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Things To Do Before Going Abroad

4 Crucial Things To Do Before Going Abroad

by Martha Simmonds

Whether you’ll be going abroad temporarily for a dream vacation or are planning to stay overseas on an extended basis for school or work, it goes without saying that you have a lot to be excited about. Time spent abroad is time spent making memories, becoming a better person, and experiencing the world on an entirely new level.

The last thing you want is for a lapse in preparation to take a bite out of your fun, so every would-be traveler needs a thorough to-do list to work on before they go. Here are a few essential items to include in yours.

1. Double-check your passport

A new United States passport is valid for ten years, so it’s easier than you think to lose track of when it’s up for renewal. You don’t want to do that, though. Most foreign countries will expect a visitor’s passport to be valid for at least half a year past their scheduled return date. And since the renewal process can take a while, it’s recommended that you start the process nine months to a year before your passport’s expiration date.

You’ll also want to look into whether your destination and reason for visiting will require a visa. And if you’re planning to get around by car while you’re abroad, check to make sure you won’t need a special international driver’s license while you’re there, as well.

2. See to your ongoing health

You’ll also want to get the ball rolling on any vaccinations or health requirements you might need to take care of before going abroad. (To be effective, vaccines should be obtained at least six months in advance.) Once you’ve decided on a destination, check in with the CDC for current information on what’s required to visit the countries on your itinerary.

Don’t forget about your prescriptions, either. Prescribed medications should always be packed in your carry-on bag, and any syringes you may need to use should be carried alongside a doctor’s note. You should carry photocopies of your prescriptions with you when you travel, as well – just in case.

3. Set up an easy way to receive money in a pinch

The last thing any traveler wants is to wind up far away from home without access to essential funds they need. That said, covering all of your money bases should be a key priority when preparing to travel abroad.

Start with your credit cards. Decide on a couple to take with you, and be sure to call the issuing banks ahead of time to let them know you’ll be out of the country for a while. You may also want to plan on withdrawing cash from ATMs while abroad instead of relying on traveler’s checks, as those are no longer accepted everywhere.

And last but not least, set up an easy way for people back home can send you fast, easy funds in case of emergency. Signing up for a money transfer service designed specifically for people who might want to receive or send money abroad is a great example.

4. Read up on your destination

One of the best ways to be truly prepared to travel abroad is to do plenty of research on your destination before you leave. Knowing the rules, social norms, and local customs where you’re going will help you fit in and get the absolute most out of your time here. It helps to know at least a bit of the language, as well.

Is the country you’re visiting known for being permissive or conservative when it comes to clothing? Do you know at least a few basic phrases in the local language? Do people tip where you’re going? If so, who and how much? Know the answers to questions like these, as well as how to stay safe where you’re going.

Ultimately, it’s true what they say about travel – that it’s the chance of a lifetime and something everyone should do if they’re able. But being prepared for both the expected and the unexpected is a crucial part of making sure your experience is everything you want it to be. So definitely take the time to cover all the possibilities before you leave. You’ll be glad you did.

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