The more you know and secure before you go, the less likely you are to have difficulties during your travels abroad.
Personal Information Safety
Leave a detailed itinerary including names, addresses and phone numbers of persons and places to be visited with a friend or family member at home so that you can be reached in an emergency.
Prepare a travel safety sheet that includes the contact information of the U.S. Embassy in the country your family is visiting and contact information of your credit card companies and doctor’s office. To make this process easier, you can enroll your family in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Make two photocopies of everyone’s passport. Bring one copy with you on the trip and leave one at home. Email digital copies to yourself just in case you lose the paper copy while traveling. It’s a good precaution to make photocopies of the credit and debit cards you will be using on the trip as well.
Do Your Research
If the country you are visiting speaks a different language, brush up on some of the basic phrases. Familiarize yourself with maps, road signs, and local laws. For example, if you are traveling to the United Kingdom or Ireland, you will be driving on the other side of the road! Learn how to navigate these changes in roads and signs before exploring.
Inform your bank that you will be traveling abroad and set travel notices on all of your credit cards that detail where and when you will be using your cards internationally. When sightseeing, minimize your risks by only carrying as much cash as you need for the family that day. Leave the rest of your cash and an extra debit or credit card locked in the hotel safe or in a suitcase.
Under international health regulations adopted by the World Health Organization, a country may require international certificates of vaccination against yellow fever and cholera. Call your doctor to ensure that measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis immunizations for everyone in your family are up to date and if you need any additional immunizations.
Confirm Health Insurance Coverage
Unfortunately, your health insurance plan may not cover you while you are abroad. And even if it does provide basic coverage for hospital or emergency costs, it may not cover your medical evacuation back to the United States.
If you are planning a trip abroad, you should call your health insurance provider to confirm whether your coverage extends to your destination. Be sure to ask whether the policy covers medical payments abroad, includes high-risk activities that you might want to pursue – such as skiing, scuba diving, paragliding, or mountain climbing – and pays foreign doctors and hospitals directly, or if the foreign service provider will charge your credit card first.