Nope, it is not. These days, you need to do much more. Planning an overseas trip for the first time is exciting and at times it is time-consuming and maybe even boring too. When you select your destination, and then plan an itinerary, it is all fun.
But there are loads of things to do when traveling overseas or preparing to travel overseas that are not so much fun, but are needed for your trip to go off without a hitch. While so vitally important, there is more to consider than just getting your vaccination shots.
What You Need to Do to Get Ready for a Trip to a Foreign Country
Before you book your trip, check the United States Department of State website and check that your destination is not on the Travel Warnings or Travel Alerts lists.
Listed destinations are those that the State Department considers dangerous for American nationals to travel to or within.
There are so many things you must do to get ready, following are the most important ones.
- Apply for your passport two months before your trip. (and your pet passports) The State Department says it takes four weeks to process, but you want to be on the safe side without paying extra fees for an expedited application.
- The State Department’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) provides country specific information for every country in the world. This site gives you information about travel warnings, visas, and vaccinations. Do this before booking as if a visa is needed, it is issued by the country(ies) you are visiting and not by the United States Department of State.
- Reserve hotels and buy or arrange your ground transportation and plane tickets. Booking online is efficient if you have traveled to your chosen destination before. If the destination is new to you, think about a travel agent.
- Buy travel insurance – both kinds. The first is trip interruption insurance. This kind of insurance protects you against loss on non-refundable tickets or reservations if for a covered reason you miss your trip or end it early. Also, buy a traveler’s health insurance policy as most United States medical insurance programs do not cover health care in foreign countries.
- Have a health emergency plan. While travel insurance can help, usually, your foreign travel health insurance plan only pays for transportation to the nearest hospital, if you want to go home for treatment the cost can be prohibitive. Join a special kind of membership travel club – become a member of MedjetAssist. They are not an insurance company, they are a membership service provider for air medical transport that flies you home to your nearest hospital or a hospital you choose.
- Read a few guidebooks and travel reviews about your destination before you leave. If a particular place or activity sounds interesting to you, find out if you can book in advance so that you know you will be able to visit a place for certain.
- Do not over pack. Everything you need for a one-week to one-month trip you can get into a backpack. Easy-to-wear pieces that match everything else are key, as are clothes that don’t wrinkle and don’t take up a lot of space.
- Learn some key phrases of the language of the places you plan on traveling to. Even if you mangle a phrase like “good morning,” country citizens appreciate your effort and after a smile and a chuckle will greet you with enthusiasm. You don’t have to learn a foreign language but it helps to buy a mini language dictionary and study some words on the plane.
- Split up the places where you plan to carry your cash and credit cards. Put a card and some cash in your suitcase, some in your purse if you carry one, and the rest in a money belt. Be critically aware of these items at all times. Hide them well whether or not you are carrying them with you. Above all, stay safe while traveling.
- Temporarily sign up with your cell phone company for a temporary international plan for your Smartphone. By taking this step, you keep up access to apps and maps that makes finding places easier to find and navigate.
You’ve gotten your vaccination shots and are learning about what else to do. With some planning and some easy-to-access research, you will be all set. Have fun!
New cultures, new food and new adventures start the moment you begin your flight. Prepare yourself for new ways of doing things and stay patient and in good humor.