How to Travel Abroad

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Before you leave

  • 1). Make reservations at least two to three months in advance during high tourist season. Be aware of hurricane season (late summer and early fall) in the Caribbean. Prices are much friendlier at this time, but expect the unexpected as the trade-off. See 465 Prepare for an Act of God.

  • 2). Look into adding extra medical insurance to your policy if traveling to remote or primitive areas. You might want to tack on evacuation insurance (yes, there is such a thing), which covers the expense of bringing you--or your remains--home in case of a serious injury or illness. Review 440 Get Travel Insurance.

  • 3). Renew your passport if it's not current. Apply for any necessary visas. Go to for more specifics.

  • 4). Get required vaccinations two months in advance. Refill prescription drugs and keep them in their original containers. Bring proof of immunizations. (See 441 Get Immunizations for Traveling).

  • 5). Research cash options. Find out if you can use your ATM card, credit card and travelers' checks at your destination. Don't exceed your credit limit on your cards--Americans have been arrested for this. Also know that toll-free numbers do not work from abroad.

  • 6). Don't assume everyone speaks English. Prepare in whatever way you can, whether it's taking a class in the country's language or buying a phrasebook.

  • 7). Clean out your wallet of unnecessary credit cards, Social Security card, library card and other items that could put you at risk for identity theft.

  • 8). Create and carry a personal first aid kit with over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen; cold, antidiarrhea and antacid medicines, antibiotic ointment plus sunscreen, insect repellent and prescription medications.

  • 9). Make two additional copies of your passport's identification page, your airline tickets, your driver's license, and any credit cards you are bringing. Leave one set with family or friends at home; pack the other separate from your valuables. Do the same with a list of the serial numbers of your travelers checks and cross off the numbers as you cash them.

  • 10

    File a travel plan with your family as well as with the local embassy if you are going to a remote or politically unstable area. See 439 Plan a Trip to a Politically Unstable Region.

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