You have saved and waited for what seems like an eternity for that one special vacation of your lifetime. But are you really ready for the trip? Traveling outside of the United States can be (and most of the time is) quite different. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be stressful. As you plan your trip and you visit these destinations as part of senior trips there are certain things that you should take care of. The following paragraphs are going to guide you how you can plan your trip with any stress.
First things first. Make sure that your plans are well thought out and that you can afford not only the trip itself, but also for any emergency that might arise during your time outside of the U.S. Most people are so focused on the trip itself, that they neglect to plan for anything that might arise out of the ordinary. One good example would be health care for an unforeseen medical emergency. Does your medical coverage in the United States cover for medical expenses out of the country? Many insurance carriers in the U.S. do offer limited coverage outside of the country but they require additional documents. You should contact your insurance carrier prior to departing on your foreign trip to ensure that they send you these documents. Without these documents, you could be liable for all medical costs which could run into the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.
If your personal medical insurance does not provide additional coverage outside of the United States, you have the option of purchasing Travel Medical Insurance. There are quite a few carriers on the internet that provide such services (www.mnui.com, www.MEDEXassist.com, www.TravelHealthInsurance.com are just a few to mention). These carriers offer varying amounts of coverage depending upon your needs. The rates also vary upon the traveler’s age, just as life insurance at home would. Some offer different amounts of deductibles which could offer some monetary relief only if you should not need it. Choose wisely upon your needs. Remember, nobody goes on vacation expecting to be injured or even sadly enough, killed.
In order to travel abroad these days, a passport is a necessity. Most countries will not allow you to enter their land without it, and unfortunately we now live in an age where you will not be granted entry back into the United States without it. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to obtain this very important form of identification. A passport identifies you as a citizen and grants you the rights of the issuing country. Information regarding obtaining a U.S. Passport can be found at the State Department website, http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738_2.html.
If you should already own a passport, you need to ensure that you have plenty of time left on it before the expiration date. Many countries discourage foreigners traveling to their country holding passports with less than six months prior to it’s expiration date. In the event of an unexpected long term stay, (ie: a medical emergency). the visitor will have plenty of time on their passport allowing them to stay in their country without complications.
Before finalizing your destination, be sure to check out the State Department’s website for information regarding international travel, or more importantly the advisories and travel warnings (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html). This is especially important if you have not visited that particular country before or speak a limited amount or none of the host language. You will also want to take note of important telephone numbers and addresses of public service officials and the local embassy or consulate.
Prior to traveling to your foreign destination, ensure that you take the time to register your trip with the local consulate. This serves a multi-faceted purpose. In case any national emergency/natural disaster should arise at your foreign location, your home government will know where to contact you in order to evacuate you. They will also know where to contact you in case something should arise back in your home country. Personally, I was once contacted by a local consulate about the death of a family member back here in the United States when I was traveling outside of the country. So you should take the few minutes to register your trip on the State Department website (https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/).
Now that you have some of the logistics out of the way, it’s time to shop for your vacation. No matter which avenue you choose to select or purchase your trip, ensure that you have an appropriate amount of time coming and going. For those that are making connections upon arrival in the United States, make sure that you allow yourself and your family plenty of time in between flights in order clear U.S. Customs and Immigration (ICE). An hour and a half layover might seem like an inconvenience when flying domestically, but it is not nearly enough time when flying internationally. You should also take into account that you will be waiting in line with the masses for a substantial amount of time. You will also more than likely be moving from one area of the airport to another in order to catch your connecting flight. Sadly, this doesn’t take into account that more than likely your flight will probably not be on time. So error on the side of caution…you might be arriving late.
Once you have made your decision and purchase your trip, make sure that you keep abreast of any possible news events that might originate from your destination. When the date of your trip approaches you should also check out the State Departments Travel and Warnings page once more just in case you need to make any possible changes to your itinerary.
Now that the date of your trip has arrived, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get to the departing airport. Once you have checked in, sit back and relax. Remember, you deserve to be good to yourself. You’re worth it!