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What to Know Before You Take an International Flight

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This list covers What to Know Before You Take an International Flight – 

Traveling to another country can be a daunting experience. Over the years I have picked up some tips for taking an international flight. Here is a checklist for you to go through before you head to the airport:

Check Your Passports Expiration Date

If it expires within 3 months of your trip, get a new passport. Some countries might not let you in if your passport is nearing its expiration date. If you live in a major city getting an expedited passport is easy – I got one in less than a week – during the week of Thanksgiving.

Check to See if you Need a Visa

Here is a list of countries that require Visas for Americans.

Put All or Your Liquids in the Bag

Although this rule originated in the US, other countries take it more seriously. Yes, security in London might see that spare lip gloss in your bag when it goes through the X-ray and they will search your bag for it, put it in the liquids bag, and rescan it. It is a time consuming process that you would probably rather avoid.

You Might Go Through Security Twice

If you are flying into the US, often you will go through an additional security check before you board. This is because the US has stricter laws and instead of having all flights at a foreign airport follow the US rules, some airports just put the passengers flying to the US through an extra round of security. Again, be sure you put all of your liquids in the bag, often this is one of reasons for the additional security screening.

Pay Attention When Your Bag is Checked

If you are on an international flight with a layover, this is really important. You want to know if you bag is being checked through to your final destination or not. Ask the person when you check in the bag. When Charles and I flew to Barcelona via London his bag was checked through to Barcelona, and mine was not. This meant that we had to go through customs, get my bag, and go back through security. Thank goodness we realized my bag wasn’t checked through to Barcelona – if we didn’t get it and re-check it the bag probably wouldn’t have been sent on to Barcelona. We are convinced that this is how bags get lost.

Have Your Flight Numbers Handy

Customs officials will want to know the flight number for your flight. If you are just entering the country on a layover they will also want to know the flight number for your flight out of the airport.

Have Your Hotel Informational Ready

Often customs forms will ask where you are staying or who you are staying with. Have the name of the hotel and its address ready. If you are staying with friends or family, they might ask their names and their citizenship status.

Go Through Customs with Your Spouse

A couple of years ago the customs agents in the UK taught me that I can go through customs with my husband even if I don’t have a UK/EU passport. It’s been a game changer since we don’t get separated and usually the UK/EU lines are shorter. We have done this several times and haven’t had any problems – I just hand Charles my passport and he hands them both to the agent with his on the top.

You Might Need to Show Proof of Vaccinations

This seems to apply for the yellow fever vaccine especially. You can find more information here. When it comes to vaccines, I recommend contacting your doctor right away. Sometimes they need to order the vaccines, and some vaccines need to be timed in a certain way. It’s best to get the ball moving as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t required to show proof of a vaccination, you still might want to get some vaccinations (or just a flu shot) before you travel.

Be Prepared to Fight Jet Lag

Charles and I have a strategy for fighting jet lag and you can read all about it here. If you start trying to get on the new time zone while you are on your flight, you are ahead of the game when you land.

You Might Go Through US Customs Before Your Flight

This is a weird one and something that I have only experienced once. When Kelly and I flew out of Dublin we went through US Customs before boarding our flight and flying to America. This is important to note because we were not expecting it, and the process took about 30 minutes since it involved going through an additional security check and then customs. It was slightly annoying, but we were happy not to go through customs when we landed.

Know The Duty Free Customs Limits

There are limits on how much cash you can bring back into America. If you have more than $10,000 in cash (any currency) you need to declare it. The duty-free allowance for foreign goods entering the United States is usually $800. If you have foreign goods exceeding that amount you will need to declare it on a customs form and pay the necessary taxes. It is important to pay attention to this since failing to follow the rules could put your Global Entry status at risk. For more information, read this.

Further Reading

What to Wear on a Long Flight
How to Avoid Jet Lag
What Medicines to Pack for a Trip Abroad

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