Chapter 1. Passport and Plan in Advance
First, think Passport. If you do not have a valid and current passport, this is a first step as soon as you decide you are going to travel overseas, internationally, or whatever you want to call traveling outside the United States. You can get a passport application at the US Postal Service near you, and in many counties, there is a passport office as part of the County Clerk,or equivalent. And, there must be at least 6 months remaining on an existing passport, or you may be stopped at customs, both in the US and upon arrival in another country. This is a black and white issue…no 6 months, no travel outside the US. As part of the application, you must get passport photos, and these are available at various drug stores in your community, and at some of the US Postal Offices. The cost will be in the $125 range….and their is the passport book and the passport card…get the standard passport. Renewal will be about $100. And, at the Passport planning time, also think about vaccinations. Depending on the country, vaccinations may be required. Your local county health department will usually have these guidelines, and they can assist here, and in some counties, will actually administer the vaccination. Do this as you start your Passport planning, as shots may have to be given over a period of time, such as 4 weeks. Don’t wait until you are ready to go.
Second, think Plan in Advance. Time flies and I am recommending plan a year in advance of when you would like to travel. In this planning process, think through Where Do You Want To Go?, When Do You Want To Go?, Why Do You Want To Go to This Place?, and How Do You Want To Get There? The When is really important, and this may take some research on your destination. Everything from a National Holiday to a Special Event in that location can complicate your travel plans. Easter Week at the Vatican in Rome can be a nightmare if you do not like big crowds, for example. Boxing Day is the Day After Christmas in England, and many stores and attractions are CLOSED, including public transport. Local celebration days can bring extra crowds to attractions, and lines to get into museums can be long and slow. All of these kinds of events and happenings can now be found on the internet, and Google will become your “good friend”. The final past of this Plan in Advance section is to think about how long do you want to be in a place, city, or country? Some years ago one might think 2 days in Paris is plenty….not so now. Reasons are simple and revolve around (1) more people are traveling now than any time in history. And, (2) more travelers are coming from Asia To Europe….and many that were traveling to the Middle East are (3) now going to Europe and Asia…all complicating the crowd factor. So, think in terms of a day with crowds and lines and delays, and maybe another day or two in that special place will be in order.
In order to Plan in Advance, you have to have a good idea of where you want to go. Enter the Internet, and Chapter 1 will continue with using the Internet to get the information that you need to make some good plans and decisions. All for now.