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This Electronic Research Collection archive provides access to older State Department documents as a research collection of scholarly interest. For more current information, see the main State Department web site at http://www.state.gov

Travel Preparation and Planning


Travel Itinerary

DO NOT publicize your travel plans, but limit that knowledge to those who need to know. Leave a full itinerary of your travel schedule, hotel phone numbers and business appointments with your office and with a family member or friend.

Passport

Is it valid? Are the visas current for the country of destination? If not, you and everything in your possession, may be looked at in-depth by host government authorities. If you are carrying documents that are sensitive or proprietary, they will be examined in detail to see if there is anything that would be of interest. If there is, you can bet that copies will be made, and there is not much that you will be able to do about it.

Make photocopies of your passport, visa and other important documents that you will be traveling with. Put copies in both your carry on and checked luggage. This makes it easier to replace your identification documents should anything happen. (Also, it is a good idea to leave a photocopy with someone at home.)

Visas

Is a visa required for any of the countries that you are visiting and do you have the appropriate visa(s)? Is the information on your visa application true and correct? In some countries, falsifying information on a visa application can result in an unexpected vacation in the local bastille.

Some countries are sensitive to which visa you obtain. If you are traveling on business, a business visa should be obtained; otherwise a tourist visa is acceptable.

Medical

Take plenty of any prescription medication with you, as well as an extra set of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Also, take a copy of your prescription should you need to have glasses, contacts or medication replaced. Keep an inoculation record and update it before each trip as each country has different requirements.

Carry with you a list with your blood type, allergies, medical conditions and special requirements. It is a good idea to have a medical alert bracelet if you have a special medical condition.

Inoculations Does the country to be visited require any specific inoculations? This information is available from the embassy or consulate. Be sure to carry your international shot record, just in case.

If you do not have comprehensive medical coverage, consider enrolling in an international health program. Hospitals in foreign countries do not take credit cards and most will not honor U.S. based medical insurance plans.

Miscellaneous

Keep your personal affairs up to date. If possible, leave a power of attorney with a family member or friend should anything happen to you.

Do research on the country you will be traveling to before you go. Talk with friends, family or business associates who have visited the country. They can usually give you some good tips for your trip. Also, for any travel warnings or other conditions that you should be aware of, check with the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Travelers should discuss with their travel agents, which airlines, hotels and car rental companies are recommended.

Carry in your wallet/pocketbook only the documents you will need. Take only the credit cards you plan to use on your trip.

If you plan to rent a car, check to see if you must obtain an international drivers permit for the country you plan to visit.

Obtain information from U.S. Customs regarding any special requirements for the country you are visiting.

Local Import Restrictions

Request from the embassy of the country you plan to visit a copy of any list or pamphlet describing customs restrictions or banned materials. This is a hint designed to minimize the possibility of an encounter with the local authorities.

Leave all expensive and heirloom jewelry at home.

Luggage

DO NOT pack sensitive or proprietary information in your checked luggage. Double envelope the material and hand carry it. Be sure that your luggage is tagged with covered tags that protect your address from open observation. Put your name and address inside each piece of luggage and be sure that all luggage is locked or secured in some fashion.

Luggage Locks

The locks on your luggage are not that secure when it comes to the professional thief or manipulator and are really no more than a deterrent. But, if time is of the essence to the perpetrator, and it usually is when a crime is involved, there are a couple of suggestions that might deter surreptitious entry and/or theft.

For added security on all luggage, run a strip of nylon filament tape around the suitcase to preclude its opening accidentally if dropped or mistreated by baggage handlers.

For luggage and briefcases with two combination locks, reset the combination locks from the factory combination (000) to different combinations on each of the right and left locks.

For luggage with single locks, set the lock on each piece of luggage with a different combination.

DO NOT pack extra glasses or necessary daily medication in your luggage. Carry it in your briefcase, purse or pocket. If you are the victim of a hijacking you may need these items if they are in your luggage, you probably will not be able to get to them.

On your luggage use your business address and telephone number. If possible, use a closed name tag with a cover. Do not use a laminated business card on your luggage, and avoid putting the company name or any logos on your luggage.

Check with the airline and/or your personal insurance company regarding any lost luggage coverage.

Make sure you use sturdy luggage. Do not over pack as the luggage could open if dropped. Bind the luggage with strapping so that it will remain intact.

Never place your valuables (jewelry, money and travelers cheques) in your checked luggage. Never leave your bags unattended.

Consider obtaining a modest amount of foreign currency before you leave your home country. Criminals often watch for and target international travelers purchasing large amounts of foreign currency at airport banks and currency exchange windows.

Airline Security and Seat Selection

Try to book a non-stop flight, as these have fewer takeoffs and landings.

Choose an airline with a good safety and on-time record.

Try to make your stopovers in airports that have a high security standard and good security screening.

Try to fly wide body planes. Hijackers tend to avoid these as having too many passengers.

Most travelers prefer an aisle seat. Choose a window or center seat. This will keep you away from the hijackers and any action that may be happening in the aisle.



Last Updated: March 2, 1996