Obtain a Valid Passport and Visa
As with everything, preparation is the key to a glitch-free experience. As you prepare for your trip to China, you will need to plan not only your itinerary, but also your travel documents, which will consist of a valid passport and a travel visa. You can’t go to China without them.

If you don’t already have a valid passport, your international identification, you can apply for a new one or renew the expired one through the United States postal service (be sure to check current prices). You can purchase a passport photo at the post office as well.

Another option for getting a passport is through a private agency. A Google search on passports will turn up a host of companies that can assist you with a passport or a passport photo. Since I have never used one of those services, I can’t speak about them with first-hand knowledge.

A visa is like a permission slip to enter a particular country and it accompanies your passport. Although some countries do not require one, China does. The current visa application requires an individual’s purpose for travel plus travel details. Therefore, have all flights, hotels, and friends with whom you will be staying scheduled before you apply for the visa. If needed, you can expedite your visa application, but that will cost extra. As far as where to purchase visas, I can tell you that I have always been impressed with the service, price, and professionalism from Visa Express.

Visa Express
3120 Southwest Freeway
Suite 108
Houston, TX 77098

It would be wise to apply for your passport and visa at least a couple of months in advance as it takes at least four to six weeks to process a standard passport application. At an extra cost, expedited passport services offer a two to three week turnaround, and expedited visa services offer turn times between two and four days, but please note that variables in delivery options can add to the timeline― and we know about Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Plan accordingly.
Speaking of flights, I have always received great service, prices, flexibility, wise council, and patience while working with David Clopton at Send Me Travel.

4570 Parkcrest Ct NE
Marietta, GA 30068-4249
800-356-4215 (toll free)
770-509-0441 (local)
770-509-1687 (fax)

Condition Your Attitude
That’s right! Travel abroad with the knowledge that you are going into a new culture, and some things will probably be different than what you are accustomed to seeing and doing. Please don’t think that your way is the only way or the right way. China’s culture has been around much longer than America’s, so clearly the people of China are doing something right!

Condition Your Body
Now that you’ve conditioned your attitude, you may want to condition your body as well. Of all the places that you will see when you go to China, you simply must see the Great Wall. On the Great Wall, you will do lots of walking: on slopes, stairs, and hills. I would encourage you to prepare your body by doing some walking before your trip and pack some good walking shoes!