Plan a Better Trip Abroad

Gearing up for a trip abroad? Besides making room in your suitcase for souvenirs, take along our top 7 hints for packing, travel safety, and navigating new languages, cultures and customs.

The learning experience begins at home. The U.S. government’s travel site offers info about your destination's current passport and visa requirements, vaccinations, currency information, alerts and warnings, laws, embassy and consulate information and travel safety updates.

Keeping america apprised. Signing up for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) keeps important travel safety announcements coming your way. Plus, it makes it easier for an embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. Perhaps most importantly, it helps your family reach you through an embassy, if needed.

There’s strength in phone numbers. Gathering phone numbers for services and contacts you might need, both at the destination and at home, makes smart travel sense. Some suggestions include: local fire and police departments, nearby hospitals, cab companies and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Letting your bank know you’re gone. Calling your credit card companies, bank, credit union or other financial institution and alerting them to your itinerary is the best way to keep your currency flowing. Going from purchases in America to Istanbul, for example, would raise unusual activity flags if not previously notified.

Guard your health. Looking into vaccinations and any other medical precautions your destination may require helps your travels go smoothly. Bringing medicines with you, rather than relying on availability abroad, is a good idea. Travel insurance can also help protect your getaway if illness sidelines your trip.

Copying documents is key. Emailing copies to yourself of your passport’s ID page, itinerary, credit and insurance cards, prescriptions, passes, tickets and other documents on a web-based account lets you access them electronically. Tucking extra copies in your luggage along with extra passport photos helps, too. Giving copies to a trusted someone at home makes it possible for them to fax it to you in a pinch.

Driving internationally and legally. Driving abroad can be a memorable experience, but many places require an international driving permit, which you can get from your local DMV.

Knowing where in the world you’re going is only part of traveling safe. Checking out our safe travel tips will help you stay secure, so you can relax and enjoy the adventures ahead.

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Related Topics: Lifestyle , Travel