Top Tips for Safe International Travel

Guest Editor:
- Carrie Harrison-Ell, Senior Vice President of Hotel Programs for Kiwi Collection and mother of three; she is an expert on family travel. Carrie’s not-so-secret pleasures include: romantic trips to Siena, wine and cheese pairings and everything about the Mayan Riviera.

Traveling abroad can be an exciting undertaking and an invaluable experience packed with fond memories lasting a lifetime. Depending on the amount of time you will be in a foreign country, preparing for a trip overseas can take anywhere from a couple days to many months. Like many travelers, your primary thoughts probably consist of what clothing to pack, buying extra memory cards for your digital camera and figuring out if your cell phone will work in the country you’re going to be in.  Most importantly, you want to prepare as much as possible in advance to ensure a pleasant trip. After all, you’ll likely be in unfamiliar surroundings and amongst people that may not speak your language. Here are some valuable travel trips to help make sure your trip is everything you imagined and more!

DO safeguard your valuables when traveling to a foreign country. Use a fanny pack or something with a zipper, instead of an open pocket or purse. Before departure, alert your bank and credit card companies of dates and locations of travel. Pack as few credit cards as possible and keep a separate quick reference sheet with International numbers to report a theft. There are also services that will do this for you.

DO become conversationally proficient (if possible) or at least learn some key phrases and practice the local language before taking a trip to a foreign country. These days you don’t need costly books or software instruction programs. You can visit a site like www.livemocha.com to get free instruction and practice with native speakers through online chats.

DO make sure someone (friends or family) has a copy of your itinerary and appropriate contact details. Designate someone that you can check in with once you arrive and provide them with a general guideline on how often you will be checking in.

DO familiarize yourself with the local customs and laws – although you might only be a tourist, you are still responsible for following the laws of that country. The last thing you want to do is spend your valuable vacation time behind bars.

DO use the local currency. Find an easy formula for converting numbers in your head. www.xe.com has accurate and timely currency conversion rates.

DO map out destinations in advance. Ask your friends, family and colleagues for recommendations of safe places/areas to visit, as well as areas to avoid. If you’re taking a short trip, this will help to make sure you go everywhere you wanted to visit.

DON’T look like a tourist. Try to observe the styles of the locals, so you don’t become a target for people looking to prey on tourists. No need to purchase an entirely new wardrobe, but depending on your destination you may want to leave the Hawaiian shirt and beach shorts at home.

DO remember your humility and gratitude. Locals will be pleased to help you in a pinch if you smile and show your appreciation!

Agree? Disagree? Have other tips you’d like to share with us? Please submit your comments.

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