Physician Lifestyle

10 Things to Consider When Preparing for International Travel

December 14, 2011

As we head into the winter months, you may be planning a getaway to a warmer climate in 2012 that includes international travel. Traveling or vacationing outside of the U.S. requires special planning and precautions before you leave. It’s not too soon to consider these useful tips to assure a safe and smooth trip.

10 Things to Consider When Preparing for International Travel

  1. Review your health insurance to make sure you’re covered while in foreign lands.
  2. Check your passport expiration date. Some countries require your passport to be valid for at least three months or more beyond the period of your stay. If you need a passport, allow four to six weeks for processing. The U.S. Department of State’s website has a useful passport information page.

3. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information on visa requirements, exchange rates, and travel warnings. There’s also an official State Department Smart Traveler iPhone app available that offers easy mobile access to all of this information.

4. Register with the Department of State’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enable the department to better assist you in an emergency, notify you ahead of time if there is a crisis where you intend to travel, or contact you if there is a family emergency at home.

5. Leave photocopies of your itinerary and passport data page with family and/or friends and carry a copy of your passport data page with you in your luggage, separate from your original passport.

6. Bring contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24/7 to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens, including replacement of lost or stolen passports.

7. Contact your mobile phone provider about international calling plans, or consider pre-paid calling cards.

8. Notify your credit card companies of your trip, the countries you’ll be visiting, and how long you’ll be staying. Otherwise, your credit cards could be declined.

9. Review the travelers’ health pages at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website and the World Health Organization website for conditions at your destination that could affect your health, such as high altitude or pollution, types of medical facilities that are available, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, safe food and water precautions, insect bite protection and more.

10. Bring a note with you from your physician documenting any prescription medication you are bringing and keep medications in their original pharmacy containers.

Happy and SAFE travels!

 Overseas Emergency Assistance (Clip and save this information)

 Assistance from the Office of Overseas Citizen Services, State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs:

  • If calling from overseas 202-501-4444
  • If calling from the U.S. or Canada 888-407-4747
  • Find links to U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad at
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