Please note: Most of these tips are based on regulations for US citizens. Regardless of where you live, or what your nationality is, we strongly suggest that you check your local laws and regulations before you plan a trip beyond the borders of your homeland.
- If you are a US citizen heading overseas, you should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the US Government. This free service allows U.S. citizens, including nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. This will allow them to send you important info regarding safety conditions in your planned destinations, to contact you and/or assist friends and family in contacting you in case of an emergency.
- Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months past your intended travel date. Many countries now require that passports are valid for an additional 3-6 months beyond your departure date. If you are traveling to one of these countries and you do not have the required validity, the airline can deny you boarding, or worse, you could be denied entry to the country upon arrival and have to turn around and head right back home. You can check for various countries requirements at https://travel.stat.gov You should probably bookmark this site if you are a frequent traveler anyway. You can find a wealth of info here about the country you are visiting, from whether or not you need a visa to security info and travel alerts.
- Familiarize yourself with the Shengen Agreement. This is a treaty between 26 European countries, where border checks are no longer in place for most types of short-term tourism. This is important to know about for certain travel situations. For example, if you are traveling between Shengen countries, i.e. on a bus tour for a day, you should keep your passport with you, because although there may not be a border check at the time you are planning your trip, it could be reinstated at any time without notice, so you need to be prepared.
There will be New Requirements in addition to valid passports for visiting Shengen Countries as of 2021. According to the Shengen info website:
“ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS have started in 2016, and the system is expected to be in place by 2021.
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa.”
If you go to the Shengen website, (https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/etias/check/, you can check if you will need to apply for an ETIAS Authorization or a Schengen Visa before traveling to Schengen Area.
- Can’t hurt to ask: Check with your travel agent, tour operator, airline carrier or cruise line for any additional travel requirements, i.e. visas etc.
- Protect Your Investment and Yourself with Travel Insurance. Stuff happens. Flights get delayed, connections are missed, luggage gets lost, a family member at home becomes ill, a dental or medical emergency occurs while you are abroad. (Most US insurance companies do not cover doctor visits or healthcare outside of the USA.) Then there are also hurricanes, fires, floods and other examples of Mother Nature’s wrath. You are likely plunking down a significant sum for your vacation, make sure that your investment is protected with travel insurance from a reputable company. There is a chance that your credit card covers some of your trip- but make sure to read the policies carefully. They may only cover the trip if you paid for the entire trip with that card, and may only cover baggage, flight delays and/or missed connections. Find out if they cover emergency medical treatment and/or emergency medical evacuation. Also good to know is if they cover cancellation or trip interruption as a result of weather related issues. For quotes and more information, click here https://www.travelexinsurance.com/quote/?nc=1 and make sure to use location number 09-0878.