Travel GuideWhat to Do

Things to Do before Traveling Abroad

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When considering what are the things to do before traveling abroad, you have to understand travel as the movement of people between distant geographical locations. Travel can be done by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, ship or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip. Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

Reasons for travelling include recreation, tourism or vacationing, research travel, the gathering of information, visiting people, volunteer travel for charity, migration to begin life somewhere else, religious pilgrimages and mission trips, business travel, trade, commuting, and other reasons, such as to obtain health care or waging or fleeing war or for the enjoyment of travelling. Travelers may use human-powered transport such as walking or bicycling; or vehicles, such as public transport, automobiles, trains, and airplanes.

Motives for travel include:

Discovery and exploration
Getting to know other cultures
Taking personal time for building interpersonal relationships.

Below are the things to do before traveling abroad.

Check the expiry date of your documents.

Most countries require that your passport be valid for six months after your return date. The State Department recommends that you renew your passport no less than nine months before it’s set to expire.

Check the expiration date of your passport now, and if you need to renew, check the U.S. Department of State’s website to find your nearest passport facility.

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Allow up to six weeks for the passport application to be processed. If you need the passport faster than that, use the expedited service for an extra fee and receive your passport in two to three weeks. Private expediting services can get it done more quickly, but they charge much higher fees.

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The State Department’s country information provides important facts about your destination, such as whether you need a visa and where to get it, as well as other important details on crime, special circumstances, medical information and more.

If you plan to rent a car or drive at your destination, find out whether an International Driver’s License is required or if your U.S. license will suffice.

Make a photocopy of the information page of your passport and the visa page(s) for your destination(s). Pack them separately from your passport.

Email and print the most important documents.

Scan your documents (passport, visa, drivers license, ID card), email them yourself, and print copies. In case they get stolen, the renewal process will go faster if you have copies on hand or in your inbox. Also, keep them separate from the original copies.

Check for travel warnings and advisories

Find out whether the U.S. government has issued a travel warning, for countries where long-term issues create a risky environment for travelers, or a travel alert, for countries with short-term conditions that may pose a threat to travelers, for your destination. Many travel insurance policies will not cover travel to countries that are under travel warnings.

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