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Table of Contents

Health

  • In developing and third world countries it is often wise to avoid raw vegetables, salads, unpeeled fruit, raw shellfish (clams, oysters, etc.), cream, ice cream, ice cubes and even undercooked or cold food, which can be contaminated. Freshly cooked foods are often safer.
  • Try to avoid swimming, bathing and wading in freshwater streams and marshes as they often contain microbes that can make you sick. It pays to check with authorities to confirm that there is nothing dangerous in the water if you intend on swimming.
  • See your doctor and check with a Travel Health advisory such as the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization to see what shots you need for the country you are visiting. Remember to do the same for children who are traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Bring insect repellant & sunscreen – some insects carry diseases such as malaria. Mosquitoes generally bite from dusk to dawn, but some are daytime biters. When outside, try to wear light colored clothing, long pants and long sleeved shirts.
  • Make sure that the medication you bring is clearly labeled in its original bottle.
  • It’s always a good precaution to have a full check-up prior to departure, including a dental check. A visit to an optician for an eye test is also advisable
  • Check if it is ok to drink the water – if not, drinking bottled water or soft drinks. Make sure the bottles are not counterfeit.
  • Try to acclimatize yourself slowly to changes in heat, environment and altitude.
  • Always wear something that covers your feet as you might catch diseases such as ringworm or athletes foot.
Safety

  • Don’t open your hotel door to just anyone, even if they say they are security – call down to front desk to check their ID
  • Consider putting your money and passport in a money belt or shoulder belt
  • Be very careful in subways, busses and other crowded places where pickpockets prowl
  • Get to know the neighborhood in which you travel. Learn the locations of police stations, fire stations, hospitals, restaurants and stores that are open late.
  • Be wary of hotels which do not have adequate fire protection, such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinklers and fire escapes.
  • Criminals often work in pairs – one person will get your attention while the other steals your wallet, purse or shopping bag. Pay attention of your surroundings.
  • While on a train, try to sit in the middle cars where there are other passengers. Do not sit in an empty train car alone.
  • Make your car look local by removing the rental company decals and putting a local newspaper in the back.
  • Try to dress conservatively when you go abroad. You do not want to appear too much like a tourist as it attracts thieves.
  • Although you should avoid bringing valuables, if you are must bring something, store it in the hotel room safe.
  • Avoid parking lots that glitter with broken glass and get advice from your hotel on where and where not to park.
  • Try doing a general security check of your hotel and room when you arrive — such as checking to make sure windows are locked, see if there is a dead bolt on the door and make sure rooms that are connected to your room are locked.
  • Don’t tell strangers where you are staying.

Extra Safety Tips for Woman Travelers

  • Women traveling alone are the most vulnerable – keep an eye out for suspicious activities, take a room off the main floor and use a deadbolt lock.
  • Try to learn the sexual customs of the country you are traveling to – this may help avoid misunderstandings and unwanted advances.
  • Be aware of the local dress code, especially in Islamic countries.
  • If you are harassed or bothered, appeal to local women for assistance.
  • If someone asks if you are alone, say that your husband or boyfriend will be right back.
  • Have your key ready when you get near your hotel.
  • Use cabs at night instead of walking if possible.
  • Do not hang onto your purse if someone grabs it – it isn’t worth your life.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry in public.
  • Trust your senses, if it looks dangerous, it probably is. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Travel Insurance

  • Arrange for your travel insurance at least a month before leaving.
  • If you are covered through work, examine your plan booklet and call the insurance company to make sure you know what you are covered for. Most plans do not cover you abroad or do not cover evacuation expenses.
  • In the event of a claim, especially if at a hospital, have someone immediately call the insurance provider or company to pre-certify the claim. This is important because you will want to make sure that treatment is covered and you want to avoid any penalties which some travel plans have for non pre-certification. 
  • Make sure you bring your travel insurance card and / or travel insurance confirmation with you on your travels.
  • For the Single and Multi-Trip Travel plans, All Hospitalizations, Emergency Evacuations, Emergency Reunions, Trip Cancellations, and Repatriation of Remains must be Pre-certified. Simply call, or have your Physician call, your insurance provider and / or administrator with all information relevant to your claim. Be sure to have your ID number available. If you do not Pre-certify, some company’s medical expenses will be reduced by 50%, and all other expenses will be forfeited.
  • Make sure the insurer has a toll free line or collect number that you can call in the event of a claim.
  • The larger the deductible, the lower the premium.
  • Be careful about buying your travel insurance from a cruise line, airline or other travel company that may go out of business, and your travel insurance may not be honored.
  • Remember that the insurance generally only covers emergencies. So if you broke your arm before leaving and it needs treatment, it probably won’t be covered.
  • As obvious as it sounds, pay your premium! Coverage will not take affect if you forget to pay your premium.
  • Make sure you tell someone you are traveling with and / or a friend or relative at home that you have travel insurance. Make sure that they have the policy number and insurance company contact.
  • Make sure that the travel insurance company is able to pay claims directly to hospitals.
  • Most plans do not cover pre-existing medical conditions – make sure you read the plan terms and conditions carefully.
  • Get a travel insurance quote now!

