Trip Planning & Preparation

Planning a trip can take lots of time and it is much better to be over prepared than under prepared. Depending on your destination you should start planning your trip between 6- 12 months in advance. If you plan your trip last minute, you will most likely miss out on some of the hotel deals. However, airfare can be tricky. You really have to keep a daily watch on airfare. I have landed great deals just a few weeks before my trip. Another secret to purchasing airfare is to purchase them on the holidays. I have gotten great deals on airfare by purchasing my plane ticket on Christmas day for trips planned for that following summer. It is also helpful to purchase travel books on your destination and even bring a language translator book.

International Travel Tips

I recommend you research the immunizations requirements in the early stages of you planning your trip.  You can view a quick guide on required immunizations on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: and or the World Health Organization ( Make sure you also consult your primary care doctor and local travel clinic for recommended and required immunizations.


Passport Photo Requirements

You must provide 1 photo with your application


The processing of your passport application may be delayed if you do not submit a photo that meets the requirements below.  To avoid processing delays, we recommend you use a professional passport photo service.

Your passport photo must be:

In color

Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper

2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size

Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.

Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance

Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background

Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera

With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open.


What is the difference between a passport and a travel visa?

A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship.  The passport serves two purposes: to regain entry to the country of citizenship (i.e. the United States) and is a requirement by many countries to gain entry to the country you are visiting.  

A travel visa is an official government document that temporarily authorizes you to be in the country you are visiting.  Many countries require a visa to gain entry.  The visa usually is in the form of a stamp or sticker placed in the passport and is obtained from the country you are visiting.

Visas & PassportsDepending on your destination some countries require both, a visa and a passport. You can view a quick guide on visa and passport information at

Quick Tourist Visa Highlights for U.S. Citizens:

Bahamas- No visa required

Barbados- No visa required

Bermuda- No visa required

Botswana- No visa required

Brazil- Visa required

Canada- No visa required

Costa Rica- No visa required

Dominican Republic- No visa required

Ghana- Visa required

Greece- No visa required

Grenada- No visa required

Israel- No visa required

Jamaica- No visa required

Mexico- No visa required

Morocco- No visa required

South Africa- No visa required

Thailand- Visa only required if you stay more then 30 days

Trinidad & Tobago- No visa required

Turkey- Visa required









Quick Travel Checklist


Pack your Passport and/ or Visa. Make sure these documents are not expired

Make a photo copy of your passport and/or visa. Once you arrive to your destination, make sure you lock up your passport and/or visa and carry around your photo copies instead.

Print a copy of your trip details or itinerary

Along with printing out a copy of your trip itinerary, I recommend you check the weather conditions one (1) or two (2) days before your trip.

Exchange your money

For international travel, I recommend you exchange your money to the local currency. You can negotiate and bargain better with local dollars. You can visit to view daily conversion rates.  I also recommend you have a separate travel ATM debit card or travelers checks to avoid fraud to your bank account. 

Pack bug repellent, mini first aid kit and immunization medicine






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Pack your prescribed medicine

In addition to packing your prescribed medicine, it is also important to pack over-the-counter medicine that you might need. Depending on the country you visit they might not have the same name brand medicine and might also have different regulations that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Things to pack in your carry-on bag

Include an extra outfit, toothpaste, tooth brush soap and light jacket on your carry-on bag in case of a mishap and you don't have your luggage when you arrive to your destination. A travel pillow and blanket for long flights, a good book and a mobile device that can play music and movies.

Don't forget to pack these items

Towels, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, outlet converter, mobile phone, phone charger, batteries, cameras, contact lenses, glasses, sunglasses, sun screen, antibacterial wipes, comb, brush, razor, shaving cream, slippers, flip flops, make-up and personal hygiene items.