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A woman packing for traveling abroad

Traveling abroad to another country can be one of life’s great highlights. However, it requires a little more preparation than traveling across the U.S. If you plan to venture out of the country for the first time, here are answers to a few common questions.

1. How do I get a passport and visa?

Before you travel internationally, check the government site of the country you’re visiting to see if you need a visa or a passport. What’s a visa? It’s an endorsement stamp issued by a country that allows you to visit for a specific time. Apply for a passport at passport agencies throughout the U.S. The first-time cost is $130 if you’re 16 or older, and $100 is for travelers younger than 16. Renewals cost $130. Fast processing costs extra. Before you leave home, make two copies of your passport so it’s easier to replace them if they are lost or stolen. Leave one copy with someone you trust and take the other copy with you. To avoid theft, always carry your passport with you. If you do leave it, place it in your hotel room safe. Never leave it out in the open or your suitcase.

2. Should I bring cash, credit cards, or both?

Using a credit card for your spending needs is the simplest option. You also can obtain currency in advance, so you have some when you arrive. Ask us about foreign currency orders. It’s always best to have at least two payment options. Consider bringing a WRCU Credit Card and a WRCU Debit Card. Don’t forget to add Travel Notes to your cards when traveling.

 3. What should I know about travel advisories?

Before planning your itinerary, particularly right now, when there is unrest in many different countries, check out the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that present travel safety concerns for Americans. 

Do an internet search with your destination and “tourism scams” to be armed with information to keep you safe.

4. Should I buy trip cancellation or medical insurance?

If you plan to travel overseas, travel insurance is recommended. If you’re unable to take the trip, trip cancellation coverage will reimburse you for pre-paid or non-refundable costs. If your current medical insurance does not include emergency medical coverage outside the U.S., you may also want travel medical coverage.

5. What shots do I need?

This depends on your itinerary. See your physician several weeks before travel because some vaccinations need to be given well before your departure date. Check the CDC site for a travel health notice.

6. How can I avoid jet lag?

If you travel over more than three time zones, your body’s circadian rhythm can be disrupted. When you reach your destination, sleep may be difficult for a few nights—you may wake up several times because your internal “clock” thinks it’s daytime.

But you can help trick your body into adjusting to different time zones.

If you’re traveling east to west, a few days before departure, start going to bed an hour or two earlier each night. West-to-east travelers should stay awake an hour later each night.

After you board your plane, set your watch to your destination’s time, then eat and sleep as if it’s that time of day.

Even though you may be exhausted when you arrive, don’t go to bed immediately. Get outside and take a walk. Absorbing natural daylight helps reset your internal timing. Then eat your meals and go to bed according to local time.

7. How can I best fit in when I travel overseas?

Take time to learn about the country you’re visiting and learn a few phrases of its language.  That effort will be very appreciated by the local citizens.

The Travel.State.Gov site is a great resource for any other questions you may have about traveling internationally.

Travel services from White River Credit Union

Are you going on a trip and want to make sure everything is squared away financially? The team at WRCU is here to assist. Whether you just need to add a travel note to notify us you’ll be away or you need to start saving now for a trip coming up, we have options. Call or text us at (360) 825-4833 or email us at to reach a team member.

© 2020 White River Credit Union