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Overseas Travel
While traveling abroad can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, you need to plan for issues that don't arise in domestic travel. Here are some tips to make your overseas travel more enjoyable. 

General Tips
Travel Documents
Vaccinations
Clearing Customs
Itinerary
Packing
Jet Lag


General Tips

 
  • Once your itinerary is set, make as many advance reservations as possible. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times.

  • Ask your ASTA travel agent about State Department information on the countries you will visit. The agent's computer reservations system should list travel advisories. For details, call the U.S. State Department at 202.647.5225 or view travel warnings on the State Department website.

  • Carry the address and telephone number of the U.S. embassy or consulate for each country. In case of difficulties, contact U.S. authorities promptly. If you plan to stay in a foreign country for an extended period, register and leave your itinerary with the embassy or consulate.

  • When traveling abroad, avoid being alone. Being by yourself makes you an easier target for pickpockets and muggers.

  • Carry your bags and other personal items securely. If you carry a shoulder bag, keep it closed at all times, clutched between the arm and body. Do not carry a wallet in your hip pocket or inside jacket pocket. Empty the wallet of all unnecessary items and carry it in your front pants pocket.

  • If you find yourself near a civil disturbance or other dangerous situation, move away quietly and inconspicuously. Do not run. If this is not possible, take cover behind the nearest shelter and stay there until danger passes.

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Travel Documents
Depending on the country you plan to visit, you will probably need a passport, and perhaps a visa or tourist card.

To obtain a passport application, contact the nearest Passport Agency, one of the many federal or state courts, or a U.S. Post Office that accepts passport applications. Visas are available from the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting or from a "visa service" which will get your visa processed for a nominal fee.

In both cases, apply for your travel documents several months in advance of your scheduled departure to avoid peak season delays.

Remember, your passport is your most valuable travel document when you are in a foreign country. Keep a copy of your passport number in a safe, separate place and immediately report the loss or theft of your passport or visa to the U.S. embassy or consulate and the local police authorities.

Make several copies of your passport, traveler's checks, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets and other travel documents. Leave one copy with a relative or friend back home and carry one copy with you. 

Take most of your money in traveler's checks and record the serial numbers, denominations and date and location of the issuing agency. Remove all unnecessary credit cards from your wallet. Be sure to carry your credit card company's telephone number in case your card is lost or stolen. Always report losses immediately.

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Vaccinations
Certain countries may require an "International Certificate of Vaccinations" against cholera, yellow fever and other infectious diseases before you are allowed to enter. Specific information on entry requirements can be obtained from your ASTA travel agent, physician or the embassy of the country you will be visiting.

As an added precaution, make sure that your measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria and tetanus shots are up to date. You can also check with the Citizens Emergency Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (202.647.5225), or the Centers for Disease Control at 404.639.3311 for up-to-date information on epidemics or unsafe conditions in your planned destination.

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Clearing Customs
U.S. residents must declare the total value of all articles acquired abroad which are in their or their family's possession at the time of arrival. The amount of duty will be determined by a Customs officer. U.S. residents are normally entitled to an exemption of $400, though this varies depending on the country you visited. 

Both residents and non-residents will normally be required to pay a flat 10% rate of duty on the first $1,000 above their exemptions. More information is available from U.S. Customs.

When you are preparing for your trip home, try to pack all your new purchases in one bag and keep all your receipts in one place. This information will come in handy when you go through Customs.

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Itinerary
Make several photocopies of your passport, visa, itinerary, airline ticket and other travel documents. Leave one copy at home with a relative or friend and take another copy with you. 

If you are planning to stay in a foreign country for an extended length of time, it is wise to register with the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country.

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Packing
Try not to take more luggage than you can reasonably carry by yourself. Porters and luggage carts are not always available and less luggage means easier Customs inspections and a shorter wait at the baggage claim. 

Also, airlines have regulations on size, weight and number of bags you can check or carry on board. Pay close attention to these restrictions on overseas flights because excess baggage can be very costly. Check with the airlines or your ASTA travel agent for information on individual carrier's luggage allowance policies.

  • Choose luggage that is lightweight and flexible, yet durable enough to withstand rough treatment. Make sure all your luggage is in good condition: airlines can refuse to accept fragile or damaged bags.
  • Pack firmly. Clothes that move around usually come out wrinkled. Anticipate that you will do some shopping at your destination and include a folding tote bag to accommodate the overflow of your new purchases.
  • Luggage identification is important. Make sure that your bags have the correct information both inside and outside and that the luggage tag is securely fastened. Remove old claim tags that might confuse the baggage handlers.
  • Attach a brightly colored ribbon or sticker to your luggage to help distinguish your bags from similar ones in the baggage claim area.

More packing tips

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Jet Lag
After crossing several time zones, many travelers suffer from "jet lag." Although there is no way to completely avoid jet lag, there are a number of ways to help your body adjust to a new time zone.

  • Try to go to bed a little earlier a few days before you leave and get as much sleep as you can during your flight.
  • Many side-effects of jet lag are the result of dehydration, so avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages and drink plenty of water during your flight.
  • Eat lightly on your flight and forego rich or exotic foods on the first few days of your trip so that you can use your energy to adjust to your new surroundings rather than to digest your food.
  • Exercising on a long flight will help alleviate such common discomforts as backaches, swollen legs and feet and general fatigue. Stretch at regular intervals and walk up and down the aisles of the plane from time to time to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.
  • Finally, take it easy on the day you arrive so that you can take advantage of your trip at a leisurely pace and establish a routine in sync with the local time.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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