Transportation Tips

  • Double check that you brought your tickets, passport and money with you before you leave home.
  • Make a list of things to bring.
  • Confirm your transportation, especially airline departure times as they can change without notice.
  • Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure to avoid complications and delays.
  • Bring some currency of the country you are traveling to.
  • Avoid exchanging money at airports and train stations as they usually have bad rates. Try a bank
  • Put a lock on your luggage as you may get something stolen or someone may smuggle contraband in your luggage
  • Never lose sight of your luggage, even at security checks
  • Travel lightly 
  • Do you have enough money for departure taxes?
  • Drink lots of fluids on the plane as the air is dry and you may get dehydrated, which affects your immune system
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee while on the plane, as these drinks make you thirsty
  • Fasten those seat belts in airplanes and in taxis!
  • Avoid excessive alcohol on the airplane as you will want to have your wits when you arrive and alcohol lowers your immune system and can make you dehydrated

Customs

  • Make sure you bring your prescription receipts with your prescriptions so you can avoid potential problems with customs authorities
  • Bring along a copy of your bill for expensive items such as jewelry and cameras so you can prove to customs that you purchased the items in your home country
  • Get a pamphlet or check your county’s customs rules before you purchase that expensive watch or ring
  • If you are bringing something valuable, bring proof of purchase with you to clearly prove that you bought it before you left on your trip.
  • Always be polite and respectful

Traveling Etiquette and Tipping

  • Make sure you don’t forget to say thank you local language
  • Check your bill or menu to see if it already includes service because you don’t want to tip twice

Packing Guide

  • Try to travel lightly – this can’t be said enough
  • A bag with the dimensions 9″ x 22″ x 14″ will fit under most airplane seats. Check with your airline!
  • Rather than take a huge supply of toiletries, bring just enough to get started. You can find anything you need in most countries.
  • Bring Travel detergent, usually in a tube – this will mean you won’t have to take as much
  • In the third world, try to avoid “cheap” hotels
  • Do not tell people you meet on the street what hotel you are staying at
  • Your hotel’s concierge can be a valuable resource, so make sure you give him/her a tip

Money

  • Make sure you check expiry on credit cards before you leave on your trip
  • Also check if credit card limit will be high enough for those fancy hotels
  • Photocopy front and back of all credit cards, debit cards and travelers checks and leave a copy in a safe place at home and with a trusted relative who you can call in the event your wallet is stolen or lost so that the cards can be cancelled
  • Memorize those Debit Card Pin #s
  • Research local currency rates
  • Plan a daily budget for incidentals
  • Banks often have the best exchange rates. Be wary of currency exchange booths at the airport and rail station as their rates are often sub-standard.

General Travel

  • Buy some traveler’s checks & don’t leave home without them.
  • Bring a credit card from at least 2 different card companies because one store or hotel may only take VISA or MasterCard.
  • Try spending more than just a few days in one city & possibly use it as your base for short day-trips to the surrounding area.
  • Try to take advantage of “shoulder” seasons, which are brief periods 2-4 weeks just before and after peak season. It may be worth it because they deliver moderate savings with generally good weather conditions. Thus, these offerings often sell out quickly.
  • Before you travel to your destination, check out the local events – such as Wimbelton in London, Mardi Gras in New Orleans or  Carnevale in Venice.
  • Europeans and many other countries measure temperatures in degrees Celsius. Zero degrees Celsius equals 32 degrees Fahrenheit (C x 9/5 + 32 = F). Even easier and nearly as
    accurate, double the Celsius temperature and add 30.
    A memory aid: 28xC =82xF (very hot).

Some Links
Here are some links to site with important information about health, environmental and political conditions that could be encountered on your next international trip. 

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

US State Department Travel Warnings