Read these 24 Foreign Travel Advisories Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Travel Insurance tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you are traveling abroad, aim to stay at a reputable hotel. Not only will you get all the amenities, you'll also get a sense of security. Especially if the room has a safe. You can leave your passports and extra cash in the room without having to worry. However, if luxury hotel accommodations don't fit your budget then you might have to be bit more careful with your valuables. This is where a money belt comes in handy. A money belt is essentially a wallet in belt form so you can wear it under your clothes at all times. Not only will it make you feel more secure at night it also prevents you from being pick pocketed during the day.
If you encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties or other problems abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. Although consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, they can help you find legal assistance. Consular officers cannot cash checks, lend money, or act as travel agents. However, in an emergency, consular officers can help you get in touch with your family back home to inform them on how to wire funds to you and to let them know of your situation. Consular officers can also provide you with the latest information about adverse conditions abroad.
If you get sick, you can contact a consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a list of local doctors, dentists, and medical specialists, along with other medical information. If you are injured or become seriously ill, a consul will help you find medical assistance and, at your request, inform your family or friends. Health Precautions Air pollution abroad may sometimes be severe. Air pollution and high altitudes are a particular health risk for the elderly and persons with high blood pressure, anemia, or respiratory or cardiac problems. If this applies to you, consult your doctor before traveling. In high altitude areas most people need a short adjustment period. If traveling to such an area, spend the first few days in a leisurely manner with a light diet and reduced intake of alcohol. Avoid strenuous activity, this includes everything from sports to rushing up the stairs. Reaction signs to high altitude are lack of energy, a tendency to tire easily, shortness of breath, occasional dizziness, and insomnia. If possible, drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for 20 minutes. Be aware of ice cubes that may not have been made with purified water. Vegetables and fruits should be peeled or washed in a purifying solution. A good rule to follow is if you can't peel it or cook it, do not eat it. Diarrhea may be treated with antimicrobial treatment which may be prescribed or purchased over the counter. Travelers should consult a physician, rather than attempt self-medication, if the diarrhea is severe or persists several days.
3rd world nations are areas that suffer from extreme poverty. Unfortunately, it is this extreme poverty that leads to begging and of course crime. So when traveling through the city streets in any of these areas here are some tips to keep in mind that can keep you safe:
- Don't walk in a slow crowd you will be an easy target for pick-pocketing thieves.
- Don't travel with big cumbersome luggage
- Be suspicious of anyone who approaches you out of the blue
In most countries, a guide for tourists consists of a book you drag along to every museum or site. However, if you are vacationing in a 3rd world country a guide could take on a more human form. This is one international travel tip you should take advantage of. One, because human guides in these countries usually don't charge much money for their services. Two, they really know what is going on in the country at that moment. Where you can go and where to stay away from. Probably the best way to get a guide is through a friend. Using a guide they have already used reduces the amount of unexpected surprises you could get from an unknown person. If you can't get a recommendation from a friend the hotel is your second best bet. Since hotels are in the area they know the locals. They probably have a list of guides you could call. Though, whatever guide you choose keep your wits about you. Don't be afraid to question your guide if you feel like he/she is doing something or taking you to a place that makes you uncomfortable.
No one on the planet can plan for the unplanned. Things happen. Murphy's law. We are all familiar with it. When day-to-day bad luck occurs it's not so bad. However, if that bad luck follows you on your $10,000.00 trip then it can cause problems. One insurance to guard against this is, travel insurance. Specifically, Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance. It's a smart travel precaution that basically covers your costs if you need to cut your trip short due to an emergency or sickness. Though, to what degree depends on the policy. So surf the net and compare rates and policy benefits before you settle on one.
Another way to learn what you need to enter a country is by actually going to the country itself -- even if you haven't left the United States. You can find it at a mini-representation known as an embassy. The United States plays host to all types of country embassies. These places will tell you if you need a visa (or any other documentation) you would need to enter their country. The best place to go for a list of these embassies is the US State Department. They have a current list of every Embassy and Diplomat on file. If a US state Department is not within driving distance you can always surf. An up-to-date embassy list is located at www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl
Diarrhea, is an unpleasant ailment to discuss and even more unpleasant to get. It is actually the most common illness people get overseas. Usually, caused from eating veggies or fruit that hasn't been cleaned properly. Another major cause is dehydration. Fortunately, both of these problems can be avoided if you drink & use either bottled or purified water. This method should be used first before you resort to drugs. The problem with medicines is if you're body isn't used to them (especially if it is bought overseas) you might wind up with worse problems than the Diarrhea. Remember ice is also water, so if you do order a cola in a restaurant (you are unsure of) it is best to order it without
When it comes to visiting 3rd world nations there is always an element of (shall we say) unpredictability. Between an unstable government & massive poverty you lose that sense of certainty. As a travel precaution you should check out background notes issued by the US Department of State. These are basically abbreviated facts, and political views that are aimed at answering general questions like:
- Is it ok to do business with a certain country?
