10 Ways to Prepare for International Travel

August 15, 2017

couple in airport
International travel is one of the best ways to expand your horizons and encounter new people and cultures. 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 Ways to Prepare for International Travel

  1. 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.

  2. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information on passport and visa requirements, exchange rates, and travel alerts. Register for their free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the department can better assist you in an emergency. Also, download the official State Department Smart Traveler app (available for iPhone and Android) which provides access to all of this information on-the-go.

  3. Review the travelers’ health pages at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization websites for conditions at your destination that could affect your health. Find out about 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.

  4. Review your health insurance to make sure you’re covered while in foreign lands. Bring a note with you from your physician documenting any prescription medication you are bringing and keep medications in their original pharmacy containers.

  5. Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect you from travel mishaps. 

  6. Notify your credit card companies of your trip, including the countries you’ll be visiting, and how long you’ll be staying. Otherwise, your credit cards could be declined overseas. If you are looking for a new credit card, apply for cards that offer no foreign transaction fees.

  7. Contact your mobile phone provider about international calling plans, or consider pre-paid calling cards. Free apps, like Whatsapp, make it easy to communicate with loved ones from anywhere without using your mobile plan minutes or racking up high roaming charges.

  8. 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. Make sure to also bring contact information for the U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries that you are visiting.

  9. Impress the locals by using Duolingo or Memrise, popular language learning apps, to learn key phrases.

  10. Make your return to the U.S. even smoother by applying for Global Entry, an expedited customs clearance program, or downloading the Mobile Passport app to save you time going through the customs line.

Don't know where to travel next?

Consider taking the journey of a lifetime through the AHI Travel Program. As the AMA preferred provider of travel services, AHI Travel offers physician group journeys to the world’s most fascinating places, like Sorrento or the French Riviera. Check out the 2017 travel program lineup here.

Happy and safe travels!

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