Traveling internationally can be an exciting and memorable experience for seasoned and first-time travelers alike. No matter if you’re on your first passport stamp or you’re into double digits, these are our top five tips to keep in mind before you go:
1.Always check the entry and departure requirements for your destination. Each country can have its own specific guidelines or rules, so it’s a good idea to search your destination on the U.S. Department of State website for its exact requirements well ahead of your trip.
2. Make sure your passport is valid, even before you book. When applying for or renewing a passport, you can check current processing times online, but the earlier, the better. Depending on the volume of passport requests when you apply, processing times can take up to 12 weeks (and that doesn’t include the time it takes to arrive in the mail). There are some rush options, but they are limited, so play it safe and plan ahead.
Keep in mind: Countries can also have their own individual requirements for passport validity. For example, if you're traveling to Roatan, Honduras requires your passport to be valid for at least three months after you return home, and most of our international destinations require at least one or more blank pages to account for new entry stamps. Check the U.S. Department of State website for the specific information for your destination.
3. Arriving early at the airport is crucial for international travel. Most of these flights begin the boarding process earlier than their domestic counterparts. Allowing yourself extra time provides not only a buffer for getting through security but also a more relaxed experience. Don’t begin your vacation in a rush. We recommend arriving at least three hours before departure.
4. If there’s time before your next international trip, consider applying for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. These trusted traveler programs can expedite your airport security and customs clearance processes. TSA Pre-Check streamlines domestic security screening, while Global Entry offers the added benefit of expedited customs processing for U.S. travelers returning home from international travel.
5. Finally, be sure to get your personal effects in order. Check your current cell phone plan for the country you are visiting to help avoid unexpected roaming fees or potential compatibility issues with the local network. Additionally, notify your bank and credit card companies of your trip so they know you’re going to be out of town, and make two copies of your travel documents, just in case.
To sum it up and keep it simple – double-check your lists and arrive at the airport early so you can focus less on the process of “getting there” and more on the excitement of sinking your toes in the sand, beach-side, with a cold drink.
Ready to get that passport stamp? Get To Going.