5 Things to Do Before You Travel Abroad
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5 Things to Do Before You Travel Abroad

It’s an unfortunate reality of life – sometimes you have to take care of nitty-gritty tasks before you can get to the fun. We’ve all had a share of times we’ve had to fill out paperwork or find the right supplies for an anticipated event. Traveling is certainly no different, but what may be different now is the lead time.

These days it’s taking longer to complete certain steps for travel, so you don’t want to wait. Here are five things to do before you travel abroad.

1.) Ensure You Have a Valid Passport and/or Visa

It can take months to get a new passport, so if your teen does not have a valid passport, this is a task that shouldn’t wait.

The U.S. Department of State tracks processing times on its website. It can take about two weeks for a passport application to be considered “in process.” Once that begins, the processing time for a routine passport is currently 8-11 weeks.

You can pay extra for expedited processing. With that service, the processing time decreases to 5-7 weeks or a total of up to 9 weeks.

You must apply in person if you are applying for a first passport, your child is under 16, or if your child’s previous passport was issued before the age of 16. (Check the expiration date on an older passport!)

Passports can be renewed online if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have your current undamaged passport in your possession
  • It was issued when you were age 16 or older
  • It was issued within the last 15 years (Expired passports can be renewed if they were issued within this 15-year window at the age of 16 or older)
  • It was issued with your current name or you can document a name change

Go online to view the necessary documents and other steps for renewing a passport and for applying in person.

There are some countries where your teen may also need a visa. If that’s the case, U.S. passport holders can contact G3 Visas for more information. International travelers can contact CIBT Visas.

2.) Get Any Necessary Vaccinations

Vaccination recommendations will vary by country, but this is another area where you’ll need to plan ahead. A number of recommended vaccinations require a series of inoculations or have to be taken a certain period of time before travel in order to be effective.

We recommend that you start taking action on vaccines at least eight weeks prior to travel. You can view Rustic’s vaccine page for more detailed information on vaccines.

This includes links to:

3.) Get Health Paperwork and Medications in Order

It’s important to check that you have whatever health paperwork and medications are necessary before traveling. This includes whatever Covid vaccine or testing information is needed at the time of travel. Rustic has a Covid page for more information. You’ll need to check the requirements for your destination a few weeks before travel.

Aside from this, it’s important to have any necessary prescription medications ready to go. You don’t want to find out right before a trip that your teen’s asthma inhaler is empty and the prescription is expired.

For important medications, it may be useful to travel with some extra in case some are lost or a flight delay extends a trip. It isn’t always easy or possible to refill a prescription while abroad.

It’s important that all medications are clearly labeled and that you have a copy of your prescription. For some medications, it’s helpful to have a note from your doctor. This may include Epipens and insulin.

The CDC has more information on traveling internationally with medication.

4.) Settle on Transportation Plans

If you’re using Rustic’s air service for international travel, this part is taken care of. However, you’ll need to plan in advance how your teen will get to the hub airport or what flights may be available if your family is choosing to handle airline travel on your own.

Airfare can be more expensive if you wait. It also may be harder to get the times you need to make connections with your teen’s Rustic group. Planning in advance may be even more important if you’re using airline miles, since those seats are often limited.

5.) Get the Right Baggage, Clothes, Sleeping Bag

In this day and age, you never know when a supply chain issue may hold you up from the perfect item you want for a trip. As just one example, supply issues are mentioned as a challenge on the website of one brand of sandals recommended for some programs. If you need a certain size, you may have to wait.

To get started, look at your program’s packing list long before the trip. It’s located on the individual program pages. You can start with the things that may be the most important for comfort, such as an easy-to-carry bag and the perfect sleeping bag. Then you can go from there.

Bonus: Learn about the Destination

This may not be essential, but it’s helpful – and certainly fun – to learn about the place you’re going. Look at a map online. Read about the local communities. Re-read the itinerary. Get ready for an adventure!

To get more details about your destination, visit our program page and search our blog for country specific information.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer

Mary is a Content Writer at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.