Current Requirements for Travelers
This a link to the www.Travel.State.Gov site to assure you that you have the most up to date information.
Passport Processing Times Need to be Considered when planning your trip. For more information see Passport Application Processing Times.
Please Note: The WHTI-compliant documents described below are acceptable for entry or re-entry into the United States. You may be required to present additional or different travel documents when entering foreign countries, including countries in the Western Hemisphere. Before you travel, make sure you know the entry requirements of the country you plan to visit. See Country Specific Information for more information on the country you are traveling to.
|Q.||How long does it take to get a passport?|
Processing times can vary depending on workload and occasional unforeseen
circumstances such as natural disasters. During busier times, such
as the summer travel season, we encourage customers to expedite their
applications if traveling in less than 12 weeks. See Application
Processing Times for more information.
We recommend 2.5-4 months at a minimum.
An e-Passport contains an electronic chip. The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page: the holder's name, date of birth, and other biographic information. An e-Passport also contains a biometric identifier. The United States requires that the chip contain a digital photograph of the holder. All e-Passports issued by Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and the United States have security features to prevent the unauthorized reading or "skimming" of data stored on the e-Passport chip.
|Q.||Where did the name "Honeymoon" come from?|
Here is one reported answer to that question:
It was the accepted practice
in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month
|Q.||Can I take prescription medicine out of the country?|
We recommend, but not require, that passengers bring along any supporting documentation (ID cards, letter from doctor, etc.) regarding their medication needs. We also recommend, but not require, that the label on prescription medications match the passengers boarding pass. If the name on prescription medication label does not match the name of the passenger, the passenger should expect to explain why to the security officers. To ensure a smooth screening process, passengers are encouraged to limit quantities to what is needed for the duration of the flight.
All disability-related equipment, aids, and devices continue to be allowed through security checkpoints once cleared through screening.
For more information on what to expect during security screening, you may want to visit the section written for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions.
(We also recommend asking your doctor to give you a prescription for new meds to keep separate from the actual meds, in case of loss of the medicine so that you can easily replace it.)
For further information go to www.TSA.gov
|Q.||Are Airlines Charging to check a bag?|
Most airlines are now charging for all checked bags! There are many rules and guide lines that are used and each airline could have a different policy. This changes frequently so we will inform you of any charges you may expect as part of our service.
|Q.||How should I pack?|
There are two kinds of travelers in the world: those who packed light
and those who wish they had. To include everything needed in as little
space as possible, follow these helpful guidelines compiled by the
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Some of the most travel-wise
people in the world, ASTA members know the techniques of efficient
packing for all types of travel.
When planning your wardrobe, consider the events you will participate in both day and night and write down a possible outfit for each activity. Crosscheck this list to determine if one piece can cover multiple occasions. Pick clothes that coordinate well together, based around complimentary colors.
Check the weather forecast of the destination and plan accordingly. Also, be sure to know the local traditions, where a t-shirt for dinner could be a serious blunder, or bare shoulders may bar your entrance into such places as St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. For almost all outdoor activities, take pieces that can be layered.
Forget dress clothes for every occasion. The world at large has relaxed its dress code, showing almost universal leniency to tourists. Dark colors – a black dress or blue jacket – will get you through most dinners and plays.
TO PACK OR NOT TO PACK? THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Set aside the pieces you intend to bring and ensure that they are clean and ready to be packed. Contact your travel agent about the hotel’s in-room amenities – such as a hair dryer, an iron and board, soap, shampoo etc. – so you’ll know what to leave behind.
Jewelry – don’t take what you don’t want to lose, and leave behind the flashy pieces that could attract thieves. Keep makeup to a minimum to save space, and leave the perfume behind when scented lotions will work just as well.
When it comes to the question of toiletries, travel kits are always the answer. Having a travel kit perpetually stocked in a waterproof case will save in packing time before the trip and aggravation after arrival. Most personal toiletry items come in inexpensive travel sizes, so purchase these whenever you see them so as not to arrive with a half-empty bottle of your favorite hair gel. And don’t fill bottles up to the very top, for pressure inside the plane may force the contents to expand and overflow.
