I have been to 80 cities in 30 countries. I’m not a travel expert by any means, but I do have some travel advice for the next guy. The biggest tip I can give is to do your research. Most of the tips I’m going to provide fall in this category and will be explained in greater detail.
Check travel Warnings and Alerts.
Make sure it is safe to travel where you’re heading. Travel Warnings and Alerts are available at any of the regional passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. The information is also available online at the Department of State homepage. All information about travel warnings and alerts are updated constantly.
Register your trip. It is a free service provided by the State Department.
I don’t want to deter you from traveling, but there is a good number of tourists that disappear each year. By registering your trip, they will at least have a starting place to look if you go missing.
When traveling abroad, make sure you have the address and phone number of your local U.S. Embassy.
In an emergency you want to have this information readily available.
Before traveling, find out if your health insurance company will cover you in an emergency abroad.
In the event of an emergency, cost is not your first concern, I know. It is however, a third or fourth concern. I had a friend who traveled to Thailand and had to have an emergency appendectomy. He spent four days in a hospital in Bangkok and when he got home he had a bill for $20,000 that wasn’t covered by his U.S. provider. A travel insurance policy would have cut that cost to almost nothing.
Notify your credit card companies when traveling to unusual places or for long periods of time. The last thing you want to happen is to have your cards canceled by your credit card company because they believed the card had been stolen.
When checking your backpack at an airport, use a pack cover to prevent pockets opening and straps catching on conveyor belts. Now I can tell you from experience you don’t want to be the person at the airport collecting their pack that is open and ripped to shreds. To add insult to injury, my journal was missing and everyone in baggage claim saw what type of boxers I wear.
Keep 20 bucks in your shoe. In an emergency, $20 can get you a ride, meal, and a phone call. It hasn’t happened to me but I have met people with horror stories about being robbed abroad. With no money and no ID, they had to beg for a few bucks for a cab ride to the U.S. Embassy.
If your unsure about drinking the water where you’re going, use a water bottle with a filter. You can get one at any camping store. When I was in Egypt and I was kicking myself for not having one of these. Remember different countries have different organisms in the water that the locals’ bodies are used to. Forgieners might not have that same luck in drinking the water. When in doubt, drink bottled water with a name that you trust.
Go with the flow. Traveling, especially aboard is one of the best experiences you could possibly have. You’ll meet tons of travelers who just want to see the world and have a good time doing it. Be respectful of others and their beliefs when abroad because they might be different from your own. Be open minded and friendly and I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
Until my next article, cheers!