- What do I need to know before I visit this place?
Basic stuff like that. These pamphlets are available to download off their site at www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn
Move purposefully and confidently. If you should find yourself in a crowded area, such as in an elevator, subway, marketplace, or in busy tourist areas, exercise special caution to avoid theft. Help prevent theft by carrying your belongings securely. Carry purses tucked under an arm and not dangling by a strap. Carry valuables hidden in an inside front pocket or in a money belt, not in a hip pocket. You may wish to wrap your wallet with rubber bands to make it more difficult for someone to slip it from your pocket unnoticed. Money belts or pouches that fit around your shoulder, waist or under clothing are available through some luggage shops and department stores.
Each year, about 6,000 Americans die abroad. Two thirds of them are Americans who live overseas, but approximately 2,000 Americans per year die while visiting abroad. Consular officers will contact the next of kin in the United States and will explain the local requirements. It is a worthwhile precaution to have insurance that covers the cost of local burial or shipment of remains home to the United States (see information on medical assistance programs). Otherwise, this cost must be borne by your next of kin and can be extremely expensive. The U.S. government cannot pay for shipment of remains to the United States.
Sex. It's a global activity everyone is familiar with. We see it enough on tv. In the movies. We even see newspapers photos of our favorite actors doing it in public. All kidding aside, sex can also be harmful. If you do not have the proper protection you could get an STD (sexually transmitted disease). Abstinence is obviously the best form of protection. However, this might not work for everyone. Though, everyone should be familiar with the STD stats before they travel to a certain country. Especially 3rd world nations. They tend to have much greater cases of AIDS and other diseases. So be smart before you be intimate. Make sure you're prepared with protection.
We live in a technologically advanced society. We have computers that can process information in seconds. Cars that can hit 0 –60 in even less time. Yet, when it comes to getting information from the government it seems we are still in the dark ages. One of the reasons for this bureaucratic bumbling is the government has too many moving parts that help it run. There are so many departments they start to lose track of themselves. So when it comes time for gathering information citizens experience what's called “red tape”. If you are trying to get travel information it can also be a sticky situation. That is if you don't know where to look. The Bureau of Counselor Affairs actually has a website that is pretty much “red tape” free. It not only displays lots of information, but it's also organized in a way that's easy to use. You can find this government anomaly at travel.state.gov.
U.S. Department of State Publication 10867 Bureau of Consular Affairs May 2002 There has been an increase in the number of Americans traveling abroad - especially women traveling alone either for business or pleasure. This information was prepared by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs to provide general information for women who plan to travel abroad alone. Each country and culture has their own views of what is appropriate behavior for women. Although you may not agree with these views, it is wise to abide by the local laws and customs to avoid problems. Please become familiar with the laws and customs of the places where you wish to go. Here are two examples of situations you may encounter: It is illegal in Laos to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to one's hotel room. Foreigners in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in the past for "improper dress." Women traveling alone can be more vulnerable to problems in certain cultures. Keeping in mind the following information can help make your trip as safe and rewarding as possible.
Along with keeping important travel documents you should also keep your wits about you. So many times you read about tragic stories of people doing things they are not experienced at doing. Sports like skydiving, scuba diving and bungee jumping. To participate in these activities in the US you will need to have a couple of courses under your belt. Though, in some parts of the world you don't really need any experience, if you have the cash. So before you sign on for the #1 thrill experience of your life, think twice. You might feel like courses are boring. However, they are taught for a reason. To prevent you from doing something stupid that could prove fatal.
It's ironic that we are known as the human race, yet at times we can be anything but. World climate can change on a dime today. At one moment one country could be hiding weapons of mass destruction. While in the next instance another country has “massive upheaval” problems. For this reason before venturing to leave our country (en route to another) you should listen to what are State Department is saying about the world state of affairs. Usually, international travel warnings (issued by the U.S. Department of State) are pretty public. Open any newspaper and you'll find out where in the world these problem areas exist. However, if you are heading to a lesser known area of the world the mass media might not be able to help. In this case you should check out the U.S. Department of State's website. You will get a run down of every travel warning in every country. Also, checking out the news while you're in the foreign country isn't such a bad idea either. If it is not an “English Speaking” country there are still options. Most hotels have English international news channels. Plus, provide English daily newspapers.