With each item you intend to bring, visualize how to make it smaller, like photocopying certain pages and maps from the guidebook instead of bringing the entire book. Streamline your daily habits. Bring only one bottle of all-purpose lotion instead of multiple lotions for hands, face and body. Choose a regular toothbrush or razor over electric models.
Film and other accessories can be purchased globally and often easily, so save packing room by leaving them behind. Create an in-trip adventure and discover more about the area by shopping for a local brand of deodorant or lotion.
When it comes to incidentals, a few items will go a long way. Important items to bring include a first-aid kit, a tin of aspirin, sunscreen and a small bottle of Woolite for emergency, in-room laundering if needed. Also, a Swiss army knife will amaze you with its handiness, whether peeling fruit or uncorking a wine bottle. Remember – it’s not allowed on the plane, so pack it in your checked luggage.
Once your travel kit is complete, be sure to pack it in your carry-on bag to avoid a mess in your checked luggage and have on hand during the flight.
THE ART OF PACKING
Learn to fold. Practice folding like they do in clothing stores – they use that method for a reason. The better the fold, the fewer the creases. All garments can be folded in many different ways – T-shirts, jeans, skirts and sports coats can be rolled up and strategically positioned (i.e. stuffed) in a duffel bag or travel pack.
The interlocking method of folding clothes is ideal for suitcases. Overlap two pieces of clothing flat and then fold them into each other so that each piece cushions the other to aid in defying wrinkles. Placing a piece of tissue paper between each layer of clothing will also help prevent wrinkling.
If using the fold and stack method, try to think chronologically, placing the items to be worn first on the top. This will prevent rooting around the suitcase for a specific item while disrupting the rest.
Always pack tightly. Packing loosely wastes precious space and causes clothes to wrinkle. Eliminate wasted space, such as the insides of shoes, which are perfect for socks or underwear.
Always carry travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage. Items such as these should never be packed in checked luggage.
Label each piece of luggage, both inside and out, with your name and telephone number, but not your home address. If an address is needed, then put your office’s. And remove old claim checks to avoid confusion.
Unpack as completely as possible as soon as you get to the hotel to prevent further wrinkles. When repacking, remember that balled-up, dirty laundry takes more space than carefully folded clothes, so repack your used clothing identically to your original packing method.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, airlines have imposed strict regulations on the size and the amount of luggage passengers may check. Travelers who fail to check size requirements before their flights may be charged with extra fees in order to bring the bag on board the aircraft. To avoid such issues, ASTA advises you consult with the individual airlines' Web sites or Customer Service lines.
|Q.||What should students know before going on a class trip?|
|A.||The permission slips are signed, your bags are packed and you’re,
like, so ready to ditch the classroom and head out on your class trip.
Travel is an exciting opportunity to experience different places and
wondrous cultures, so the key is not to blow it by doing something that
will ruin the trip for yourself and others.
While it’s tempting to forget about all the rules as soon as your chaperones turn their backs, you should keep in mind these tips from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that studying for your upcoming trip is a homework assignment you’ll actually enjoy.
Before You Go
Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. It’s hard to enjoy the sights when you can’t see them.
Pack a simple first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream and pain relievers. It’s a good thing to have “just in case.” And tell your trip leaders about any medications you’re taking.
Give your parents the phone and fax number of your hotel, the cell phone numbers of the chaperones and a full itinerary of your trip. If anything changes during the trip, e-mail your parents immediately with the new info.
Pack all valuables, medications, travel documents and passport in your carry-on bag. Occasionally checked luggage gets lost at airports, so you want to have your important items on you.
While You’re There
Don’t be flashy. Wear an old, inexpensive watch and leave the bling at home. You don’t want to be a walking target for thieves. If you bring a fancy digital camera or an MP3 player, don’t flaunt them.
When you check in at your hotel, grab a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it. Keep this card on you at all times.
Look both ways before crossing the streets. Yes, you’ve heard that a billion times, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is to step into oncoming traffic in foreign countries, especially the ones where they drive on the other side of the road.
