Tips For Travel Abroad
Essential tips for new and seasoned travelers, with focus on travelling abroad. How to safeguard your person and your belongings, and what to expect.
Every experienced traveler has lived through it: the long lines, the lost luggage, the missed flights, the crowded terminals, the disappearing reservations. Here are a few useful hints for new and seasoned travelers alike, to make your travelling abroad as smooth and worry-free as possible.
If you are flying, consider requesting an electronic ticket. If you've always flown with ticket in-hand, it might be an odd adjustment at first. However, electronic tickets eliminate the problem of forgetting your tickets at home, or losing them before the flight. All you need is the proof of payment (an itinerary with invoice number, the credit card you used to buy the ticket, etc.) and identification, and the airline will present you with a boarding pass at check-in. For international flights, present your itinerary to customs officials with your passport, they will accept this in lieu of a return ticket.
Pack valuables--such as jewelry and cameras--in your carry on. You will want to keep these under your supervision at all times. Also, should the carrier lose your luggage, you will still have the most expensive items on your person. For this same reason, include essentials such as a toothbrush, a change of underwear, and any medication you may need in your carry on as well. This will ensure that you are not left stranded without the very basics!
It most likely will not be feasible for you to learn enough of a foreign language to hold your own indefinitely, unless you study tirelessly or have a special knack for languages. However, it is a good idea to at least make some effort to learn the basic phrases in the native language of the country to which you're travelling. You may find that the citizens of said country really appreciate the fact that you at least make some effort to speak their language. Do buy an English-to-Foreign-Language dictionary, there are many that are geared towards travelers, and include valuable quick-reference pages for many common situations. If you are really bent upon learning more of the language, try listening to an instructional tape at night before you sleep. Repetitive listening will help you memorize what you need to know.
Confirm all reservations at least a week ahead of time. It's important that you leave yourself enough time to make alternate arrangements or straighten out any errors, should a reservation be lost or incorrect. Write down or print out all pertinent information for your reservations, including any phone numbers you may need if you run into a problem, such as customer service numbers. Contact information--especially addresses--for hotels, rental car agencies, train stations, airlines and such, when stored in a central place, will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Be sure to check your passport for validity several months before your trip. If your passport has expired or is lost, file for a renewal at least 2 months in advance. If you wait any longer, you run the risk of having to pay expensive rush fees. The average passport, without rush status, will take 4-6 weeks to turn around. Rushed passports typically take 7-14 days, but cost about $100 more to process.
Carry a blank journal or notebook with you. If you are so inclined, it can be a wonderful memoir of your trip. At the very least, it's a place to write down any important information you will need during and after your trip. In particular, it is handy to jot down the names of persons and the situations involving any problems that may arise, so that you may make proper complaints after your trip ends.
Most importantly, have fun! You will most likely enjoy your travels without the occurrence of any major problems. However, anything can happen, and it's always a good idea to make sure you are prepared for the eventualities you can control along the way!