When traveling with a Sister Cities group, you will be included in several group briefings before your departure including protocol information specific to your trip. This travel checklist is a resource in the event you need additional information.
We recommend “Travel as a Political Act” by: Rick Steves, to all of our travelers as a guide to get you thinking about your actions and interactions while traveling. As a citizen diplomat, you are representing Fort Worth Sister Cities, as well as the City of Fort Worth and the United States…it’s a big responsibility!
Passports can take 6-8 weeks to receive. Start this process early. You can apply for a passport at many local post offices. It is a good idea to call in advance to make sure that your post office offers passport services. A passport application can be downloaded from the State Department’s website.
Before you leave
- Sign your passport
- Be sure it is valid (and will be valid through the end of your trip)
- Be sure it has at least one blank page
- Fill in the emergency information page of your passport
- Obtain a visa, if required
If you are a frequent, overseas traveler, you might want to consider applying for the Global Entry program. The Global Entry program is a U.S. Customs program that expedites clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
There are many sites that will help you figure out the current exchange rate. Using www.XE.com for example you can enter the country of your choice and see what the conversion from one U.S. Dollar will be. Your credit card will typically have the best exchange rate, however it’s a good idea to have at least $30-$50 converted prior to your trip. Check with your bank about ordering currency in advance or you can exchange currency at the airport or hotel. Traveler’s checks are discouraged.
Remember to let your credit card company know the dates you will be traveling so they don’t flag out of country charges as fraudulent and cancel your card.
Although English is widely spoken in other countries, it is polite to learn a few words or phrases when visiting particularly when you are acting as an ambassador for Fort Worth Sister Cities and the City of Fort Worth. The orientation packet that you receive at your Sister Cities travel briefing will contain some phrases which you can practice with your fellow travelers. Also, there are some websites that you can visit to listen to phrase pronunciation such as Fodors or read up on pronunciation tips such as WikiTravel.
There are several translation apps for smart phones both iPhone & Android, however, your cell phone plan may need to be adjusted for overseas travel. Check with your carrier for specific details.
Whether you are planning to completely unplug during your trip or you refuse to go anywhere without your smart phone, take a minute to read this article on how to ‘Avoid a Smartphone’s Bite‘ for some helpful tips on managing your cell phone while traveling internationally; including what to know about hotel wi-fi and whether to get an international data plan or buy a local SIM card.
Photos & Blogging
As an International Journalist for Sister Cities, you may be privileged to attend special ceremonies, dinners or performances. Be sure to ask before taking pictures. The Sister Cities travel blogs are a great way to not only share your adventure with family and friends but also to celebrate the various partnerships that made your trip possible. Be sure to share the address of your blog before you leave with those who will want to follow your adventure. For those photographers in the group, Sister Cities also has a Flickr page where you can share your photos and visit with others who may have even traveled the same route.
All prescription medication must be clearly labeled an in the prescription bottle used by the pharmacy. If taking medication, be sure you will have enough to get though your trip, or check with your doctor about taking an extra written prescription with you.
Check with the Tarrant County Public Health Department for vaccines related to the country you will be visiting.
Surviving the Flight
These do’s and don’ts will make the journey easier:
- Hydrate before and during the flight
- Pack some snacks
- Pack an easily accessible change of clothes and a toiletry kit
- Get up and stretch whenever possible
- Try to sleep!
- Drink too much caffeine
- Consume alcohol
- Forget entertainment for the flight
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers. While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department web site has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.
Additional Tips for Traveling Abroad can be found at Travel.State.Gov. Fort Worth Sister Cities will do everything we can to ensure you have the information you need for your trip. However, as a citizen diplomat, you have a responsibility to learn all that you can before you leave…besides, the more you know the more fun you will have.