Whether you're traveling internationally for the first time, or you're an experienced globetrotter, there are several important things to do before taking off. Read below for our top international travel tips and information to be an informed and prepared traveler.
Apply for Your Passport and Visas Early
Passport processing can take between two-four weeks so don’t wait to the last minute to apply for yours! Before leaving on your trip, take photos and make copies of your passport and store in a safe location and leave one copy with a trust friend or family member. In case you run into trouble abroad, and bring the other copy with you in case you lose the original.
A visa serves as official permission for you to enter a foreign country. Many countries—particularly those in Asia and Africa—require tourists to have visas, and the application process can be complicated, so apply several months before your trip. The US Department of State indicates whether or not you'll need a visa to enter your destination. It also lists travel advisories for every country in the world ranked by level of safety, from "Exercise Normal Precautions" to "Do Not Travel."1
Check your Destination’s Required Vaccinations
If you'll be visiting a developing nation, you may need to show proof of vaccinations for certain diseases such as cholera, hepatitis and yellow fever. Look up your destination under "Country Information" on the US State Department's site to find information on any required vaccinations.1
You'll generally need to get these several weeks before your trip. Ask if your local pharmacy provides travel vaccinations or consult with your doctor.
Consider Travel Insurance
If you need to cancel or cut your trip short due to illness, injury or unexpected obligations, travel insurance is money well spent. Depending on the policy you choose, you'll be reimbursed for all or part of your trip expenses under certain conditions. You can buy travel insurance through travel agents, online trip-booking services or your home or car insurance company.
Make sure Your Phone is on an International Plan
Before you leave, contact your phone provider to let them know you'll be using your phone internationally and set up a temporary international plan. You’ll want to make sure you can stay in touch with your loved ones while traveling internationally. Once you have your international plan, download ADT Go and share your location with your family so they can make sure you are safe and even talk to you about all the cool places you’re visiting!
A day or two before your trip, call or email to confirm all reservations, including hotels, car rentals, flights and entertainment. Print out confirmations so you'll have backup documentation if necessary. Exchange currencies Look up the exchange rates for the countries you'll be visiting so you'll have a feel for how far your dollars will go there. Then head to your local bank a week or so prior to your trip to put in an order for your destination's currency.
Most banks will have your money within a day or two, and you'll pay much lower fees than at the airport or an ATM in your destination country.
Enroll in STEP the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP) lets you quickly and easily register your presence abroad so that in case of emergency—whether that be a natural disaster or civil unrest—the local embassy knows how to contact you.2
Research Local Customs
What's acceptable or even friendly in one country can be considered highly rude or aggressive in another. Before heading overseas, spend some time reading up—either online or in printed guidebooks specific to your destination—about any must-know local customs or cultural norms. While you're at it, try and learn a few key phrases in your destination's language.
You don't want to bring your phone charger only to find that won't plug into the electrical outlet, or the voltage isn't compatible with the local current. Remember to pack a few power adapters/voltage converters so you can use your electrical gadgets during your trip abroad. You'll need to do a bit of research to learn exactly what type of adapter you'll need for your destination, as outlet styles and standard voltage vary around the world.
Secure Your Home
And of course, a monitored home security system will give you peace of mind no matter how far from home you might be. You can schedule your lights to go on and off and remotely access your home from the convenience of your phone, anywhere in the world!
Although tempting, it's best not to broadcast your upcoming trip on social media; this tells potential burglars that your home will be empty for an extended period. Put a hold on your mail delivery so your box won't overflow and be an invitation for an unwanted guest.
1. U.S. Department of State. Accessed July 10, 2018. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html
2. U.S. Department of State. Accessed July 10, 2018. https://step.state.gov/step/.