Practical Advice for the Tropical Traveler

New Passport Requirements - The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. For more information, see Important Notice to Travelers.

Of course, the requirement that anyone traveling from other foreign countries still apply: you must possess a valid, unexpired passport to be allowed into the United States which means you must have one with you when you leave the US.

In general, all countries require that your passport still have 6 months of validity on them before they will allow you to enter. So, you should apply for a passport renewal ASAP if you plan a trip to a foreign country within the next year and your passport expires within 6 months of your planned departure date. Don't procrastinate because processing the application could take some time.

For more information on obtaining or renewing a passport, see Passport Requirements for International Travel.

Baggage Tips for Tropical Travel - With today's transportation security concerns, there is a high likelihood-- maybe even a certainty-- that your checked bags will be opened for screening. Obviously, that means you can't lock your bag if you expect it to arrive at your destination intact. You hate to send your valuable dive equipment, such as your BCD (which is really too bulky to take in your carry-on bag) in an unlocked suitcase. What to do?

Airport Security and Orthopedic Implants - To minimize the potential for hassle in passing through airport security, if you have an orthopedic implant, you should have a note from your doctor!

What you need to know about trip insurance - The first thing to know is that you should always have trip insurance. Divers should pay particular consideration to getting a policy that gives them adequate coverage.

Prepare for your trip - buy books or check them out of a library. Don't just read guidebooks and travel books to help you find facts and recommended places to stay, dine, see. You can extend the excitement of your trip by reading history and literature of your destination. Even novels set in the locale can help you be there long before you leave for the airport. And if you are going to carry a novel to read on the plane, why not make it one in which the characters live in your destination? And when you return, what fun it is to read books set in the place you have experienced first hand. Can you picture in your mind the place where the action of the novel occurs? Did the author get it right? By reading, your tropical vacation doesn't have to be just the few weeks you were actually there.

How To Avoid Jet-Lag- You don't have to suffer from jet-lag if you take a few common sense precautions. Primarily, you want to get your body reset to the local time of your destination as quickly as possible. I have some tips for how to do that.

Did you know that when you travel to the South Pacific from the West Coast of the US, you may "lose a day" but you probably won't experience much jet lag. That's because the flights there are "body friendly" ones that take off from LAX or Vancouver in the late evening. You have dinner, watch a movie, go to sleep, and wake for breakfast just before you land. Your body doesn't know that you are miles away from home; it feels like morning in a place where it actually is morning!

Safety concerns - Know before you go, insure your trip, use common sense: there's no reason not to be safe on your tropical travels.

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