When COVID-19 hit, everyone postponed their travel plans. Since then, most people are planning their future travels at home while waiting for the pandemic to end, if not subside. Fortunately, with the vaccination programs rolling out, there is hope for travel to resume again in the future.

If you’re looking for a fun activity at home, why not plan your next international trip? Decide on where to go, where to stay, maybe find a same-day laundry service for your clothes, so you can pack right away. Also, you have to think about the more serious aspects of traveling: finances, visa and insurance.

Instead of binge-watching Friends Christmas episodes, do something productive like planning for a future trip. If you don’t know where to start, follow this checklist to make sure your travel plans will go off without a hitch.

Make Sure Your Visa and Passport are Up-To-Date

Many countries require that your passport should be valid for six months after your return date. According to the U.S. Department of State, you should renew your passport at least nine months before it expires.

Check your passport’s expiration date now and see if you need to renew. If you do, check the State Department’s website to find your nearest passport facility. Apply for a new passport wait for 10 to 12 weeks for the application to be processed. If you need your passport to be processed faster, the Department offers an expedited service for an additional fee. You can receive your passport within four to six weeks.

The same rule applies to your visa. Check its expiration date and apply as soon as needed.

Learn More About Health Advisories and Travel Warnings

COVID-19 is still at large. The virus is affecting different countries across the globe in different ways. Unlike before, you can’t travel to wherever you want, whenever. So, before your next trip, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website for the most current information, including updates on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing (both of which may be required for international travels).

Also, check your state’s department website to learn if the national government has issued travel warnings for countries with long-term COVID-19 issues. Check for travel alerts too to learn more about countries with short-term conditions that pose threats to travelers.

Get Vaccinated and Fill Your Prescription

Before you travel, get vaccinated. Apart from getting COVID-19 vaccinations, learn about other vaccination requirements for your destination. For instance, some countries require vaccines for the Zika virus, cholera and yellow fever. For maximum protection, get any of the required vaccinations six weeks before you leave. If you’re traveling to a country where a certain disease is rampant, consult with a travel medicine professional first or change your destination.

The CDC’s website is also a good source of information on the health risks associated with the food and water of your destination. The CDC also recommends non-prescription items to pack and other health tips.

Have All the Acceptable Payment Methods Available

Choose a credit card or two to bring with you and let your card issuers know the countries you’ll be visiting. Otherwise, you risk having a denied credit card. Reduce your risk for fraud by leaving behind cards that you don’t plan to use for the trip.

Foreign exchange is still an option but if you wish to lessen physical contact (which increases your risk for COVID-19), best to go with cards. Traveler’s checks are no longer universally accepted, so you may experience trouble with them. If you want to use money, use your bank card to withdraw from the local ATMs.

Buy Travel Insurance

Your health insurance will not cover during your international travels. Depending on where you’re going, buy emergency medical insurance and medical evacuation. Also, if your trip is booked months in advance or requires a large down payment, trip cancellation and interruption insurance offer valuable protection from unprecedented events.

Do Your Homework Before You Travel

Doing your research prepares you for the best travel experience. The more you know about the customs and history of your destination, the more you can enjoy your journey. Here are examples to get you started:

  • Know how much to tip.
  • Avoid bringing miniskirts, shorts and tank tops if you are visiting a conservative country.
  • Learn to say simple phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting, such as “good morning” and “thank you.”

COVID-19 may have postponed your travel plans in 2020, but the future is looking a bit hopeful. As the world continues to heal from the pandemic, you can look forward to traveling soon enough. So while you’re staying safe at home, start planning for your next travels today!

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