Traveling abroad can be incredibly exciting, but to really enjoy a carefree time you need to invest some time in researching and ensuring that you have covered all your bases, especially when it comes to packing and securing the essentials.
From getting your finances in order to packing properly, and keeping all your paperwork at hand during transit, it is vital to prepare a checklist and mark out the essentials when you are ready. You simply cannot travel without a valid passport and visa, so make sure that you have these in order before you book your flight.
Update Your Passport and Apply for the Right Visa Category
Most countries today require a valid passport with a right visa category stamped on it before you can travel or be allowed inside a foreign country. In fact, it is recommended that your passport be valid for six months after your return date from the country of travel.
In the United States, the State Department advises travelers to renew their passports at least nine months before its official expiry date. Make sure that the expiration date is not set sometime between your travel plans.
New passports are processed between 10 to 12 weeks so give yourself enough time before you book your flights and hotels. More importantly, once your passport is ready, you will now be required to apply for visas for your destination country. Depending on the visa category, this can take several weeks or months.
You can read through the details on the State Department’s country information updates about travel advice, visa requirements, COVID-19 restrictions, details on crime, medical information, special circumstances, immigration services, etc.
Once you know which visa category you wish to apply for, you can make your application with the supporting documents. After paying visa fees, you will be provided with a verdict on whether you application was successful. Once your passport has a visa stamped to it, you can easily travel to your destination and enjoy your vacation.
Make a List of Medical Requirements, Travel Warnings, and Advisories
Every country has a list of requirements that you will need to fulfill so you may travel there with ease. These may include several healthcare and medical requirements such as meningitis shots, polio, and COVID-19 vaccination, etc. You may even need to purchase temporary travel health insurance.
For example, before traveling to the UK on a visa that lasts longer than six months, visitors are required to show evidence of a Tuberculosis test, COVID-19 vaccination, etc. Without the right tests attached to your visa application, it will most likely be rejected by the authorities.
Your government’s travel portal can also issue travel warnings for countries with long-term political turmoil, risky environments, high crime rates, terrorism, war, etc.
In some cases, you may not be allowed to travel to certain countries by your own government due to diplomatic tensions or poor relations. Travel insurance companies will also refuse to cover trips to countries under travel restrictions.
Pack Necessary Medication and Fill Prescriptions
Your government websites can provide ample health information so you can be better prepared before heading into foreign lands. You will be advised to get vaccinated for diseases such as cholera, Zika virus, meningitis, etc. If you have long-term health conditions such as diabetes, celiac disease, etc., you should carry your medications with you in full supply.
Reading through forums on your government website will also inform you about things to avoid when traveling to countries with rampant diseases, such as drinking tap water. You should always consult a travel medicine professional for proper guidance.
We also recommend that you check with the foreign embassy of the destination country or search on their government websites about prescription drugs and medication that are permitted or illegal in the country.
For this purpose, you should always carry extra copies of your medication prescription. Pack all medication in your hand luggage and if you require to carry syringes, keep a letter from your doctor at hand and declare these at customs.
Register your trip with the State Department
If you are a U.S. citizen, then we highly recommend registering online with the U.S. Department of State and provide your full itinerary in case you are traveling outside industrial countries to remote regions.
This is crucial especially in cases of emergencies, allowing the U.S. government to know where you are and how to contact you. By declaring that your travel information can be shared with third parties, your family and friends can also contact the State Department to know your location.
Manage Your Finances and Keep Acceptable Methods of Payment
Traveling internationally can be expensive no matter where you are from. Before you make a 5-star itinerary, make sure that your finances are in order and that you have enough to support the trip and your basic needs when traveling around.
More importantly, when you are in a different country, you need to carry the right currency with you or select the acceptable method of payment that will not land you in awkward situations where you are unable to pay for purchases.
Before traveling, you can always visit the local currency exchange company and buy the currency for your country of destination. If carrying cash is not the safest option for you, then we recommend taking at least two credit cards with you, and remember to call your banks beforehand, letting them know that you will be using these cards internationally.
If you do not let them know this prior to travel, they may find the purchase suspicious and block your cards for safety purposes.
Credit cards are compact and easy to travel with. They are also safer and can be used in most countries around the world.