Experiencing foreign cultures or returning to your homeland? Follow our tips to make your trip memorable.
- Current travel information can be obtained through the U.S. Department of State. They track all travel warnings and alerts, so before heading off to a foreign country, it's best to identify any threatening situations. To learn more, visit their Web site at http://travel.state.gov/.
- Pack clothes that blend in. No matter where you are, it's always safest to fit in with the crowd. Dressing simple and limiting the amount of expensive gadgets and jewelry you bring along makes you less of a target for international crime.
- Instead of cash, bring travelers checks and a major credit card. Travelers checks can only be used when signed by you and your bank, so they're very safe for traveling. Most major credit cards have theft identification as well, so in the event that you lose your wallet, you'll be protected stateside.
- Keep medication in clearly labeled, original bottles. This will help you move more easily through customs. To further alleviate worries, get a note from your doctor verifying your use of the medication.
- Follow standard airport guidelines. Traveling is always easier when you arrive ahead of time.
- Register with the U.S. embassy. Registering with the U.S. embassy makes your whereabouts known, and if you do encounter any crime, they can help resolve the issue quickly.
- For safety on the streets, use your best judgment. Don't take poorly lit or unpopulated shortcuts. If you're traveling with companions, stick together. Try to keep a low profile and blend in with the locals. Keep your important belongings, like your passport and money, in a safe location. Many travelers wear passport bags that hang in front, rather than on the sides or back, reducing the risk of being pickpocketed.
To apply for a passport in person, you must bring:
- Your completed application
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, including one of the following:
- Certified birth certificate
- Previous U.S. passport
- Certificate of birth abroad
- Naturalization certificate
- Certificate of citizenship
- Letter of no record issued by the state and one or more
- Baptismal certificate
- Hospital birth certificate
- Census record
- Early school record
- Family Bible record
- Doctor's record of post-natal care
- Present proof of identity
- Driver's license
- Military ID
- Government ID
- Two passport photos (2” x 2”)
- Social Security Number
Passport photos can be taken at your local post office and various other locations.
You'll also have to pay a fee, ranging from $82 to $97 depending on your age. Expedited shipment of your passport incurs an additional cost. It can sometimes take two weeks or more for your passport to arrive, so plan accordingly. Learn more at the U.S. Department of State's official travel site: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html.
- Planning an exotic vacation to parts unknown? Before leaving, it's best to check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccination standards. Some countries have unique disease threats that require added immunization before entering their borders. Learn more about the country you're traveling to at the CDC's Travelers' Health Web page: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.