Sam Becchetti, Guest Author –
Larry’s NOTE: If you plan to travel out of the United States on your honeymoon or destination wedding, call my friend, Sam @ 480-838.9447. I consider her to be one of the best experts on honeymoon and destination wedding travel.
How do I get a passport?
• Step 1: Obtain your official birth certificate from your birth state by visiting www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.
• Step 2: Complete the application form.
• Step 3: Obtain a valid passport photo (try Walgreens for example).
• Step 4: Make an appointment for an IN PERSON application; you cannot go for your intended spouse! More details on fees & details can be obtained at www.travel.state.gov/passport.
Will I also need a Visa?
This is a little tougher. Most times no, but a few countries will require one even for a shorter term stay. Be sure to check with www.travel.state.gov/visa or your travel agent for specifics for the country(s) you plan to visit. If they do require one, and you do not have one upon arrival at the destination, they can refuse to allow you to exit the airport.
Customs & Immigration – what’s the difference?
At the airport you must pass through both. Immigration is the process of inspecting you and your documents to be sure you are who you say you are and have permissions to be where you are going. This is where they validate your passport (and possible visa). For most this takes just a few minutes with the officer. In some countries they will also distribute a “tourist card” which you must then present upon departure from that country.
Once you collect your luggage, you then go through Customs where they inspect your belongings and your declarations paperwork. Customs monitors the import/export of goods from other countries into the one you have arrived at. So this takes place at your foreign destination as well as returning back to the US. If you have goods that require Duty collection, this is where that takes place. They also monitor for items that are not allowed to cross into the country; a good example is Cuban cigars bought in Mexico are still not allowed to cross into the US and would be confiscated. Since these rules vary from country to country, just because it is in a duty-free shop does not mean YOU can buy and return with them to the US.
What is Duty-Free?
You may see Duty-Free shops at the airport or in cruise ports. Here you are able to buy goods at supposed discounted rates because the shops are not paying taxes (or Duty) on the goods as they have not been imported or exported at the time you purchase. It’s a good idea to know what going prices are to know if the duty-free is actually worth any savings to you. Each country has different allowances of how much “stuff” you can bring back into a country that is duty-free. The US has a limit of up to $800, so anything more that you purchase is still subject to taxing at customs. Know also that certain items have limits on the amounts you can return with – like alcohol and cigarettes.
What if I have an emergency?
There are two things you can do preventatively before departure to assist in the event of an emergency. One is purchase a comprehensive travel protection plan which provides coverages for various reasons (sometimes any reason too) as well as medical coverage as most insurances do not cover you out of state, let alone out of country. The second thing to do is register with the STEP program @ www.step.state.gov/step/ so the Dept. of State, consulate or embassy can help you better in the event you need it.
Will I get jet lag?
Possibly. If you are traveling across more than 3 times zone to/from east/west (not north/south) you may develop the syndrome known as jet lag. It means that your body has not adjusted to the new times for eat, sleep, and overall good function. You may have indigestion, lack of concentration and not sleep well. A good rule of thumb is it takes one day per time zone crossed; North/south does not cause jet lag as that does not result in crossing time zones. You may also just have travel fatigue which is effected by being in a cramped space, re-circulated air, and dehydration. This can happen with any longer flight in any direction resulting in headaches, fatigue and/or confusion. This usually takes a good night’s sleep to remedy.
What happens if we cross the international dateline?
The international dateline is an imaginary line designated to help those in travel. If you are traveling east when crossing the line, you “gain” a day, meaning you are repeating the same date again. The opposite occurs if you are headed west, you “lose” a day as the date moves ahead. The biggest thing to remember is that when you depart, your arrival date may not be the same as your departure because you have crossed the line.
What if I still have questions?
If you had not caught on throughout the various topics, one very good thing to do before departure (and not the day before!) is to check out the www.travel.state.gov website. There you will find answers to things on current issues on the place(s) you are visiting. Do they have any required immunizations or breakouts? Political unrest? While this is good information it should also not set you into paranoia, it is delivered by the government and they want to be sure they have covered any issues that may or may not be a true viable problem at the time of your travels. It might be humorous to read the information provided to foreigners coming to the US by their own countries.
Larry’s NOTE: This article was originally published in Arizona’s Finest Wedding Sites & Services magazine.
Copyright © 2013 – Sam Becchetti. Reprinted with permission. Sam Sam Becchetti has been a travel coordinator since 2007 specializing in honeymoons and destination weddings. She is graduate from ASU in Tourism and Special Events and has served the wedding community for 20+ years in Phoenix. Not surprising, her favorite hobby is to travel – whether on the road for work or play she is always scouting new resorts for her clientele. Visit “All About Honeymoons, Weddings & Travel Services” at: www.HoneymoonSam.com
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