Will you be vacationing outside the US this summer? If so, take a few minutes now to make sure your travel documents are in order and avoid delays and problems down the road.
Check the expiration date on your passport or apply now to get one.
If you ALREADY HAVE A PASSPORT, check the expiration date now. If possible, you should renew your passport approximately 9 months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip, and some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.
If you DO NOT HAVE A PASSPORT or it has expired, apply right away. The normal passport application process can take up to two months, but there are ways to expedite your application. It will most probably cost you a bit more, but if necessary, you can get your passport sooner.
General Information on Obtaining a Passport:
Passport Application Information, Fees, and Online Application Form:
Always carry a Photo ID
You will need this to check in to most hotels, use a debit or credit card, board trains or ferries, etc. Generally, a passport serves as a universally-accepted photo ID. Be aware that outside the US, your state driver’s license may not be considered an acceptable form of photo ID by certain vendors or retails.
Check to see if you will need to apply for and obtain a visa for your trip.
A visa is an endorsement stamped on your passport by foreign customs officials that allows you to visit that country. Whether or not you will need a visa will depend on the country you are traveling to, your own nationality/passport origin, your reason for visiting (tourism, work, etc.), and the expected duration of your stay. Apply for a visa through the country’s embassy or consulate.
Determine Any Immunization Requirements
You will seldom need, but may want to carry immunization records with you. Whether or not you need certain travel immunizations will depend particularly on where you will be traveling. Remember too – even if a country does not require certain immunizations, you may still want to get them for your own comfort and safety. Always remember to allow enough time to start a series of shots early enough to finish the series before traveling.
Consider an International Driving Permit
Are you planning to rent a car, scooter, or other conveyance during your trip? In most instances, your US driver’s license will probably work, but check first. You may also consider obtaining an International Driving Permit before you go. Even if you are not planning to drive, an International Driving Permit is valid in over 150 countries and contains your name and photo, which makes it an excellent form of photo ID to have on hand in addition to your passport when communicating with foreign authorities, etc. You can apply for an International Driving Permit at any AAA office for a nominal cost. If you will be staying more than a few months at your destination, you might want to get a local government-issued driver’s license.
Have a Plan to Access Documents in Case of Emergency
Remember to make photocopies of your important documents before you leave home. Bring one copy with you (always carry/pack it separately from the original) and leave another at home with family or friends in case of an emergency. If possible, scan or take photos of your documents and make sure they are accessible on your smart phone or tablet if you plan to travel with those devices. Consider downloading and using a password, cloud, or other application to store your private information in one location. You might also consider emailing yourself important travel document copies. If you lose your passport, visa, airline tickets, credit cards or driver’s license, you can download copies while you’re traveling.