1. Investigate passport visa requirements.
Many countries offer visa on arrival or you can easily apply for a visa at an embassy but it is always better to check your's and the visiting countries’ official government website before leaving for the most current information.
We originally hadn’t planned on visiting China but then decided to look into while we were in Taiwan. Because there wasn’t an embassy in Taiwan we would have had to send our passports back to the states costing us about $300 USD each according to one travel agency. If we looked into it before we left the States we probably would have applied for a visa entry into China.
2. Check passport expiration date.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months past the last day of trip. You will not be allowed entry into a country otherwise.
3. Get passport photos.
You can get passport photos abroad but we found it helpful to have some on hand for visa applications.
4. Schedule medical appointments.
Inform your physician you will be traveling for an extended period of time and the countries you will be visiting. Obtain a vaccination card listing all shots you have gotten. Also don’t forget to get a dental, vision, and any other special medical check-ups before leaving. Discuss with your doctors prescriptions you may need to ensure you have ample supply while traveling.
We also found it helpful to visit a travel clinic as they specialize in medical issues you may encounter while abroad and typically have the most current information available.
5. Identify an emergency contact.
The emergency contact person should be someone you trust with your personal and banking information. It can be key to have this contact especially if you have any financial issues while traveling abroad and need some assistance from the States.
6. Determine a permanent address.
Submit a request to the post office to have all mail forwarded to the permanent address. We used our emergency contact's address. Your banks and credit cards will require a current address, so it is good to have something as you travel for an extended period of time.
7. Copy important documents.
Scan and email a copy of important documents to yourself and your emergency contact, such as driver’s license, passport, and vaccination card. Multiple copies ensure you are covered in an emergency.
8. Create a list of important information.
The list should include information such as bank account and routing number, credit card number, and collect call number for each institution. Even if you will carry the credit card with you it is important to save this information in case the card gets lost or stolen. Don’t forget to email yourself and your emergency contact a copy of this information.
9. Sign-up for insurance.
Travel insurance is a must unless you have existing insurance that will cover medical needs while abroad. If you are planning on carrying expensive items such laptops or camera equipment consider getting property insurance as well.
10. Inform your bank and credit card of international purchases.
Unless you notify your bank, your credit card will be flagged for fraud when you try to use it abroad. We still had a few issues while traveling especially in Vietnam. Notification in advance saves you some headaches when you hit the road.