Travel of any kind is exciting and fun, especially when you’re traveling internationally. Travelling abroad is very different from traveling locally in your country. International travel requires much more thorough and advanced planning. As the saying goes, good travel is the result of good planning. And it is especially true in case of international trips. It requires more planning and research than your average trip. Even after planning for lodging, restaurants, activities, etc. there are many steps you need to take in order to enjoy a stress-free and fun trip. If you’re planning an international trip in the near future, sitting back and fantasizing about it is not an option. You need to start planning and researching way before your trip to ensure a smooth travel. Here is a list of things to do before you take your next international trip to ensure a safe, sound, and fun journey.

Print Hard Copies of Travel Documents

Make copies of all your travel documents like air tickets, passport, visa, itinerary, etc. It is always better to carry a hardcopy of these documents on your person wherever you go. In case you’re carrying soft copies of the document, save them in your device locally to make them accessible without internet. Moreover, keep strong password protections in place if you save these documents in your mail or on the cloud.

Keep Your Passport and Visa Updated

If you don’t have a passport you will obviously need it issued beforehand. It takes up to six weeks for the passport application to be processed. For faster results, use the expedited service for an extra fee and receive your passport in two to three weeks. However, it is quite costly and involves a passport fee, expedite passport fee, and passport execution fee which currently stands at $110 + $60 + $35 = $205.00 respectively. If you already have a passport, check your expiration date before you start booking tickets. Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your return date. It is recommended that you renew your passport at the most nine months before it expires. Check the State Department’s website to see if you need any tourist visas and start applying for the same.

Check for Travel Advisories and Warnings

Before planning a trip to another country, you should check if there are any travel advisories or warnings issued by the government for traveling there. Some countries have long-term issues that can create risk for traveler, while some countries face short-term issues that may pose a threat to travelers. It makes sense to know about these conditions before booking your tickets or before you depart. The U.S. government website can easily answer these questions and give important details on crime, special circumstances, medical information, etc regarding your destination.

Register Your Trip

Before you depart for your journey, make sure to register yourself and your trip with the government. To do so, you will need to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The STEP is a free online service run by the U.S. government that can contact you in case of any emergencies back home while you’re traveling. It can even update you of any crisis in the place you’re traveling. This makes it easier for the State Department to assist you in case of an emergency. You should also keep the addresses and phone numbers of any American embassies or consulates in the place you’re visiting.

Buy Health and Travel Insurance

Health and travel insurances are often overlooked by travelers. These insurances are very important in case of any emergency or crisis. If you already have a health insurance, check if it is valid in the country you’re visiting. And if not, consider buying a short-term policy that will cover you for the time you’re abroad. Travel insurance can provide refund in case your trip is cancelled, postponed or cut short for any reason. Also, it can cover you in case of thefts, lost baggage, and similar crisis situations while you’re traveling.

Get Vaccinations and Prescriptions

Depending on the country you’re traveling to, you might need to take some health precautions against various diseases. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to find out health information and vaccination requirements for your destination. Get any necessary shots six weeks before departure. Also, if you take some prescription medicine regularly, you should stock up on it to last your travel abroad. Also, carry some pack non-prescription medicines (aspirin, Imodium, etc.) that may not be easy to find especially if you’re going to some remote location.

Get Permit to Drive Internationally

If you’re planning on driving on your trip abroad, you will need a driving permit to do so; especially if you’re planning a road trip. In most countries it is illegal to drive without a valid driver’s license and insurance. And the U.S. driver’s license is not recognized in many countries. You will need an International Driving Permit from the AAA to drive abroad. Also, it is advisable to look up the rules and laws regarding driving in the country you visit.

Learn Key Phrases In Local Language

It is always advisable to learn a few key phrases like “Hello”, “Thank You”, etc. in the local language of the country you visit. There are some situations and times in which being able to communicate effectively is very important. You may have to ask directions, find the bathroom, or ask for any other help. Knowing some key words and phrases in the local language can get you out of a tight spot or assist you in getting help.

Trips can often turn out to be unpredictable. Despite planning everything to the last detail, there’s always a chance that something might go wrong. The most you can do is be as prepared as possible. So, go through the above list of things to ensure that you are well-prepared in order to make your international journey a success!