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Are you traveling internationally this summer? Have you sent for your passport? That’s one step that you can’t leave until the last minute. 

The website for U.S. Passports & International Travel [] indicates that it can take 6-8 weeks to get your passport after it receives your application. Expedited service (2-3 weeks) is available at many post offices, but it costs an extra $60. If you already have a passport, check its expiration date and be sure it has at least a few blank pages.

If you need one even faster, you’ll need to visit a passport office.

Keep the link handy because it has a status-check feature and phone numbers to call for information or for applying. Click on Before You Go for tips on staying safe while abroad. See the Alerts and Warnings sections for information about locations with violence, attacks and even health alerts. If you need help while you’re away, click on Emergency Assistance to find the embassy or consulate closest to you.

Consider enrolling (it’s free) in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( Run by the U.S. Department of State, you’ll have access to help should you run into trouble overseas.

Tell your doctor in advance if you’ll need an extra prescription while you’re away. Then keep the medication with you, not packed into checked luggage and not left in hotel rooms.

Do not announce online that you’re leaving! But give friends or family at home a copy of your itinerary.

Test-pack your luggage to make sure everything is going to fit and not go over the weight limit. Don’t take things you can get at your destination, like soaps and shampoo.

For more information on having a calm, peaceful, safe trip, check for tips.

(c) 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.

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