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What Americans Need To Know When Traveling Abroad

If you’re traveling abroad for the first time, chances are you have a long to-do list before hopping on the plane. 

Traveling Abroad Checklist

Traveling abroad by sea

While your trip plans could change or you could experience a few mishaps, having a plan before traveling is essential. Consider this your checklist for traveling abroad. Here’s everything Americans need to know when traveling abroad.

1. Update Your Documents

It is a requirement in most countries you’ll visit, that your passport should remain valid long past the end date of your trip. Several counties will even require you to have a passport that is valid for at least six months following the conclusion of your trip. 

You wouldn’t want to plan a relaxing beach vacation and have your passport expire on your third day in town. Regardless of what is required, it is wise to always check your passport before booking a trip just in case you need to renew it. 

Travel tip! Don’t forget to make copies of your passport and other travel documents before your trip.

2. Safety is a Number One Priority

Remaining aware of your surroundings and vigilant is always a good idea. Due to many historical affairs, the presence of Americans or any other tourists isn’t always welcome everywhere. 

Tourist in bazaar

Remember that you are a guest in someone else’s country and always be respectful to the local people. Additionally, it’s important to act with caution in surroundings that are unfamiliar and around tourist hotspots. Popular tourist spots are typically overcrowded making them potential target areas for crime, from pickpocketing to terrorist acts.

3. Visa Requirements for US Citizens

While Americans can travel to around 116 countries visa-free, not all destinations are the same. Some countries will require you to apply for a visa and pay the accompanying fee prior to your trip. 

It is best to research your destination by using the State Departments website to determine if your trip will require a visa. Avoid waiting until the last minute to apply for your visa, as processing times vary widely. Last-minute visa requests could force you to make additional fees or not allow you enough time to go on your planned trip.

4. Book an Appointment with a Doctor

Whether you visit a specialized travel doctor or your general practitioner, speaking with a health professional before your trip is essential. Some countries require certain vaccines before entering. Do your destination research prior to the doctors visit so you can inform the doctor of what shots you might need. 

Additionally, check online to see if there are any time restrictions for your vaccination. 

5. Don’t forget to Buy Electronic Adapters 

Many countries use electrical plugs which differ from the ones used in North America. We recommend buying a universal electrical adapter which can be used for various countries. 

Typically, the electrical currents of the outlets can be different too. So bringing your hot hair styling tools or other devices could damage the international socket and your electronics. It is best to avoid bringing US powered electronics abroad.

6. Do Your Research

When you’re traveling to a new country, you’re always coming as a foreigner. Try researching the cultural norms regarding dress, religion, etiquette, tipping and more before your trip. 

Travel research

It’s important to treat local people and cultures with respect and act as if you are a guest in their home – because, well, you are. For example, in many religious countries, women are required to cover their shoulders before entering a temple. 

It even helps to learn key phrases in the local language. Downloading a translation app like Google Translate can really help you get through your trip, too. The more you know about a country’s history and custom, the better traveler you can be. 

7. Cash Is King 

Before you take off, grab cash from your bank or local money exchange. Using ATM’s abroad can come with a hefty price tag or you there may not be many where you’re going. Additionally, having cash is essential to a lot of countries where credit cards don’t dominate.

It’s always a good idea to keep cash on you will traveling but avoid keeping all of your money in one place. It is best to spread your cash out on your person and in multiple pieces of luggage to avoid being a victim of theft. There are also many anti-theft products that are on the market to keep your cash safe from any pickpockets.

Credit cards are usually ok in other western countries but can come with additional fees, minimum spend requirements or other annoyances. 

However, it is still imperative to travel with a credit card. They are particularly useful in emergency situations and for security deposits at hotel accommodations. Do your research to see how much spending money you’ll need before your trip so you can know how much cash to withdraw. 

8. Check for Travel Advisories

While travel advisory warnings aren’t always the end-all-be-all, it can be helpful to know what’s going on in your chosen destination. In fact, before traveling you should always be aware of the economic, political and social challenges that may be happening on the grounds. 

Travel warnings are issued by the United States regularly and are ranked by levels. Levels range from 1 being ‘Exercise Normal Precautions’ to level 4 by ‘Do Not Travel’. Before traveling, do yourself a favor and check out the travel warnings as they can save you a lot of time and money if you decide to cancel your trip.

Things to do Before Traveling Abroad

Your first time traveling abroad is an experience that you will never forget. Properly preparing yourself according to these tips can only help to make your trip even better. We recommend spending a few days prior to your trip reviewing your travel checklist to ensure that everything is in place.

After all, if this is your first time abroad, every moment is precious so don’t waste any time by being unprepared. However, staying prepared doesn’t mean that circumstances won’t arise if you’re traveling to a foreign country and want 24/7 assistance contact US Traveler’s Assist to keep you safe no matter where you may roam.

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