Tips for traveling abroad

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For many people, there’s perhaps nothing more exciting than traveling to a new country. But before you take off on an international adventure, consider what a little preparation and a few precautions can do to prevent unexpected headaches.

Obtain and copy necessary documentation
Most U.S. citizens need a valid U.S. passport for international travel. Although some countries allow you to enter with just a birth certificate and driver’s license, all people traveling abroad by air must have a valid passport to reenter the U.S. Those traveling by land or sea must have proof of both their U.S. citizenship and identity; in many of these cases, a U.S. passport will suffice.

It can take up to six weeks to receive a passport, so plan accordingly. Expedited options are available at an additional cost.

Lastly, be sure to make copies of your passport, itinerary, airline tickets and other important documents. Leave one set with a friend or relative at home and carry the other set with you, separately from the originals.

Plan ahead to stay healthy
Some countries require inoculations and other medical preparations before entering. Research your destination at www.travel.state.gov or www.cdc.gov/travel/

Many health insurance companies don’t cover policyholders while they are out of the country. Contact your insurer to find out if you have coverage while traveling abroad, and if any restrictions apply. You can typically purchase short-term supplemental health coverage from an insurance company, travel agent, tour operator, or cruise line. These policies are often combined with medical evacuation coverage, which helps defray the costs of an emergency medical trip back home.

Carry any prescription medications in their original, labeled containers and pack them in your carry-on luggage. Ask your doctor to write a letter explaining your need for the medications. Some countries restrict the types of medications allowed into the country without medical documentation.

Lastly, review the options for health care at your destination before you arrive.

Avoid costly mistakes
Planning to use your mobile phone? Contact your carrier and review your plan for international roaming. Calling, texting and posting updates to social media sites can be extremely expensive if you don’t plan ahead.

Similarly, ask your credit or debit card issuer about foreign transaction fees. Since many do not charge these fees, it may pay to shop around. Also, inform your card companies that you will be traveling so they don’t suspend your card for suspicious activity while you’re away.

If you plan to use cash or traveler’s checks, keep some on your person and some in a separate, safe location. Also, before deciding to use traveler’s checks, be sure to confirm they are readily accepted, and check exchange rates.

Consider travel/luggage insurance
In addition to supplemental health insurance coverage, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance, particularly if the peace of mind outweighs the premium.

Although most airlines will reimburse passengers for luggage lost during transit, you might want to consider baggage insurance for protection when your bags are not in the airline’s possession.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

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