Each year The Times' travel staff updates basic information for readers preparing for journeys around the world, covering such subjects as passports, visas, foreign government tourist offices in the United States and a variety of other topics. Our theme today: International Travel '89. Whether you're a first-time traveler or a regular reader of these pages, you'll discover tips and advice to make your journey more rewarding.
Here are the facts: Adult passports ($42) are good for 10 years (applicants under 18 pay $27 for 5 years). Take along four items: (1) evidence of U.S. citizenship, (2) additional identification such as a driver's license, (3) two photos measuring two inches square, (4) cash, check or money order in the exact amount required for your passport. For recorded instructions, call (213) 209-7070. Apply at the U.S. Passport Agency, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., West Los Angeles (near the San Diego Freeway) or at post offices or county courthouses near your home. Regional director Sakae Hawley advises applicants at the Passport Agency to avoid the busy midday period (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Travelers can apply for a visa personally or else turn to one of the professionals listed below.
--Visas International, 3169 Barbara Court, Los Angeles 90068. This company (celebrating its 25th anniversary) is fast, efficient. One of the nation's most experienced. For a free brochure detailing visa requirements, mail a stamped self-addressed envelope to Visas International at the address above. Other details by calling (213) 850-1192.
--World Wide Visa Service, 1712 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale 91202. For appointments call (213) 245-0934.
--Intercontinental Visa Service, Suite 185, World Trade Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90071. Telephone (213) 625-7175.
--International Passports & Visas, 205 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 204, Los Angeles 90212. Telephone (213) 274-2020 or (818) 784-8472.
--For residents outside the Los Angeles area, check with your local travel agency for visa applications, or contact the the consulate of the country you intend to visit.
Of the Western European nations, only France requires a visa. Apply at the French Consulate, 8350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Telephone (213) 653-3120. Addresses of other consular offices can be found in the white pages of your telephone directory.
The U.S. State Department's Office of Consular Affairs has prepared a series of helpful travel booklets ($1 each), including one titled "Tips for Travelers" (information on weather, customs, currency and health, plus addresses of foreign embassies in the United States). Copies from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. This same office will mail you addresses/telephone numbers of American embassies/consulates abroad (publication No. 7877), and provides travel advisories relating to security risks overseas.
--Photocopy your travel documents (passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license, credit cards) for use if reissuance is necessary in the event of loss/theft while abroad.
--List serial numbers of your traveler's checks, cashing checks only as additional foreign currency is needed.
--Don't exchange currency at black market rates, particularly in Eastern Bloc nations where authorities come down hard on offenders.
--Contact U.S. embassy staffs in the event of legal, medical or financial emergencies.
--Take along your medical insurance identity card as well as a claim form.
--Before leaving home, inquire about "evacuation insurance" should an emergency arise.
We've mentioned this previously but it's worth repeating: Make a list of travel documents, clothing, medication, then check off each item while packing. Ensures against the risk of leaving behind needed belongings. Because I suffer dreadfully from jet lag, I also jot down a list of items that must be attended to when I return home. (It's hard to concentrate when your head feels like it's filled with cotton.) Another tip: Carry a sweater in your flight bag (airplane cabins often cool down like a refrigerator).
International Driver's License
Although some countries require only your U.S. driver's license, it's wise to obtain an international driver's license--just in case. They're issued at offices of the Automobile Club of Southern California. Take your California driver's license and two passport-size photos. And remember to ask your insurance agent if your policy provides coverage overseas. If not, consider buying accident/liability insurance when renting a car.