Vacations are a time to escape the pressures of everyday life. For most people, taking that much-needed vacation is one of the principal highlights of their year.  

However, before you start packing your bags, you should know that your destination might have some different laws than what you’re used to.  

“When you travel, you’re subject to local laws and regulations,” says Stephanie Webb, associate at Radix Law. “Knowing your rights and your responsibilities when you’re in a foreign country is extremely important.”  

Hitting the Road  

Many Americans love to travel by car, including on foreign soil. Luckily, there are many available ways to do just that.  

However, the process of renting a car internationally comes with some laws and regulations of its own.  

Webb emphasizes that having insurance is essential if you’re looking to rent a car in a foreign country and recommends that you check your insurance policy to see if you’re covered there.  

She states that some credit cards that offer travel-related advantages can also come with coverage. If not, the rental agency will likely offer insurance.  

Although, insurance isn’t the only thing you should keep in mind: “Many countries require you to get an International Driving Permit that must be obtained before you leave the United States,” she says.    

Taking Fido on a Plane  

Nowadays, more and more individuals are using animals to help them accomplish tasks, from service dogs to emotional support animals. When it comes going on vacation, these beloved companions can be just as important.  

To help accommodate these and other needs, there are several procedures related to bringing animals on airplanes which everyone should know.  

“The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits airlines from discriminating against travelers with physical or mental impairments,” Webb states. Through this law, such travelers are permitted to fly with service or emotional support animals, she explains.  

Webb clearly defines service animals as “animals that are trained to perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability,” and emotional support animals as “animals that are untrained but provide comfort to their owners.”  

She further elaborates that you may need a certification from a licensed health professional for emotional support animals, but not for service animals.   

Webb recommends to “consult the airline’s specific guidelines before traveling to ensure your animal will be permitted to board.”  

Also, if you plan on taking Fido to a foreign country, she recommends to look at that country’s health requirements when it comes to bringing in animals.  

“Many require quarantine or proof of health records upon arrival,” she concludes.  

Worst-case scenario  

While we should all try our best for this to not come about, there have been times when Americans have been arrested in foreign countries. If this does occur, Webb offers some advice.   

“The first thing to do is to contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to let them know of the arrest,” she states.  

According to Webb, they can contact your family and friends, connect you with a list of local English-speaking attorneys, and orient you with the local system of criminal justice.  

Of course, this would be a worst-case scenario. But when leaving home for new surroundings, it’s best to keep these options in mind. That way, you’ll know what to do. 

Know Before You Go  

No matter your international destination, there are some general laws and guidelines of which everyone should be made aware. Paramount among these are the passport and visa requirements of your destination.  

According to Webb, if you’re a U.S citizen vacationing in Australia, even for a short time, you must always obtain a travel visa.  

Similarly, all Americans heading to Italy must have a passport that is valid for not only the intended stay, but at least 90 days beyond.  

In short, “all travelers must make sure they review the requirements of their destination country and obtain the appropriate paperwork before they depart,” she states.  

And, if you’re looking to be more informed about the rights and laws of your specific country and destination, Webb recommends that you check out the U.S Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website 

Similarly, she states that you can register to be a part of the Bureau’s Smart Traveler Enrollment program. That way, you’ll receive any important travel advisories that have to do with upcoming trips for which you’ve registered.  

By doing these things, and continuing to stay informed and prepared, you’ll be able to head confident and ready to any destination.