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Five Questions to Ask Before Traveling Abroad

Before setting foot on that plane to go overseas, prepare for what’s in store. Make sure you know the answers to these five questions before you leave.


1. How do I get a passport and visa?

Before you travel internationally, check the entry requirements of the country you’re visiting to see if you need a visa in addition to a passport. Check the country’s entry requirements to learn what documents you need.


What’s a visa? It’s an endorsement stamp issued by a country that allows you to visit for a specific length of time. Apply for a passport and visa at passport agencies throughout the U.S.


2. Where can I get the euro?

Twelve European countries are required to use the euro, making it easier to travel between countries like Germany and France, without exchanging money. The euro is used in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.


Check currency converter sites like www.oanda.com before you go for the latest euro exchange. The current exchange rate is about 90 cents to the U.S. dollar.


3. Should I bring traveler’s checks, cash, or credit cards?

You should need only one credit card overseas. When you cut down on the clutter you carry, you’ll cut down on the potential for identify theft.


Your credit card usually will get the best exchange rate. The credit card bill you sign will be in local currency then exchanged to U.S. dollars by your credit card issuer.


Take along some traveler’s checks because they’re insured, and include local currency in your “money mix.”

4. What’s the most economical way to make international phone calls from overseas?


Avoid making calls from your hotel; these are significantly more expensive than calls made from public phones. More economical options are international calling cards, pay phones, or prepaid phone cards.


5. Should I buy trip cancellation or medical insurance?


Before you buy extra insurance that covers trip cancellations, lost luggage, car rental, or medical needs, check with your current insurance carrier. Plus, your travel agent may have a comprehensive package that fits your needs.


Keep in mind, the cost for travelers’ insurance varies widely depending on your age, type of trip you’re taking, length of your stay, and your destination.


Copyright 2004 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.