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3 things you should know before you go on vacation overseas

Oct 2, 2012, 11:38 a.m.

International travel was expensive even before the airlines began charging to stow your bags, feed you a meal and give you a blanket and pillow. So it just makes sense to take care of the unforeseen events that could cost you even more money while you're enjoying your overseas vacation.

The most common question travelers ask is "What if I lose my passport while on vacation?" In years gone by you might have had a real problem. Today's technology lets you recover from a lost passport (or credit card) much more easily. Before you leave, scan your credit cards (including phone numbers for reporting a lost card) and your passport, creating image files of each. Save those images at a secure location on the web using services like Gmail, Yahoo mail, DropBox or others. You'll be able to access them with your password from any location that has Internet access. It wouldn't hurt to scan your driver's license and any other important documents as well.

The country, or countries, you plan to visit may or may not welcome U.S. citizens with open arms. Then again, people in some nations, particularly in Central and South America, consider petty theft almost as a "sport" with Americans being prime targets. By registering with the U.S. State Department STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) you'll enable the State Department to better assist you in case of difficulties.

Now that you've taken care of those essentials, you may want to know how to upgrade reservation to make your travel more comfortable. Airlines have well-defined ways to upgrade: either through the use of loyalty miles or by paying an additional fare. Upgrading a hotel accommodation is even easier and usually won't cost you any additional money. The first rule: be honest, respectful and friendly. Don't tell the desk clerk it's your anniversary if it's not. Ask for an upgrade politely. Many front desk personnel face rude and angry visitors every day, yet they are usually authorized to offer upgrades. Don't be a rude dude. Be respectful and ask for what you want.

There's a lot more you can check out before you leave for your overseas vacation at travel.state.gov. Enjoy your trip!

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