In preparing for your big overseas adventure, there are a few important ducks you’ll want to have in a row before you even pack. Some of these things you cannot take care of last minute, so make sure to get them done ahead of time.
- Passport. This is the first thing you’ll want to get done. If your passport is going to expire soon and you need to renew it, or if you are applying for a passport for the first time, you’ll need to get this done two months ahead of time. The fee for a new passport is approximately $135 and to renew it is approximately $110. If you find yourself running short on time, you can pay for expedited or overnight shipping which ranges from $60 – $80 US Dollars.
- Travel Visa. Many countries will stamp your passport with a limited time visa when you pass through immigrations on your way in. But, there are certain exceptions, like India for example, that require you to obtain your visa ahead of time from their local embassy. Be sure to check with the US Department of State Travel Website for your destination country’s visa requirements.
- Bank Accounts and Credit Cards. You will want to notify your bank which country (or countries) you will be travelling to. If you don’t and they see your card used in a foreign country, they may think it is fraud and freeze your accounts, leaving you without access to your funds! On the contrary, if you do notify your bank ahead of time, you will ensure greater protection against fraud or loss. Be sure to have a conversation with your bank teller about money exchange rates and the benefits of using a credit card vs. debit card overseas.
- Photocopies. I recommend making photocopies of your passport, insurance/medical card, itinerary and driver’s license. Make two copies of each, hiding one in your suitcase and leaving one at home with a family member or friend. Unfortunately, theft does happen and you don’t want to be left high and dry. For example, if your passport is stolen, the photocopy will speed up the re-issue process at the nearest embassy.
- Vaccines and Medications. Some countries require you get specific vaccinations and/or medications before entering. For example, if you are planning an African Safari in Kenya, you will need to start taking Malaria prevention pills 4-6 weeks before your departure. Depending on what vaccinations you received as a child, you may also need the tetanus shot along with the hepatitis A and B vaccinations. You can find detailed vaccine information regarding your destination country on the Center for Disease Control Website.
- Travel Warnings and Advisories. The US Department of State Travel Website has up-to-date information on worldwide travel warnings and advisories. Check this website for any travel precautions and/or advice before you go.
As stated above, some of the items on this list can take awhile, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get them done.