You Should Know: Before You Go by Chelsea Knorr, Associate Editor, Dentaltown Magazine

Wading through the preparations for a trip can be daunting. Packing half the clothes and twice the money isn’t the only trick we’ve got up our sleeve.
by Chelsea Knorr, Associate Editor, Dentaltown Magazine

Borders are tight, so chances are you already have a passport. But on the off chance that you don’t, you’ll need to apply at least six weeks before your trip abroad. Make sure to check the expiration date of your passport to ensure it is still valid for your trip. Whether applying for a passport for the first time or renewing an expired document, visit for step-by-step instructions.

Countries vary one to the next when it comes to visa requirements. Some countries require you to apply for a visa months prior to your departure. Some will require you to purchase a visa at customs upon arrival, and others will stamp your passport and give you a warm hello with little question. It’s important to know exactly what your destination’s visa requirements specify well in advance of the trip. Visit for up-to-date visa information for every country in the world.

Developing countries often deal with diseases uncommon to the U.S. These include typhoid, yellow fever, malaria and hepatitis. Luckily, you have the opportunity (and often requirement) to prevent them before you ever get on the airplane.

Research which vaccinations you’ll need by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at Select the country you are bound for and then click the sidebar tab that says, “Preparing for your trip to X.” This link will tell you all the immunizations you need. Print it and bring it with you to the doctor for easy reference.

You can get most common vaccinations just by making an appointment with your primary care provider. For a select few, like yellow fever, for example, you will need to go to a county health clinic or pharmacy that is certified to administer the vaccine. To find the nearest yellow fever vaccination clinic, visit:

Does your insurance cover you when you leave the country? Find out before you leave. If you need emergency coverage or want to supplement the coverage you already have, there are any number of credible travel insurance companies that exist for that sole purpose.

It’s important to know both the climate and culture of your destination. If it will be humid, you will want to bring lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes. If it will be cold, you’ll want to make sure you pack layers and have sufficient bedding. Even more pressing than preparing for the weather is being respectful of cultural boundaries. Many countries’ dress is much more conservative than the U.S. You may find it is disrespectful for men and women to wear shorts, or for women to show their shoulders. Research your destination before shopping or packing to find out what attire is acceptable.

Last Minute To-Dos
  • Make copies of important documents.
  • Give a copy of your itinerary and copies of important documents to a close friend or family member.
  • Confirm your flight times and print boarding passes.
  • Pack passport and immunization records in an accessible location for retrieval at customs upon arrival.
  • Keep liquids in your checked baggage or in 3oz containers in a small plastic bag in your carry-on.
  • Pack cash and any valuables in several different places in your luggage to assuage theft.
  • Depending on which organization your trip is organized by, you may need to bring your own equipment and supplies. Check beforehand!


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