Travel with a buddy at all times and never wander off alone from the group.
Be respectful around, and ask permission before taking photographs of, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other religious sites. Also, ask permission before taking photographs of government buildings and military installations. In some countries you can be detained for taking a picture of the wrong building.
Talk to your trip leader or to a travel agent about types of food or beverages to avoid, and don’t buy food from street vendors.
|Q.||How much is my dollar worth?|
|Q.||What are the prohibited items TSA has announced?|
From the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as of today.
Since the requirements and restrictions
are changing daily we are providing a link to the TSA website
to assure you of the most current and accurate information possible.
|Q.||How do I find information about a country?|
|Q.||Which credit and debit cards are best overseas?|
Ever since we started tracking foreign exchange fees, readers keep asking us to identify the "best" credit and debit cards to use when out of the country. A typical inquiry:
"Is there any way to avoid exchange fees when I travel in Europe?"
The short answer is, "Yes, at least in some countries," but for most travelers the question is a bit more complicated. Given all of the recent upheaval in the banking business, we decided that an update of our earlier compilations was in order.
Your ideal choice of a credit card depends on a wide range of factors—annual fee, APR, rewards, billing cycles, and such—as well as costs of foreign use. We can't begin to sort out all of those concerns: Our examinations of the "best" cards focus solely on foreign charges.
The general principles of using plastic in foreign countries haven't changed since our earlier Foreign Exchange 101 report. As a brief recap, when you use a MasterCard or Visa credit card overseas, the international MasterCard and Visa networks add a conversion fee of 1%, and most US banks add their own 2% fee, for a total of 3%. When you use a debit (ATM) card for cash outside the US, your bank adds some combination of a per-withdrawal fee up to $5, a conversion fee up to 3%, or maybe both. By contrast, when you use travelers checks or currency you generally lose anywhere from 5% to 10% in various conversion fees and charges.
Thus, we still recommend "credit cards for big purchases; debit cards for cash," and suggest you forget about travelers checks or exchanging US currency. However, we see some minor changes in specific credit and debit card specifics. Here is the latest information we have, as of early May 2009.
Credit card charges, foreign currency
When you use a credit card outside the US, your charge will normally be in the currency of the country you're visiting. When that charge goes through the system and reaches your bank, most US banks still tack their own surcharges onto the standard 1% charged by the international networks. This is essentially for doing nothing, because the charge is already in US dollars by the time your bank receives it: The bank adds the 2% because it can, out of pure greed.
Fortunately, a few banks do not add a surcharge. Here are current charges for some of the larger card issuers:
American Express: 2.7 percent
As far as I can tell, no other big card issuer is as generous as Capital One, although USAA comes close. HSBC and Chase offer reduced charges to a small number of "elite" customers; for the most part, their ordinary cards charge 3%.
Credit card charges, U.S. dollars
Occasionally, a foreign merchant charges you in U.S. dollars rather than in local currency. Banks are inconsistent in their treatment of such charges: Bank of America, Barclaycard/Juniper, Citibank/Diners, and USAA add the same conversion fee regardless of the currency, but American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo do not surcharge dollar billings.
Although dollar billings might seem a good idea—at least in some cases—you have to be aware of a possible scam: The merchant may use a lousy exchange rate when it converts your bill into US dollars, so you might wind up paying both a merchant's private currency markup in addition to a surcharge. The conclusion: Avoid any billing in dollars.
Debit (ATM) cards for cash
Until recently, the only extra charge you paid was a flat fee for each withdrawal from a foreign ATM, regardless of the amount of money you received. Lately, however, some big banks have added a conversion surcharge. Here are current costs per transaction and exchange surcharges for withdrawing cash from a foreign ATM:
Bank of America(a) : $0/0 percent
(a) At ATMs operated by members of Global ATM Alliance
This compilation shows three ways to avoid losing more than 1% on a foreign currency ATM withdrawal:
• If you have (or open) an account with Bank of America, you can withdraw foreign currencies from ATMs owned by member banks of the "Global ATM Alliance" with no transaction or conversion fee: Westpac in Australia and New Zealand, Scotia Bank in Canada, China Construction Bank in China, Paribas in France, Deutsche Bank in Germany, Santander Serfin in Mexico, and Barclays Bank in the UK. All seven banks have branches throughout their home countries (as well as a few foreign locations); you can locate them through the BofA website. In other countries, however, BofA charges more than most other banks.
