So your hotels and flights are booked. But you feel you may be forgetting something. As a travel consultancy, it’s our job to help advise you on all the tiny details you have to consider prior to traveling. After booking countless client trip, we have our Travel To-Do List down and we’re here to share it with you.
Passport: Having a valid passport is not the only requirement to travel internationally. In fact, most countries require that your passport be valid 6 months after your trip ends. So if your passport doesn’t expire until November, but you travel in September, we recommend you apply for a new passport ASAP. There’s nothing worse than stressing if the airline is going to let you board your flight given this tiny detail. We recommend checking your passport’s expiration date at the very beginning of your travel planning. Lastly, ensure that your passport has enough blank visa pages in it. You may receive a passport stamp when entering and exiting a country - this is especially important to remember if you are traveling between multiple countries.
Visas: In addition to a passport, some countries may require you to have a visa to travel. You may be able to get a visa upon arrival at the airport when you land in your destination, however, you may need passport photo copies, exact change for the visa fee, etc. Other countries require you to apply prior to travel. Always check to make sure you know the requirements for each country you are traveling in.
STEP: It’s always important to tell your friends and family where you are traveling, perhaps leaving a copy of your itinerary behind for them to reference. If you want a little extra piece of mind, register with STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In case of an emergency, it also gives the US government information about your whereabouts so they can help you if needed.
Credit Cards: Does your credit credit have international transaction fees? Will your credit card work abroad? Best to call your credit card company to let them know where and where you are traveling to ensure your credit card will work and to know how much using that card may cost you. If you travel frequently, research which credit cards don’t charge international fees.
Currency: We think it is always best to have a little bit of local currency when you arrive in your destination. Stop by your bank to exchange a little bit of money before you leave home. Otherwise, you’ll likely get a better exchange rate in country. Bring USD to exchange in country - your hotel can often do it for you - or make sure you have a card that can be used at ATMs for withdrawals.
Converters and Adaptors: Do you know the difference between a converter and an adaptor? Most people don’t but you’ll likely need both when traveling internationally. The standard voltage in the US is 110 V but in many other countries the standard voltage is 220 V. In order to use your electronics abroad, you need a converter in order to change the voltage appropriately. Note that some electronics are dual voltage (i.e. Apple products) so a converter is not necessary. Make sure to check each of your electronics to see if they are dual voltage or not. Additionally, the shape of plugs can be different in foreign countries. In order to make your plugs work, you need an adaptor to change the shape of the plug. You may be able to find an adaptor/converter combo within 1 product instead of needing both an adaptor and a converter.
Travel Insurance: It’s a safe bet to say that your health insurance does not cover you abroad. This is why we always suggest purchasing travel insurance so you can see a doctor when you are out of the country. Travel insurance also covers you in case of lost baggage, missed connections, cancelled flights, medical evacuation to the nearest certified hospital, etc. These policies are generally inexpensive. Additionally, you can purchase a more comprehensive policy that has all the above coverage, but also allows you to cancel your trip for business and medical reasons specified by your travel insurer. Policies that allow cancellation are more expensive but helps cover your large investment. Note that there are many companies that offer travel insurance and each company provides different coverage. Please ask us for an insurance quote if you are interested!
Evacuation Insurance: Did you notice that we mentioned “medical evacuation to the nearest certified hospital” in the above description of travel insurance? While some insurance will cover you to be transported to a hospital should you require that medical care, travel insurance won’t let you choose which hospital you are sent to. You will be transferred to the closest certified hospital to where you are traveling, whether that be in Africa, Asia, Europe, etc. Once you arrive to that hospital, if you want to choose a different hospital - likely close to home - you need an additional insurance policy that is a hospital bed to hospital bed transfer. Note that this is only effective if you have medical coverage to get you to that first hospital. If you are interested in this coverage, please ask for a quote!