Traveling outside the country anytime soon to visit your dream destinations? Got everything set and ready? Don’t forget to bring your travel documents! What travel documents, you ask? Truly, we Americans are not that accustomed to carrying travel papers at all times. Usually a government-issued ID card or driver’s license is enough to prove our age or identity to someone. However, if you’re traveling internationally, there’s more to the picture.
Your number one international travel must-have is your passport. If you don’t have a passport yet, apply early for one, ideally even before booking your trip. It should be valid for at least six months after you return home, and needs to have two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter. If you are traveling with your kids, do check the validity of their passports too, which usually is just five years. U.S. citizens must use a U.S. passport to leave and come back to the United States. In addition, if you are traveling by land or sea, you must show proof of both your U.S. citizenship and your identity when you return to the United States.
Proof of Identity
There are instances where you may not feel the need to bring your passport, such is the case in domestic travel. Instead, either a driver’s license or an ID card may be presented. However, do make sure that it’s accurate, and there are no inconsistencies with the rest of your travel documents. Also, make sure it’s not about to expire or already expired. If you’re flying domestically to Canada, Mexico, or islands in the Caribbean, you may be required more identification. Birth Certificates used to be accepted at those border crossings, but that’s no longer true. Moral lesson? Just have your passport ready.
You may need to get a visa before you travel to certain destinations. A visa is a stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government, allowing you to enter their country. Visas are not required for Americans or Canadians traveling in Western Europe and most of the East. For more information, just contact the embassy of the foreign countries you will be visiting. We also recently posted an article about countries and territories that you can visit without a visa. Click here to find out more.
Get a letter from your doctor for medications you are bringing. Some countries have strict laws, even against over-the-counter medications, so read about your destination before you go. Also, if you are traveling alone with children, foreign border officials may require custody documents or written consent from the other parent. Make two photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from your documents in case of loss or theft.