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Traveling has always taken a lot of preparation. The booking, the packing, making sure documents are in order, getting a sitter for the pets, and closing up the house. Nowadays, however, with increased security and deadly diseases, it does require tourists to do some research before going anywhere.

Novels and television movies often depict individuals just grabbing their wallets and off they go on some adventure. And certainly, if they are staying within their own country, they can do that. But the reality is, you can’t get very far without a passport, possibly a visa and in some cases vaccines.

On this page, we want to discuss six points that you need to be aware of when traveling out of country. Of course, we do not know the rules for every country and they do change regularly in some areas, so all the more reason you know them yourself before committing to a trip.

#1 Check With Authorities
Before buying any flight or travel package, there are a few places you can read about certain countries. For example, in your country, the government will probably post advisories about areas. This could include high crime, political unrest and fatal diseases.

In addition to your own government, the travel agent should have some knowledge or at the very least point you in the right direction to getting information.

#2 Passports and Visas
While it was previously common for countries to have reciprocal agreements for their residents to travel with forms of ID such as birth certificates and driver licenses, now it is almost impossible to travel between any country without an official passport.

And if you are not sure, just apply for one and carry it with you. This will become even more important if you are going a long distance and from country to country. Don’t forget that some flights touch down in other countries to change carriers. You will need the appropriate documentation to pass through immigration even though you are not staying or visiting there.

In many countries, when you show your passport, it is stamped with the date you must leave. This is called a visa and is issued on the spot. In other countries, such as China, you are required to apply for a visa long in advance of your trip. You cannot show up in the country without prior written permission.

Further, most countries have restrictions on how long one is staying. So for example, if you visit for less than ninety days, you may do so with your passport alone. For longer stays, you will require a visa in advance.

And in some countries, such as those in Africa, a passport must be valid for a set duration after the tourist has left the country. So even though, you have a valid passport when you depart, the passport will not be considered valid if it does not have an expiry date that extends another ninety days and in some cases, one-hundred and twenty.

The biggest point to remember is that if you do not have the correct documentation and just “wing it”, you will be sent home.

#3 Vaccines
You should visit your own doctor before leaving on a foreign vacation to determine whether or not you need specific vaccines. Even more so, you should check with the tourism department or official government website for the country to which you are traveling. If they require any kind of shots, they will also want official proof that you received them. Even if you don’t require anything, most doctors recommend at least getting a tetanus shot because you never know what you might step on or cut your hand on.

#4 Currency Exchange
Don’t assume that your bank has all currencies on hand in a vault. In fact, almost all banks order foreign currency in response to requests from their customers. In most cases, you cannot walk into your bank and expect to get foreign currency on the spot. So this does require some advance notice.

Additionally, you will need to check to determine whether the country to which are traveling accepts your home money in case you need to exchange more while you are there.

#5 Travel and Medical Insurance
This is a must for travelers because we have seen in the news how accidents do happen. And yes, travel insurance is very expensive, but having an operation in a foreign country is going to be that much more expensive and you will not have that kind of money on hand if something goes wrong.

But not only personal accidents happen. You might lose your luggage, your hotel may be a shambles, or the location could be hit by a hurricane and you can no longer stay there. Before you even leave, the package may be canceled and without insurance, you will be out of pocket.

Lastly, you will have to ask about different policies because it is quite possible that both travel and medical will be on the same one.

#6 Safety
Crime is on the rise everywhere and you can be robbed or attacked in your own city. But the thing with traveling is tourists stick out and therefore, are targeted. You really need to be aware of your surroundings when out and about.

Plus, use common sense. Don’t travel with valuables and flash around fancy jewelry. Likewise, when paying for something, make sure your money is hidden, so that you are not showing everything you have in your wallet, purse, or fanny pack.

As well as potential crime, you need to take precautions when it comes to safety gear if you participate in different activities. Just because people in the destination go without a life jacket doesn’t make it any safer. If you would wear one in your own country, wear one there, too. And if taking a ferry on a boat that seems over-crowded, listen to your inner voice, and don’t go.

Check all safety gear such as lines and ropes to ensure they are not frayed and worn. Also, inspect wet suits and oxygen tank tubes for any cuts or sign of damage.

The most important point to safety is not to let your guard down. We often get caught up in the excitement of the moment and forget we are participating in potentially dangerous activities.

Now, please go and enjoy your safe and happy voyage!

This Rick Steve’s Travel Talks video should give you more tips and tricks, especially how to pack efficiently.

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