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Passports, Visas & Travel Documents

Without the right travel documents (passport and/or visa), you won’t be going anywhere outside your home country.  One of the things you should do while in the initial planning stages of your trip is make sure you have all of your paperwork in order for your destination.  How do you know what travel documents you’ll need for where you’re headed?  A good place to start, if you’re a US citizen is right here.  If you’re a UK citizen, try starting here.

Passports

You now need a passport to travel anywhere internationally.  If you don’t have a passport, make sure you start the application process in plenty of time to get your passport before your departure.  The late spring and summer season have the longest wait times.  US citizens can find out more about applying for a passport on the State Department’s website.  Residents of other country should check with their local passport authority.  You’ll want to make sure that your passport has at least six months left on it as well as enough blank pages for entry/exit stamps from the country you’re visiting.

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]You should make at least two copies of your passport before leaving. Leave one at home in case your passport is lost while traveling. Keep the other with you and carry it at your destination and store your passport in your hotels safe. We also store copies of our passport in a password-secured, encrypted file on a website so we can have access to it from anywhere we can access the internet.[/box]

Travel Visas

Don’t know if you need a visa for your destination?  Start by checking right here.  An important thing you need check is to see if there are any limitations as to how soon you can get your visa before you actually enter the country. You don’t want to get it too soon or it may not be valid.  You don’t want to get it too late, or you won’t have it  in time for your trip. If you’ll be needing a visa, you’ll need to make sure that you have a blank page for each one required as each one requires a single page.  When getting a visa, you’ll be sending your passport off for to a consulate or embassy for a few weeks, so make sure you won’t need it while it’s out of your possession. 

We’ve never used a passport or visa service.  Unless you’re traveling last minute, they can be very expensive for something you can easily do on your own.  You should make a copy of your passport before sending it off, just in case something goes awry.  You’ll also want to send your passport to the consulate using certified mail with a return receipt or express mail.

[box type=”note” ]Once you receive your visa, look at it and make sure that it is signed and that no required information is missing. There has been an occasion when we received a visa that was not signed. The last thing you need is an issue at immigration in a foreign country.[/box]

Itineraries & Confirmations

You should take a copy of all your confirmation emails from airlines, hotels, car rental firms, etc., and not just the confirmation number.  When traveling internationally, it’s always better to have the complete confirmation to avoid confusion.  This is especially important if you booked through a third party and not directly with the airline or hotel.  Some foreign airlines require you to have your e-ticket receipt.  You may also need it to prove to immigration in the country you are visiting that you have an outward bound ticket.

[box type=”note” align=”alignleft” ]You should register your destination and trip plans with the US Department of State before you leave the country. In case of a national emergency or problem in the country you are visiting, the local embassy will know where you are.[/box]

Make sure to leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or relative.  In case of emergency it will make it easier for them to contact you.  An easy way to manage your itineraries is to use tripit.com.  You can build your itinerary piece by piece as you make reservations and when you’re done, you can automatically post it on the web, share it with others via email or PDF and more.

[box type=”note” align=”alignleft” ]In addition to taking paper copies of our confirmations, we also upload encrypted copies to a secure website as a backup.[/box]
 


 

 

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