(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.
International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
Check International Travel Off Your Bucket List
(Family Features) International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
While there are exotic destinations such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and even Puerto Rico (the country that’s become more popular due to the hit song Despacito) that do not require a U.S. passport, Americans applied for about 17 million passports in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. It’s predicted that applications will hit 21 million in 2017.“This summer is the perfect time to head out of town,” said Josh Belkin, Hotels.com vice president and general manager. “European destinations are particularly popular right now and with declining airfares, increased international flight options and great hotel deals, it’s an obvious time to venture abroad.
One of the main hang-ups in applying for a passport can be cost. However, with a qualifying international accommodation booking, Hotels.com is aiding Americans by offering free passports. The online lodging expert also offers these simple passport tips to ensure you’re ready to pack your bags for the trip of a lifetime:
With a passport in hand, you’ll be prepared to discover some of the most popular international destinations like London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo and Rome, and check an enjoyable travel spot off your bucket list.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman holding up passport)SOURCE:
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