• If you have (or open) an account with Citi you can withdraw foreign currencies from ATMs at Citi branches outside the US with no transaction fee. Citi has branches in dozens of foreign countries: In some, it has retail branches throughout the country; in others, it has only one or two offices in one or two major cities. You can easily find out whether a Citi account will work for your trip by checking the worldwide branch locator on the Citi website.
• Many smaller banks—or bigger banks with elite-status accounts for some favored customers—add no fee of their own and agree to refund any fees that other banks apply, usually with a limit on the number of withdrawals per month.
Obviously, the spread between the best and worst deals on debit-card withdrawals is wider than the spread among credit cards. The very best deals, such as Citi and the Global ATM Alliance, are as good as the best credit cards, while with the worst deals you lose more than when you exchange currency or travelers checks.
Whatever you do, use a debit card for local currency from an ATM, not a credit card. When you use a credit card to get cash, you're on the hook for a number of extra fees and charges.
Debit cards for purchases
Most debit cards are MasterCard or Visa branded, so you can use them to shop as well as for ATM cash. When you use your ATM card that way, most banks charge the same as on their credit card purchases. HSBC, however, adds only 1% on those charges rather than the usual 3%.
The U.S. banks I've contacted tell me that when you use a debit card with a PIN to purchase something in a foreign country, whether or not that transaction is considered a purchase or cash withdrawal depends on the "merchant code" on the transaction. Unless it's a financial institution, the charge is treated as a purchase. However the U.S. banks don't seem to be very sure of this point.
The PIN hassle
I've recently reported that European banks are generally switching from the stripe-plus-signature system we use in the U.S. to a smart chip-plus-PIN system for maintaining credit card security. Although international MasterCard and Visa rules require all participating merchants to continue to honor US cards, no matter where they are, travelers report problems in using their non-chip cards, especially in Scandinavia and in may automated vending systems. At this point, the international networks really have no solution to this problem.
Some U.S. holders of credit cards have obtained PINs so they can use their cards for cash withdrawal (not a good idea). I haven't been able to determine whether those PINS work in European situations that require PINS. Reader reports would be most welcome.
My overall recommendations remain the same as they've been for several years. To minimize your exchange losses:
• Put big charges on credit cards. If you travel outside the U.S. a lot, consider getting a Capital One card, with its zero surcharge (and a reasonably generous reward program). Otherwise, USAA and many smaller banks and credit unions charge only 1%. Even cards with a full 3% surcharge are still an efficient way to pay outside the U.S.
• Use your debit (ATM) card for whatever local currency you need. If your itineraries permit, use one of the limited no-fee systems. Otherwise, minimize your losses by withdrawing in fairly large amounts each time.
In short, use plastic, but make sure it's the right plastic.
(Article from USA Today, by Ed Perkins)
DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR . . .
WHAT TO WEAR . . .
AIRPORT CHECK IN . . .
Many calling cards are not good FROM other countries. Check yours before you travel or get one at the airport when you arrive at your destination country. Ask if the hotel adds surcharges to calls or always use a pay phone. Check with your cell carrier before you leave to see if you have International calling.
AT THE HOTEL . . .
CHECKING OUT . . .
PLEASE REVIEW ALL DOCUMENTS, PURCHASED INSURANCE PLANS AND CONTACT NUMBERS BEFORE DEPARTURE.
IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WHILE TRAVELING CONTACT THE PROPERTY MANAGER, WHOLESALER EMERGENCY NUMBER, OR THE EMERGENCY NUMBER ON YOUR INSURANCE POLICY.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME AND CALL ME UPON YOUR RETURN TO LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR TRIP WENT!!!
AIRLINE PHONE NUMBERS
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