Do You Need a Travel Visa?
This is one of the first questions you need to find the answer to once you've decided where you're going.
Fortunately, because you are a privileged US traveler you CAN travel to 174 countries or more visa-free (at least 99 countries are visa-free) or get one immediately at the border.
BUT sometimes you WILL, especially if you're going to countries like China or Russia. And while some countries require you to apply for your visa through a lengthy process at your closest embassy, many more have e-visa programs which allow you to apply, pay and receive your visa online. Use e-visa programs when available because they tend to be faster and cheaper than the traditional method.
ALWAYS check to see if you need a travel visa before booking your trip, even if your travel is to a country you've visited before. You never know if things have changed or how long it may take you to receive your travel visa, which is why you should wait to book until after you know what's up.