Traveling outside of the US requires careful planning. Chances are you have spent countless hours picking a destination, deciding on the best dates, and arranging travel and hotel accommodations. Have you researched the local laws where you are visiting? Do you have the appropriate documents? How will your family reach you in case of an emergency? Do you have the right insurance to travel outside of the US? Follow the checklist below to make sure you are truly ready for your adventure!
Click here to download a handy card to take with you while you travel.
Research your destination to learn about visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical care in the country you plan to visit. Some travelers, such as those with disabilities, women, and LGBTQI persons, may face challenges in other countries. A great place to do this research is travel.state.gov.
Check Travel Warnings & Alerts for your destination. You can also check security messages with the US Embassy where you will be traveling.
Get the latest information about health precautions with the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Check recommended vaccinations for your destination.
Notify your bank and credit card companies of your intended travel, and be sure to check exchange rates. Be sure to learn about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs in your destination country.
Make sure you know what the Department of State can do for you in an emergency. Carry the contact details for the nearest US Embassy with you at all time, in English and in the local language.
Get Required Documents
Apply early for your passport, or renew your old one. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after returning home, and needs to have two or more blank pages.
You must show proof of both your US citizenship and your identity when you return to the US if you are traveling by land or sea.
You may need to have a visa before you travel to your destination. Contact the foreign country's embassy where you are traveling for details.
Make two photocopies of all your documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted family member or friend at home and carry the other copy separately from the originals in case of loss or theft.
Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get information about safety conditions in your destination country and to help the US Embassy and your family and friends contact you in an emergency.
If your family needs to contact you because of an emergency at home, they can call Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444.
Make sure you have international health insurance whenever you are traveling abroad. No US health insurance plan covers you overseas, including Medicare and Medicaid. You should consider buying travel insurance to cover medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Foreign hospitals and doctors typically require payment in cash, and emergency evacuation can cost up to $100,000. Learn more about health care abroad.
You should consider whether you need additional coverage for engaging in certain activities while traveling. You may require an adventure sports rider, or citizenship return rider to provide you with adequate coverage.
Also consider a trip interruption/cancellation policy including loss or theft. These plans help pay for unexpected expenses.