Adopting a child can sometimes take an agonizing amount of time, whether you're adopting internationally or locally. When you finally get the call telling you that you can come and pick up your newest family member, it's understandable to want to drop everything and go immediately. But when your adoption is an international adoption, you need to take some time to plan your trip carefully. Traveling to another country to pick up a child isn't like traveling to the next state, and your trip has to be planned with care. Take a look at some tips for packing and planning for international adoption travel.

Protect Yourself

Any type of international travel comes with a few risks. Before you go, you'll need to find out if there are any health issues that you need to be aware of in the region that you're traveling to. Check the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information. There you'll find out if there are any health alerts for the country that you're headed to and what precautions you need to take. For example, you may need certain vaccines for your own safety. In fact, some foreign governments may not allow you to enter the country if you don't have proof of certain vaccinations.

Another good website to check before you go is the Department of State website. There, under the travel heading, you can find information about everything from currency exchange rates to terrorism threats. Unfortunately, safety is something that you can't take for granted, so you need to inform yourself about any possible risks that may affect you in the country that you're visiting. You won't be able to protect your new child if you can't protect yourself.

Understand the Culture

If you haven't already, now is a good time to start reading up on the customs and cultures of your child's birth home. There are both short and long-term reasons for this. In the short-term, understanding a little bit about the country that you're traveling to will help you figure out how to pack and how to behave while you're there. For example, if you're traveling to a very conservative country, you may want to avoid packing revealing clothes like shorts or tank tops – you're less likely to get help and cooperation from the locals if you don't attempt to comply with their customs.

You should also find out if there are tourist attractions and cultural sites in the area that you'll be traveling to. In the long-term, it will be good for your child if you can inform them about the country and culture they were born into. Of course, there are many ways to learn about a particular culture – you can glean plenty of information from books and the internet – but there's no substitute for seeing it up close. Your child may one day appreciate your pictures and memories from your time spent exploring their birthplace.

Bring Cash

In spite of what the credit card commercials say, in many countries, credit is not as widely accepted as it is in the U.S. That's not to say that you won't be able to use credit cards at all, but you may find that cash is required at some key locations – like embassies, orphanages, and local branches of the adoption agency that you're using.

Of course, carrying a lot of cash comes with its own hazards when you're traveling. Make sure that you use an inconspicuous money belt and take the same precautions that you would take in any large U.S. cities. It's best not to carry the bulk of your cash in a purse or wallet because of the risk of pickpockets and purse snatchers.

Adoption travel can be complicated, but it's well worth taking the time to do it right. At the end of the excursion, you'll be headed home with the newest member of your family, and that's what matters most.

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