From communicating in a foreign language to finding your way around in a new city, exploring abroad is full of daily challenges. Minimize any travel-related stress by controlling what you can by keeping your finances and health in order while abroad. Avoid trouble by doing your homework ahead of time so you can be prepared to navigate any speed bumps on your trip so that they don’t prevent you from thoroughly enjoying your journey.
Travel Alerts and Warnings
These are easy to find by country through the U.S. Department of State. They cover everything from extreme weather alerts to country-specific travel precautions. Be sure to check for any alerts or warnings in your destination country on a weekly basis in the months preceding your departure.
If you are a victim of a crime overseas, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Officers of the consulate are available for emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Here are a few ways to prevent becoming a target of theft overseas:
- Travel light. If you’re fumbling with luggage, you become a target.
- Contact your bank and credit card company to let them know your travel dates.
- Carry as little cash possible and keep it hidden and out-of-reach by pickpockets.
- Keep your cash hidden when paying tabs too, because thieves watch for where you put it.
- Pack a photocopy of your passport, or keep a digital photo on your phone in case it’s lost or stollen.
- Increase your protection with an outside identity theft monitoring system like LifeLock.
- Don’t let credit cards out of sight to prevent them from being photographed.
- Consider carrying travelers checks.
- Pre-pay for your hotel online.
Search vaccination requirements for your destination several months in advance. Your destination may require vaccinations or a series of vaccinations. It’s important to research the requirements far ahead of time to avoid getting quarantined at the border and incurring fines or medical bills. Requirements vary by country and are subject to change without warning. Search the required vaccines and health advisories by country on the Center for Disease Control website.
If you will be traveling abroad with prescription medications, be sure to take the following precautions:
- Pack enough for your entire trip, plus a few extra days in case your travel plans are delayed.
- Ask your physician for the generic name of your medication in case you need to purchase additional medication abroad.
- Request a personal letter from your physician in the event that you are questioned about your medication. Many countries have strict laws regarding bringing prescription and even some non-prescription medication across borders.
- Always bring prescriptions in the original containers sealed in a plastic bag for extra protection. Store them in your carry-on luggage instead of your checked luggage in case your bags are lost or delayed.
Check with your insurance provider to find out what expenses are covered overseas as your location greatly determines your coverage. You can also purchase short-term travel insurance for extra protection.
In Case of Emergency
The U.S. Department of State recommends contacting the U.S. embassy in the event of a medical emergency abroad. They can assist you in finding a reputable physician and notifying family back home of the situation.
Make arrangements for pets, bill paying, lawn mowing, and mail pickup. Use light timers to give your home a lived-in look while you’re gone, and arrange for friends or family to look after things by giving them a key and emergency contact info.
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This is travel season, and Yvonne and I are going to Europe for the first time, so we’ll follow this checklist for extended travel too. We’re taking a tour because we don’t know our way around or what to prioritize, but we’ll also have free time to just explore. All of the hotels we’re staying in have Wi-Fi, so we can stay in touch with FaceTime video calls, Skype voice calls, email, and Facebook, which we’ll use to share photos. If you too are traveling this summer, Bon Voyage. And if you’re an experienced traveler with more tips, please add them below. Thanks.