How to Plan for Travel: Prepping Your Travel Documents


Are your travel documents in order?

How to Plan for Travel: Prepping Your Travel Documents


This is Part 6 in my How to Plan for Travel countdown series with one blog post per month containing travel tips to get my family, friends, clients and you ready to go for your next vacation overseas. From August 1 through June 30, I’ll be counting down the tips by how far in advance it’s optimal to plan. If you stumble across this blog post in February, and you’re planning a trip in May, you’re not too late. You’ll just have to do things a little more quickly.



How can I get organized for travel: 4-6 months before


How to Plan for Travel: Prepping Your Travel Documents


We’ve all watched this kind of scene in a movie:

Two guards walk up to a meek tourist and demand, “Where are your papers?!?!”


If you’re Jason Bourne, you can magically discover your martial arts abilities and run away. If you’re not Jason Bourne, you’ll want to make sure your papers are in order.

Technically, you shouldn’t be allowed into the country without proper documentation, so in theory you shouldn’t have anything to worry about once you’re “in”, but you always want to make sure you know what documentation is expected in case you’re lucky the one who is asked for your papers. By the way, how do you get “in”?


1. Passport

If you plan to leave the U.S., you must have a passport. Some countries require you to have a passport that has been valid for at least six months before entry, or stay valid for six months after leaving. For example, if you plan to land in France on June 15 and leave on July 15, your passport must be valid until at least October 15. (In other words, no about-to-expire passports!) Click here for how to obtain a new passport or renew your current one.

Click here to check on your destination country’s entry and exit requirements.

Google this phrase to check on country validity requirements:

“how long does a passport need to be valid before being allowed to enter XYZ country


The U.S. State Department offers a passport card. It’s good for ground entry from Canada and Mexico. It’s not good for international air travel. I decided to purchase one when I renewed my passport just to see if I’m allowed to carry it around with me overseas in lieu of lugging around my passport while I’m sightseeing.


2. Visa

Many countries in Asia and Africa and some in Europe require Americans to acquire visas. Some countries require you to mail your passport and application to their embassy or a special service. Other countries allow you to purchase your visa with exact change in their monetary unit upon landing in their country. Check here on your destination country’s visa requirements.



3. International Driver’s License

If you plan to drive a vehicle overseas, find out here if you’ll be required to carry an International Driver’s License. If so, this same web page has a link to where you can apply for one.



4. Medical Requirements


Some countries require specific inoculations or proof of health screenings before being allowed to enter. Check here to see if you destination country has these entry requirements. While you’re on this page, read about health insurance coverage, and be sure that your policy covers overseas healthcare.


If you know of anyone who’s visited the places you’re planning to see, ask them about their experience. What are their tips and tricks? Travelers love to share their stories.


Bon voyage!



How to Plan for Travel series:

Part 1: Budget

Part 2: Set your travel goals

Part 3: How to choose your accommodations 

Part 4: How to choose your transportation

Part 5: How to develop your daily itinerary

Part 6: What documentation do you need?

Next time: Credit cards, debit cards and travelers checks – oh my!

About Helene Segura

Helene Segura teaches go-getters how to use their time more efficiently in order to have a more peaceful life. For details about her, be sure to visit

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