You may think you are ready to travel, but you first need to make sure that you stay safe. There are a number of bad things that can happen in a strange country, and if you are not prepared it can be much more difficult to get things set straight. With strange laws, strange practices, and even a strange language, sorting through problems in a foreign place is not like sorting through something in your own country.
1. Visit Your Doctor
You might be up-to-date on your current shots, but visiting another country might require special vaccinations. Check with your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip to ensure you have all the necessary vaccinations for traveling. You will also want to consider your supply of any prescriptions or medications you may be taking and stock up for the trip.
2. Check for Alerts & Warnings
The State Department keeps tabs on the civil unrest, poor diplomatic relationships, and dangerous conditions that might arise in the country you wish to visit. Simply check on the Travel Alerts & Warnings up until your day of travel to ensure the conditions have not become too dangerous for the trip. Knowing what you might have to face will be very important to consider before leaving.
3. Scan and Pack Documents
You will want to bring your passport, even if the country you are entering only requires a driver’s license or birth certificate. Traveling by land, air, or sea will require a passport for reentry into the US. You will want to scan and back up your passport, visa, hotel confirmations, itinerary, driver’s license, plane tickets and anything else you carry in your wallet. Because your smartphone is hackable and your wallet can be stolen, you will need to protect your identity while traveling and keep two printed copies of these documents along just in case the originals are lost or stolen.
4. Call Your Bank and Get Local Currency
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To make sure your bank doesn’t stop your card because of suspected fraud, be sure to call them ahead and let them know you will be out of the country. If you suddenly start using your bank or credit card in a strange location, the bank might halt funds until it can reach you and be sure your cards weren’t stolen. Also, check the monetary conversion and do the numbers to make sure your expenses are going to be what you expect. Always pack local currency to have with you – not every place you will visit has easy access to an ATM machine or takes credit cards.
5. Research Local Customs
You might be very surprised to find that certain things that seem perfectly harmless to you can be seen as incredibly offensive in other countries. Do your research to find out what is expected and how you can best fit in. From modest clothing to offensive customs, you will want to steer clear of accidental conflict in a strange land. Reading the experiences of past visitors that have traveled from the US to the country you plan to visit is an excellent way to discover the local expectations that you might never otherwise consider ahead of time.
6. Take Snacks
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Though it might not seem like a safety precaution, foreign food can sometimes be a shock to the system. Take granola bars or easy-to-pack, nutritious snacks that will tide you over if you have times where you need something to taste like home. It might be very comforting to have a familiar taste if the local food is striking you as strange, or if there is a point of your travels where food is too expensive or not available for a time.
Your travels will go smoothly if you stay alert and do your research well beforehand. Enjoy your trip and relax in knowing that you are prepared for the journey to see brand new places and experience a strange culture. Traveling to another country is an exciting thing and can bring a whole new perspective to your own understanding of the world.