hours to a whole day.
Here are just a few of the types of opportunities you can find on their interactive volunteer map.
Concerned about hunger?
Travel to New York City to volunteer for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. This nonprofit organization saves food from New York City restaurants that would otherwise go to waste, and then delivers it to folks who need a helping hand.
Or visit Washington, D.C., to sort food donations, stock shelves and assemble nutritious food packs for elementary school children at Food for Others. Volunteers age 12 and older can sign up for weekday shifts, making it a great opportunity to teach your tween or teen children about how they can make a difference.
Care about animals?
You can spend time at The Nashville Zoo, one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions, to enjoy the wildlife while assisting at one-time volunteer opportunities for special events like the adults-only Brew at the Zoo and holiday-related celebrations for Easter, Halloween and more.
Or if you love cats and dogs, consider volunteering your time to help out at an animal shelter, such as Best Friends Animal Society in New York, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, D.C., or PAWS Chicago.
Passionate about the environment?
Plan a trip to California to volunteer with Surfrider Foundation, which organizes regular beach cleanups around the Bay Area. Or head farther south to help out at San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that helps make sure San Diego's waters are safe and clean.
In the Big Easy, help Green Light New Orleans work on sustainable, eco-friendly projects, including installing energy-efficient light bulbs in residential homes, installing rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff and other good deeds.
Want to help build healthier communities?
You could spend your vacation in San Francisco, getting your hands dirty while tending the land at Alemany Farm, the largest urban farm in San Francisco, which educates visitors on how to become healthy food producers and gives away all the food it grows for free.
Or help teach hygiene habits to vulnerable groups in Las Vegas with a volunteer stint at Clean the World Foundation.
Finding a place where you can volunteer on vacation may seem daunting, but it's easy to locate nonprofits in need in some of the top cities across the country by checking out www.travelocity.com/travelforgood. The site also offers tips from fellow volunteer travelers for your next adventure. Make your next vacation both memorable and meaningful by finding the right volunteer opportunity for you.
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