So you’ve narrowed down where you want to go and when. You’ve even thought about what you’re going to wear. But what are the requirements for traveling internationally from the U.S.? There’s a series of questions that you need to ask yourself and this post will help you get started and point you in the right direction!
First, are you a US citizen?
- No. There is a separate form required for a passport application. Refer to travel.state.gov for more info.
Second, do you have a passport?
- Yes! Fantastic! Skip to travel tips
So you’ll need to apply for a passport if you don’t already have one. You’ll need to print out the Application and complete it as well as acquire a 2x2 photo of your face – much like the one on your drivers license – and you’ll also need a money order to submit with your application.
There are several apps that have been developed to turn a photo on your cellphone into a passport approved photo. When I submitted my application, I was in a time crunch so I didn’t want to risk the application being sent back. So I went down to my local Walgreens and had my photo taken and printed in under 15 minutes – I did this on my lunch break so efficiency and timeliness was important! - and it only cost me about $14 for two copies of it. You never know when a back-up will come in handy! The money order you can acquire easily from a Western Union branch, Wal-mart, and even some gas stations.
You’ll find the application HERE. Be sure that you read and clearly understand the instructions and that you fill out the forms correctly. Otherwise, your passport application can be denied and you run the risk of not getting one in time for your trip. The last major thing to note about your passport application is that it needs to be notarized before you can submit it. I went down to my local Clerk of Court and they not only notarized the application but mailed it as well. All in all, I only had about a four week wait for my first passport to be approved and then a two week wait for the renewal. But to be safe, I recommend applying for your first passport at least eight weeks before you’re scheduled to leave.
I can not stress how useful the government travel site is. You can log your itenerary, name emergency contacts, and add your e-mail for updates from the American Embassy at your travel destination. This helps you know if there are any additional safety concerns you should be aware of; natural disasters or any other potential threats. They also offer destination specific travel advice for keeping yourself safe. This program is called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and is completely free to use. I loved getting updates in my email regarding the current politics, weather, and overall environment. Not only did it help me know what to expect but it helped build my excitement for my upcoming trip!
Lastly, plan to be aware of your surroundings when you travel. Wear a purse that sits close to your body, know where your belongings are at all times, contact your bank and notify them when you'll be out of country. Trust me, it's better to be safe than to be sorry. But overall, have fun! Experience life! Scoot out of the tourist zones and truly experience the culture that you're surrounded by.
|The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.-- Saint Augustine|