Unfortunately, we live in a world with an unequal playing field. Some countries are much more further along than others. As Americans, we live in a prosperous society. So much so that we might take basic necessities (like water) for granted. This however, is something that should not be overlooked when traveling to a 3rd world nation. Living conditions in these parts of the globe might be a health risk for those that are not used to that way of life. So if you do decide to go to a place like this, pack smart. A good travel safety tip would be to bring along a water purifier. Bottled water should always be your first choice. However, if this isn't possible then besides using the purifier you should also boil the water just to be safe rather than sick. Remember, to also use this clean water when washing off fruit to eat.
Travel warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid certain countries. The countries listed on this website are currently on that list. In addition to this list, the State Department issues Consular Information Sheets for every country of the world with information on such matters as the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, any areas of instability, and the location of the nearest U.S. embassy orconsulate in the subject country. http://travel.state.gov/travel/warnings_current.html
Department of State Publication 10337 Bureau of Consular Affairs Revised August 1996 TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS FOR OLDER AMERICANS Before you go, read up on the culture, people, and history for the places you will travel. Book stores and libraries are good resources. Travel magazines and the travel sections of major newspapers tell about places to visit and also give advice on everything from discount airfares to international health insurance. Many travel agents and foreign tourist bureaus provide free information on travel abroad. For up-to-date travel information on any country in the world that you plan to visit, obtain the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet. They cover such matters as health conditions, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security conditions, drug penalties, and areas of instability. In addition, the State Department issues Travel Warnings when it recommends Americans defer travel to a country because of unsafe conditions. Travel Warnings are under continuous review by the Department of State and are removed when conditions warrant. The Department of State also issues Public Announcements as a means to disseminate information quickly about relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions which would pose significant risks to the security of American travelers.
One of the main responsibilities of the US Department of State is to issue passports. Which is probably the single most important document an international traveler can possess. If you are getting a passport for the first time you should start at the post office. There you can pick up applications. The passport lasts about 10 years before it needs to be renewed. If you are renewing your passport you can also do it at the post office. However, to avoid the lines you might want to consider doing it by mail. Just simply download the application from the US State Department website. Then pop it in the mail with 2 photos and proof of citizenship (birth certificate, passport or driver's license.) Usually, the processing and printing of your passport takes about a handful of weeks. In case of travel emergencies you can get your passport in the same day. However, you can only accomplish this at one of the US State Department offices around the country.
It might be hard to believe (even as you get caught in a sudden down pour the weather man swore wouldn't happen) weather is in fact a science. Maybe the day-to-day stuff is a little off. However, seasonally it's pretty much a sure thing. Though, these seasonal climate conditions are different throughout the world. Even within countries, temperatures and weather can have huge ranges. If you flew from the mountains in Colorado to the sands of Miami Beach you'd figure that out pretty quick. So before you book your trip you might want to factor in the weather. Will it be hurricane season where you're going? Are tornadoes common at this time of year? These foreign travel advisories can have a very big impact when you plan your trip. One place you can get this type of information is through the National Board of Tourism in that country. Tour & travel companies are also pretty savvy as to when a country has a high season of tourism. That's why rates vary so much throughout the year. So during a bad weather season you could take advantage of very low rates. However, you might end up at a huge disadvantage because of the weather.
Health problems sometimes affect visitors abroad. Information on health precautions can be obtained from local health departments or private doctors. Health Insurance Policy It is wise to review your health insurance policy before you travel. In some places, particularly at resorts, medical costs can be as high or higher than in the United States. If your insurance policy does not cover you abroad, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a policy that does. There are short-term health insurance policies designed specifically to cover travel. If your travel agent cannot direct you to a medical assistance company, look for information in travel magazines. The U.S. government cannot pay to have you medically evacuated to the United States. The Social Security Medicare program does not provide for payment of hospital or medical services obtained outside the United States. However, some Medicare supplement plans offer foreign medical care coverage at no extra cost for treatments considered eligible under Medicare. These are reimbursement plans. You must pay the bills first and obtain receipts for submission them later for compensation. Many of these plans have a dollar ceiling per trip.
Information on immunizations and health precautions for travelers can be obtained from local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559, private doctors, or travel clinics. General guidance can also be found in the U.S. Public Health Service book, Health Information for International Travel. Immunizations are normally recommended against diptheria, tetanus, polio, typhoid, and hepatitis A for travelers. Generally, these immunizations are administered during childhood.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|