If you have compiled a wish list of places that you would like to travel, chances are that a handful of them are international destinations. However, before you hop onto a plane and jet set to another country, you need to have some safety travel tips in your arsenal. Prior to traveling to a country outside of the United States, travelers must fully prepare themselves to run across new customs and cultures, but also new laws, diseases, and various threats that can exist outside of America’s borders. However, by following these tips for international travel, anyone can feel safe, informed, and ready to explore new places:
- Make sure that you have a valid passport. Although this may seem like a no brainer, many people are unaware that even though you have your passport you cannot travel unless it is valid for six months after the date you start your journey! So check your passports expiration date well before your travel date in order to ensure that it will not expire within six months of your journey.
- Know where United States embassies are within your country of travel . Being able to pinpoint where a U.S. Embassy is can prove extremely important if you ever find yourself in need of help while abroad. Embassies can help you find a lost passport or replace a passport and are also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Knowing how to contact or where to find an embassy can literally be a lifesaver!
- Get all required vaccinations before leaving the country. Luckily in the United States citizens are not at risk of being exposed to too many diseases. However, if you plan to travel internationally, you will have to protect yourself from getting sick by making sure to get vaccinated for all possible diseases that your travel destination could expose you to. If you are unsure which vaccinations you will need, visit this site to look up requirements by country.
- Understand that laws in foreign countries differ from laws within the U.S. Knowing the laws of countries that you plan to visit can save you a lot of grief, just ask former Marine Jon Hammer. Hammer was unaware that Mexican customs operated differently than the United States and thus found himself in a Mexican prison for five months. If he had checked Mexican law prior to presenting his antique shotgun to the Mexican border agents, he could have avoided the disastrous situation altogether.
- If you do have a run in with the law, contact the U.S. Embassy immediately! Being locked up abroad is not a place you want to find yourself during your vacation. However, if you do find yourself wrongly accused of a crime, like Jason Puracal did while living in Nicaragua, working with the U.S. Embassy is vitally important. The embassy will monitor prison officials in different countries to ensure treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards of human rights and make sure that Americans are afforded due process under local laws.
- Plan out where you are going to stay before leaving the U.S. If at all possible stay in larger hotels because they have more security. However, if you find yourself on a smaller budget or want to go backpacking, research the hostels where you plan to stay. By checking an accredited website like hostels.com, travelers can view accommodations before booking space thus ensuring the location’s safety.
- Always search for the best travel deals. Traveling can be expensive, however, if you are vigilant about looking for cheap flights and hotels, you will eventually find them. Select flights on Wednesdays, which is the cheapest day of the week to fly, and book your trip at 3pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, which yields the least expensive flights. Also don’t forget to be flexible in your traveling. If you are open to flying smaller, less expensive airlines on an odd day of the week chances are you will find a better deal!
- Decide if you need travel insurance. Not all travelers invest in travel insurance, but things sometimes do go wrong while on vacation: delayed flights, lost luggage, or even injury. Travel insurance covers medical expenses and financial losses that could potentially arise while traveling and can be purchased for any length of time. There are a variety of travel insurance policies so be sure to consider your options and look into which plan fits your needs best. Review your options before leaving on vacation.
Traveling abroad is something that everyone should do in their lifetime; however, being knowledgeable is essential before anyone heads out on their next adventure. So don’t be afraid to pull out a map and pick a destination, just be sure to do your homework before getting on the plane!
Visit HealthMap.org for up-to-date alerts on reported outbreaks per global community.
If your airline ever loses your luggage, be sure to contact our friends at AirportLostandFound.com for potential recovery. In the meantime, enjoy the following travel tips on lost luggage.