Now that your bags are packed, itinerary full of exciting excursions and lodging accommodations are complete; you are ready to breeze through customs and immigration like a natural-born citizen! We are team #travelinstyleandsafety, which means we take steps to avoid unnecessary searching during security check-ins, prevent being singled out for a Passport or Visa verification, and save as much money as possible during the process. Preparation is the key to a seamless journey outside of the country. In the new age of instant information, we can travel around the world at the click of a button and take care of the logistics before physically landing to the destination. You should never book a trip without first reviewing my thorough check-list, which grants you the freedom to fashionably trot around the globe with a peace of mind.
- Update your US Passport, ensure that at least two pages in your book are blank, and pack your updated Driver’s License. Also, bring at least one secured credit card to place on file for lodging accommodations. Inform your bank on where you are traveling, how long you anticipate visiting, and how much money you plan to spend. Many countries accept US currency; however, there are some that do not process debit card transactions or cash. If possible, convert your cash to the respective country’s currency prior to departing for the trip, it’ll save you time, money, and a headache! Banks that allow you to convert to various foreign currencies include Bank of America, Wells Fargo (recommended), Citibank, and Chase. There is a surcharge to exchange money, but it is better to be prepared than stranded.
- Stalk your airline’s fine-print! Check your airline’s baggage policy (accepted baggage dimensions, carry-ons, maximum luggage permitted to check-in), check-in online as soon as possible to ensure a comfortable seat, and visit TSA’s (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule) site before packing to prevent security from emptying your suitcase or missing your flight!
- Purchase a Visa online in advance! Some countries allow your itinerary to serve as a temporary, region-constrained Visa during your travels. However, some countries are stricter than others in the area of Immigration and may prohibit you from entering the country. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHANCES BY NOT OBTAINING A VISA IN ADVANCE! If you can apply for a Visa on a country’s border, then awesome; but you are responsible for researching which cities you are allowed to enter with such a restricted document. Your best bet is to purchase a permanent Visa, as most of them are restriction-free and most of all, anxiety-free!
- Know your purpose for traveling, as you are required to inform the government of your reason for obtaining a Visa. The categories generally range from education and leisure to business and tourist. Secondly, pay the extra fare for health and traveler’s insurance, respectively. Although you are amazing, you’re also mortal!
- Organize your traveling documents before boarding the plane. Print at least two copies of your airline itinerary, layover included; make a copy of your health insurance documents and any vaccination records required for the trip; a copy of your confirmed lodging documents that provides the address, owner’s name (if not a traditional hotel), and phone number; and of course, a secured credit card. These documents should be kept in your briefcase or purse at all times, as most customs and declarations ask for them on an ad hoc basis.
This checklist was designed to help you to go abroad confidently in the direction of your dreams. By following these steps, you are sure to visit any country with ease.