Five tips for international travel during the holidays

November 27, 2019

Traveling abroad this holiday season? Use these tips to help make your trip go smoothly, no matter the time of year.

While there may be no place like home for the holidays, more Americans than ever are traveling abroad. Last December, more than 8 million U.S. citizens traveled to Mexico, Canada, or overseas, making it the fourth busiest month for international travel.

If your holiday plans will take you away from home, whether to visit family, for vacation, or as part of a mission group, try these five tips to help you prepare for a successful trip — this season or any time of year.

  • Gather important travel documents. Collect all the documents you will need, including passports, visas, driver’s licenses, personal/student ID cards, credit cards, and trip insurance information, and keep them together. It’s a good idea to bring copies of these important documents as well, in case you lose anything. You may also want to notify your bank that you’re traveling abroad so they don’t assume charges outside the United States are fraudulent and freeze your credit card.
  • Get necessary vaccines. Make sure you’re up to date on routine vaccinations, including measles mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot, for any trip. In addition, other vaccines may be recommended or required depending on where you are going. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find out what vaccines or medicines you may need.
  • Secure your home for peace of mind while you’re away. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, have the post office hold your mail, and stop newspaper delivery. It’s also a good idea to set lights on a timer and inform a trusted neighbor that you will be away, and for how long, so they can keep an eye on things.
  • Know what items you can and can’t carry on your flight. To avoid security hassles if traveling by air, carry only unwrapped gifts and follow the 3-1-1 rule for any liquids, gels, or aerosols. If you’re unsure about carrying on any items, check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website ahead of time.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected with the International SOS reference card. If you have medical coverage* through the Board of Pensions, you should always pack this handy reference card when traveling outside the United States. The card includes a membership number to access services and contact information for International SOS (ISOS) assistance centers. ISOS provides medical advice, assistance, and referrals for travelers abroad, so help is just a phone call away should you need it.

*Those enrolled in Triple-S or GeoBlue should consult their plan for information about covered services while traveling internationally.