Specific info is always provided for each trip through “AFS Tips for the Trip” and “Heading Abroad with AFS” which are provided after booking.  If you need help with a passport or visa use Passport Visa Advisors 704-246-6373  Marc Gilland

Inoculations- If necessary we will tell you via TIPS FOR TRIPS.  Tips will be available on the itinerary page on our website.  Packing and more will be there too.

We encourage you to do this yourself. However it’s important to wait until our air schedule is posted in the Trip Tips before you make your plans.  if you need assistance we can help. Please phone us to discuss.

If you need help getting your own air, contact Atik, our excellent air rep.  212) 481-1800

To prevent errors, send him you’re with an AFS group and give the following:

Date of birth  Mo/Da/Yr
Dates/Routing  (specific cities they need to fly out of to connect)

WORLD ELECTRIC GUIDE  follow link for a comprehensive list

Electric needs – Most hotels have hair dryers.  Its wise to get a worldwide outlet adapter that will fit 150 different countries.  If you’re a techie with many items (cellphone, iPod, laptop, camera etc.) You should buy consider buying an international power strip.  (Google it.)

There are three items you may need to switch between the different power systems:

  • Adapters or Plugs
  • Converters
  • Transformers

The adapter is simply a connector that changes the plug shape to match the outlet. It does not change the voltage or electrical output in any way. If you know that the plug shape is the only difference between your equipment and the electrical system you are planning to use, then an adapter is all you need. Some items come with ability to use either 110v or 220v built right in. In fact, most computers now have smart power supplies that are switchable between the two. Look at the different plug shapes shown below for various countries.

If your equipment requires a specific voltage, then you need a converter. Converters use an electronic switch to approximate 110v by rapidly cutting on and off the current received from a 220v source. This is okay for some electrical items like hair dryers but not good for anything electronic (something with a computer chip in it). Also, converters should not be used for anything that is going to be plugged in longer than a few minutes.

Electronic items need a transformer. You will also want to use a transformer if you are stepping up from 110 to 220. Where a converter would simply limit the amount of electrical output without really reducing it, a transformer actually reduces the voltage of the electricity going through it. This is a very important distinction. Always use a transformer with electronics!

All trips differ with activity levels.  You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy one of our adventures. You do, of course, have to be in good health and fit, possess a reasonable level of fitness. Most of our tours are done the old-fashioned way, on foot.  We carefully pace our trips to allow people of many different ages and fitness levels to travel with us. And we always balance any hikes or lengthy city walking tours with plenty of ‘downtime’ to allow you to rest.

Our adventures are not appropriate for travelers using mobility aids. Some activities may have weight restrictions.  You must be able to keep up with the group.  It is essential that you tell the truth on your booking form.   You must also be comfortable participating in, on average, 3-5 hours of daily physical activities. We also can travel over some rugged paths, as well as bumpy, unpaved, dusty roads, both by bus and on foot.

The U.S. Transportation Administration  or TSA has posted answers to some frequently asked questions on their website and will continue to update them as measures evolve. Here are the major changes that affect travelers:

At U.S. Airports (Other countries may vary)

Only 3oz liquids or gels will be permitted in carry-on baggage.

Exceptions: Medicines, which must be presented for inspection at the checkpoint. Prescription medicine that matches the passenger’s name is permitted. Essential non-prescription medicines such as insulin are permitted.

Beverages purchased in the boarding area, beyond the checkpoint, must be consumed before boarding because they will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.

Laptop computers, cell phones and other electronic items ARE still allowed on board.

Keep a paper copy of your emailed e-ticket. We email this 3 weeks prior departure if you bought group air.   Some foreign airports will not let you  enter he airport without it.

Arrival time: Passengers should consult their individual airline, but the TSA recommends arriving at least two hours in advance of flight time. Again, keep in mind that if it is necessary to remove liquids at the checkpoint, time will be added to the process.

Additional bag searches: There will be more hand searches of bags at the checkpoint and a bag check at the gate immediately prior to boarding the aircraft.

Note: Passengers traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States will be subject to a more extensive screening process.

