Waiting in a winding airport security checkpoint line is just one of many potential headaches today’s travelers experience. Worrying about what to pack, what kind of identification is required, and how much cash to bring are yet others. In order to help ease the stress level before and during your next trip, it might help to review some guidance from the officials who oversee our nation’s travel rules and regulations.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps up-to-date information on all rules and regulations concerning travel by air, rail, and sea. At the organization’s website, vacationers and business travelers alike can review rules and get tips to help make their trips as hassle-free as possible. For example, they can review the “3-1-1 liquids” rule, which states that passengers boarding an aircraft are allowed to carry bottles containing up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of liquid or gels in a single, one quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag. Note that this rule does not apply to prescription or over-the-counters medications, and baby food, baby formula, or breast milk as long as an infant is present. Such liquids, however, are subject to physical inspection.
Other recommendations from the TSA and the U.S. State Department include:
Americans need passports to travel to and from all foreign countries, including Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. This may surprise some vacationers accustomed to showing a picture identification and a birth certificate. Many countries require that your passport will not expire until six months after your trip.
Generally it takes six to eight weeks to receive a passport, but the State Department recommends applying several months in advance. Expedited service is available for additional fees. For more information, visit the State Department’s passport page.
The State Department also recommends familiarizing yourself with your destination prior to arriving. At the State Department’s main travel page, you’ll find links to information to know before and during your trip, such as fact sheets for more than 170 countries. You may also sign up for the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive travel alerts and warnings and to register your trip with the appropriate U.S. Embassy.
Finally, be sure to get any required immunizations and vaccinations at least six weeks prior to departure. The Centers for Disease Control’s Travelers’ Health page provides information for all countries and also offers ideas for maintaining healthy children while traveling.
|Going Abroad? Review These Guidelines.|
|Check with your bank to see if the country you’re visiting has ATMs that will accept your card. |
Keep all medications in their original, labeled containers. For unusual or narcotic medication, carry a note from your doctor attesting to its necessity. This may help you avoid unpleasant delays at customs.
Keep a photocopy of your passport information page and a few extra passport photos separate and ready to access in case your passport is lost or stolen.
If you purchase a calling card, make sure that it is usable from wherever you plan to travel.
Check your health insurance coverage and investigate temporary coverage if necessary. Note that Medicare and Medicaid do not cover medical services outside of the U.S. Seniors should contact the AARP about supplemental Medicare for traveling abroad.
If you use credit cards, keep a close eye on your spending limits. According to the State Department, in some countries exceeding your credit limit is an arrestable offense!
Traveling — especially for vacation — shouldn’t create more stress in an already hectic life. Knowing what to expect before your pack your bags will help ease your troubles while you travel.
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