Be sure to verify that you have your passport — and that it has not expired — well before your international trip.
Keep in mind that the expiration date on that document is misleading.
That is because you generally want to have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of your trip, according to Julie Hall, a spokeswoman at travel organization AAA.
If you need to renew your passport or apply for one, be sure to leave plenty of time. The process can take up to six weeks, Hall said.
It is possible to obtain expedited passports in some cities, such as New York, though those services may be harder to find in other locations, said Erika A. Richter, director of communications at the American Society of Travel Agents.
Not updating this key document could be a deal breaker if you arrive at the airport gate unprepared.
"That is a situation where you would have to have someone advocate on your behalf," Richter said. "If you're not insured, that's your whole vacation right there."