Advice for Traveling Abroad with Confidence

These international travel tips can help you plan trips outside the United States.

Image of several bicycles parked on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. The season is fall .

From faraway lands to nearby neighbors, traveling to another country offers a unique view into the history and cultures that make up our world. But these unforgettable experiences can also come with unique risks. If you’re planning a trip abroad, these international travel tips can help you be prepared and stay safe:

Increase your awareness before and during travel

The U.S. Department of State advises travelers to refer to the Worldwide Caution list, which and take the appropriate steps to bolster personal security.

Research any warnings for your destination

The State Department provides travel advisories for individual countries, with details on any areas that require extra caution. Travel advisory risks are ranked on a scale from one to four:

  1. Use normal precaution
  2. Use increased precaution
  3. Reconsider travel
  4. Do not travel

Keep in mind that specific regions of a country may have a more severe travel advisory level than the country as a whole. These advisories will provide specific details on the nature of risks, such as natural disaster, crime or terrorism.

Get vaccinated against any local illnesses

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend certain vaccinations based on destination, ages of travelers and other factors.

Make sure your travel documents are valid for your trip—and beyond

Many destinations require that your passport be valid for at least six months after your trip, with some requiring a tourist visa as well. Some countries may also charge an entrance or exit fee, sometimes costing as much as $100. If you plan to drive abroad, get an International Driving Permit, which can be obtained at your local AAA office. It’s also a good idea to leave copies of important travel documents with someone in case they’re lost.

Consider purchasing travel insurance

Travel insurance covers a range of situations that could derail an international trip. For example, most travel insurance providers, such as Allianz, allow you to cancel your trip if an act of terrorism has occurred at the destination within 30 days of your scheduled arrival date—and if the policy was purchased before the incident. You may then receive payment for your non-refundable trip costs.

Enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

By enrolling in this free service, you make it easier for the embassy or nearest consulate to contact you with local updates or in case of emergency.

Allow for longer delays in transit

Going through customs takes extra time, while places such as airports, train stations and metro stations may have tightened security. Avoid missing your travel connections by factoring in extra time as you travel.

Remember, you can contact your travel providers and AAA Travel Consultant directly. In times of crisis, some airlines, hotels and car rental services may allow you to cancel or alter itineraries with no additional fee.

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