The process of obtaining, renewing, or updating a passport is exactly what one would expect when working with a government agency: tedious, mind-numbing, and overly complex. While you’ll find everything you need to know about the often befuddling process on the U.S. State Department website, we’ve made things a little simpler for you by breaking down the basics—from forms to fees to IDs—and providing helpful links to the appropriate forms and websites.

Getting your first passport

To get your first passport, you’ll have to show up in person. Make an appointment at an acceptance facility or passport agency; search for the one closest to you here. You likely live near a facility where you can get a passport. Many post offices and even some public libraries can accept passport applications. Arrive at your passport agency with:

• Your filled-in DS-11 application form.

• Evidence of U.S. citizenship. Find a list of acceptable documents here.

• Valid identification. Find a list of acceptable ID here.

• A photocopy of the front and back of the identification you’re bringing on clean, white 8½” x 11″ paper.

• Your application fee. For a first-time adult passport, the total fee is $135.

• Passport photos. You can read more about the specifications for passport photos here. But most major drug stores, such as Walgreens or CVS, will sell appropriately sized passport photos that comply with government standards; this makes things a little easier.

Renewing a passport

You have two options here: Either you have your old passport or you don’t. If the former’s true, you can apply through the mail as long as your most recent passport is undamaged, was issued when you were at least 16 years old, and isn’t more than 15 years old. If you are nodding “yes” to all of that, simply mail in your old passport with the required documents and photos, and you’ll receive a new one in the mail in roughly four to six weeks. (Don’t worry. You’ll get your old passport back.) Here’s what you need: Form DS-82, your renewal fee ($110 for an adult), passport photos, and your old passport. Get more information about renewing a passport through the mail here.

Keep in mind that if you’ve changed your name since your last passport was issued, include an original certificate or court order that documents this; those without such papers must apply for a renewal in person.

Don’t have your old passport? Then you can’t get a passport renewed by mail. Head to a passport agency in person.

Lost or stolen passports

If your previous passport was lost or stolen, you’ll have to apply for a new one in person. You’ll need to bring two forms in this case: the standard DS-11 passport application and Form DS-64, which asks you to describe what happened to your little blue book.

Unfortunately, a replacement passport isn’t free. You’ll have to pay the standard application fee—$135—when applying for your new passport. Refer to the “Getting your first passport” section above; it lists everything else you’ll need to bring with you, including passport photos and identification.

Remember to always report your passport as missing the moment you’re sure it’s gone. You can do this by calling 1-877-487-2778.

Lost or stolen passports abroad

First and foremost, be prepared! Always travel with a photocopy of your passport and other identification, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate; this will make your situation much easier if (knock on wood) your passport disappears.  Take a photo of your important documents and store them in the Cloud for easy retrieval when abroad.

The State Department advises that American travelers get in touch with the closest U.S. embassy or consulate if they lose their passports while abroad. You’ll have to go there in person to get a new passport in order to return home. In What to Do If You’ve Lost Your Bag, Wallet, Everything, Rick Steves writes, “A replacement passport costs $140 and can generally be issued within a few days, or faster if you make a good case that you need it right away. If you don’t have the funds, the embassy will help you contact someone at home who can wire money directly to the embassy.”

Expediting a passport

You can get your passport expedited in roughly two to three weeks (door-to-door) via the State Department when you pay an extra $60 plus $12.85 for overnight delivery in addition to the standard processing fees. (Processing times can vary, so check theState Department site for the most up-to-date estimate.)

Need it sooner? Schedule an appointment to show up in person at a regional passport agency if you require a passport for travel within two weeks.

We don’t normally recommend using passport expediting services, which sometimes charge hundreds of dollars to secure passports in as little as 24 hours, unless you’re desperate. If you have enough time to get your passport directly through the traditional government channels, do it that way. It’ll save you a ton of money.

You can check the status of a pending passport application here.

Changing your name on your passport

Good news: There’s no fee for changing the name on your passport if your passport was issued less than a year ago. If the book’s more than a year old, though, you must pay standard renewal fees.

To change your name, fill out the appropriate form (use Form DS-5504 if your current passport is less than a year old and Form DS-82 if your passport is more than a year old) and mail it with your current passport, original proof of name change, a passport photo, and renewal fees, if necessary. Read more about tweaking your name on your passport here. And congratulations on your new moniker. features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals