As leading global hospitality association HFTP® continues to expand its events internationally, we want to ensure the safety of our members and attendees who are traveling with us to these events. Before you pack up to attend HITEC® Amsterdam, the larger HITEC North America or HITEC Dubai, brush up on these international travel tips that will ensure a successful voyage. Whether you are a seasoned world traveler or preparing for your first major expedition, below is an essential checklist complete with information about required documents, security and safety, monetary exchange, electronics, entry rules and more to review before traveling abroad.
A piece of advice beforehand, if you are traveling to a HITEC event, you need to communicate at customs that you are “attending a conference” and you will not get delayed and caught up in customs. Do not forget to frequently check the HITEC website for additional travel information.
I) Required Documents & Entry Regulations
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
- Visit the Government of Canada’s official website for new information on entry regulations. A new entry requirement is now in effect: visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA. Learn more and find out if you need an eTA by visiting the official government website.
- The first step to planning your international trip is ensuring your passport is VALID and in good physical condition. If you do not have a passport, then now would be a good time to get the documents in order and begin the application process – apply or renew early. Passport processing time in the United States takes approximately six weeks from the time of your application for routine service, about three weeks for expedited service and as little as eight business days for agency expedited services. Second, check to see if the country or countries you will be visiting have a six month beyond requirement. In most cases, passports should be valid for at least six months after you return home, and need to have two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter. In the United States, passports issued for adults ages 16 and older are valid for 10 years, and passports issued for children ages 15 and younger are valid for 5 years. For more passport information, visit the following informational sites by country: United States>; Europe>; United Arab Emirates>; Canada>
- Check in with your doctor and insurance carrier – double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations, and that you have renewed all of your necessary prescriptions. Obtain an official letter from your doctor for any medications you plan to cross borders with. Some countries have strict laws, so ask your medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas/in different countries in case of emergencies.
- Make two photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from your documents in case of loss or theft.
- Study up on your destination, and know what to expect before you arrive in another country. It is important to be informed about local laws, customs, visa/passport requirements, monetary exchange rate, medical care, current events and more in the countries you are visiting. For example, did you know chewing gum is strictly banned from Singapore? First time offenders can face a fine up to $1,000 SGD, $705 USD, if they do not abide by this regulation. Also, stay updated on any travel warnings or alerts for your destination country, and lookout for any risks that may affect your travel plans. Learn More>
- For additional safety and security, register with your embassy. If there happens to be a problem in the country that you are visiting, this will help your country’s government officials to contact you and help you safely return home. Foreign Embassies in the U.S.>
- United States citizens can join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for travel and security updates on your destination. If your family needs to reach you because of an emergency at home, they can call the Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, D.C. at 888-407-4747 (from the United States and Canada) or 202-501-4444. Watch a video about STEP> Canadian citizens can use the free Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
Notify Your Banks.
- Be prepared to handle money in different countries. You will want to notify your bank(s) of what countries you will be visiting and on what dates, so the fraud department does not think your card has been stolen and place a hold on your account. Be mindful of any countries you might be changing planes in as you may need to make a purchase in the airport, especially if you have a flight delay or long layover.
- Be mindful of your destination country’s currency exchange rate, and look up the monetary conversion before you leave for your trip. Do your math before you begin your travel, so you have a sense of where the conversion rate is at and are prepared financially.
- Check for entrance and/or exit fees of the country you are traveling to. Some countries require travelers to pay these fees upon arrival or departure at a moments notice, so be aware of any miscellaneous additional costs that could be included in your travel expense budget. Entrance and/or exit fees are generally not included with the purchase of your airline ticket, so be sure to budget accordingly.
- When traveling in new countries, it is wise to carry local cash as not every place will accept credit cards – especially important for situations where public transportation is required. Also, stop at the bank or ATM in the country that you are visiting. Some conversion centers around the city or in the airport can be overpriced. Visiting the bank or ATM will eradicate excessive processing fees, and your monetary conversion will be exact.
- Avoid the costly international data roaming on your cell phone. If you will be traveling internationally for any or all of the three HITEC events taking place in 2017, you will want to prepare your electronics in advance. Business travelers may have an international calling and data plan, but some infrequent travelers may not. Transmitting data overseas can be very costly, so save money by shutting off your data roaming for the duration of your trip.
- Download WhatsApp to stay in touch and speak freely with friends and family while traveling to other countries. This mobile app is available for Android, iPhone, Mac and Windows PC or Windows Phone. WhatsApp’s voice and video calls use your phone’s Internet connection, instead of your cell plan’s voice minutes, so you do not have to worry about expensive calling charges. Also, download the Worldmate app (free) where you can forward all of your travel emails (airline, hotels, shows, restaurants, etc.), and it will collate and keep them in order. The app allows you to pay for flight upgrades, find out if your flight is on time and much more.
V) Country Entry Information
- Requirements for visitors entering Canada include: 1) a valid travel document (passport); 2) be in good health; 3) have no criminal or immigration-related convictions; 4) convince an immigration officer that you have ties (job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country). Quick Facts> or Learn More>
- Requirements for visitors entering Europe include: 1) a valid passport of at least six (6) months beyond the planned date of departure from the Schengen area; 2) two (2) blank passport pages required for entry stamp; 3) tourist visa not required for stays less than 90 days. Quick Facts> or Learn More>
- Requirements for visitors entering the UAE include: 1) a valid passport signed by the bearer, should not expire within six (6) months from the expected time of arrival in the UAE; 2) Confirmed round-trip airline ticket or airline ticket to other destination(s). Quick Facts> or Learn More>
- Requirements for visitors entering America include: 1) a valid passport of at least six (6) months beyond the planned date of departure from the United States. U.S. and Canadian citizen children under the age of 16 may present a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. Quick Facts> or Learn More>
VI) Stay Updated
Stay tuned to HFTP’s main webpages: HFTP/HITEC; the world’s first hospitality-specific search engine: PineappleSearch® – mobile app available via iTunes App Store and Google Play; HFTP’s official blog: HFTP Connect; HFTP’s industry-specific, informational news sites: HITEC Bytes (technology), HFTP Club Bytes (club), HFTP Finance Bytes (finance) and HFTP News (association); and HFTP’s social media sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP), Instagram (HFTP_HITEC), YouTube and Flickr for the latest updates.