If you haven't traveled internationally before, it can seem intimidating and overwhelming - what documents do you need? What should you pack? What should you NOT pack? If you're thinking of embarking on an international adventure, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Get Your Passport Early
Nearly all international travel will require a passport, especially if you are flying internationally. It's best to apply for a passport as soon as possible. Processing typically takes 4-6 weeks, though it can vary depending on the volume of requests. Be sure that you have your documentation sorted out well in advance, so that you have everything you need to make your trip happen. Depending on where you're going, there may also be additional documentation requirements - consult with your travel agent for more information.
2. Credit Card & ATM Fees
If you'll be using your credit card or withdrawing from ATMs abroad, check with your credit card company or bank first to see if there are any foreign transaction fees or ATM fees before you go so you won't be surprised by them. If you'll be withdrawing from ATMs and receiving a foreign currency, it's also a good idea to check the exchange rate to see how much you're spending relative to your destination's currency.
3. Phones & Data
Depending upon the phone plan that you have, it’s unlikely that your phone or data will work abroad without incurring extra fees. If you need to use your phone or data while abroad, you’ll want to check with your carrier and see what they cover, and if they don't cover your destination, see if they have an international plan or pass that you can get while you’re traveling if needed.
4. Consult the State Department Website
The State Department website has a lot of detailed information on documentation, health, safety, and other advisories for traveling abroad. A great resource is the State Department’s Travelers Checklist.
5. Get Travel Insurance
We recommend travel insurance to all of our guests no matter where they're traveling, but it's especially important for international travel. Not only does travel insurance protect your vacation investment if something unexpected comes up, but it also provides assistance in case of a medical emergency, which is especially important because most health insurance does not provide coverage outside of the United States.