Tips for Traveling Abroad
Travelers should familiarize themselves with their destinations, both to get the most enjoyment out of the visit and to avoid known dangers. Travelers should also be aware of restrictions on items that may be taken overseas (see Bringing Medications or Filling Prescriptions Abroad) and even on items that may be brought into the U.S. upon return (see Customs and Import Restrictions).
Entry Requirements of Foreign Countries
- To view information about entry requirements maintained on the website of the country you plan to visit, go to its embassy’s or consulate’s website, which may be found here.
- To view the “Entry/Exit Requirements” section of the State Department’s Country Specific Information for the country you plan to visit, go here.
If a visa is required by the country you will visit, obtain it from the appropriate foreign consular representative before proceeding abroad. Allow sufficient time for processing your visa application, especially if you are applying by mail. Most foreign consular representatives in the U.S. are located in principal cities, and, in many instances, a traveler may be required to obtain the visa from the consular office in the area of his/her residence. As soon as you receive your visa, check it to make sure no mistakes were made. Processing and visa fees vary, and fees may not be refundable.
What to Take With You on the Trip, and What to Leave Behind
Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:
- Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry
- Irreplaceable family objects
- All unnecessary credit cards
- Social Security card, library card, and similar items that may be in your wallet
Do bring medical necessities
Leave Copies of Documents and Itinerary With Relatives in the U.S.
Leave a copy of the itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.
Make two photocopies of the passport identification page, airline tickets, driver’s license and the credit cards you plan to take. Leave one copy of each with family or friends at home, and pack the other copies separately from the originals. Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your travelers’ checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list.
Plan for the Unexpected
Take with you items that you will need if your trip is unexpectedly extended. These items may include extra money or medications.
Assistance from American Consuls
U.S. consular officers are located in over 260 Foreign Service posts abroad. In addition, consular agents in approximately 46 foreign cities without U.S. embassies or consulates provide a more limited but still important series of emergency and other consular services.
Providing assistance to Americans during a crisis abroad, such as political upheaval or a natural disaster, is one of the most critical tasks consular officer perform. During a crisis, consular officers look for missing Americans and help Americans return to the U.S., among many other duties to assist Americans. The State Department strongly encourages American citizens planning travel abroad to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so that we may find you during a crisis. It is free, it’s confidential, and it’s easily accomplished here online.
Consuls also advise and help Americans who are in serious legal, medical or financial trouble, including health emergencies, arrests, deaths, missing persons, and destitution. For information about emergency assistance to Americans in trouble abroad, go here.
Additional Emergency Information
- Finding a hospital or doctor abroad:
- Victims of crime
- Financial emergencies or destitution
- Obtaining funds from the U.S. (OCS trust)
- Missing Persons
- Passport Replacement
For more information that can help you plan a wonderful (and trouble-free) trip, go here.