Apply for or Renew a Passport
When traveling abroad, the first and foremost item on your travel prep list is applying for or renewing your passport. Go to the US Passport Website to get started. Plan ahead! Processing time for a routine application or renewal is 4 – 6 weeks. You can pay extra to have it expedited (2 – 3 weeks), or you can process your application at an agency site in as little as 8 business days. If you don’t have any agency office near you, then you can use a service like Travel Document Systems to get your passport processed as quickly as possible.
2017 is a busy year for passport renewals! For more information about this, and how passports are changing, why you need 4 empty pages, and the 6 month rule, check out this Condé Nast article.
6 Month Rule
As a general rule of thumb, if your passport will expire within 6 months of your travel dates, you will need to renew your passport. There are some exceptions, but why risk your overseas vacation?!?! So, check those dates carefully, and plan ahead and make sure your passport is valid. For more details on the 6 month rule, see this article by The Points Guy.
Do I Need a Visa?
If you are traveling to the European Union, you do not need a visa. (But, there have been some rumors about that rule changing in the future.) To find out visa requirements for any worldwide destination, visit the U.S. Department of State website.