While scouting out the best restaurants, sights and fun activities are a must before any trip, don’t forget to look into the following important — albeit unpleasant — things as well.
Random incidents in a destination shouldn’t deter you from traveling there. Crime happens everywhere, there’s no avoiding it. However, researching crime in the countries and cities you plan to visit could reveal trends and dangers you’ll want to avoid.
For example, pickpocketing is a problem in many large European cities. While that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel there, it does mean you should take precautions so you aren’t a target for pickpocketers. On the other end of the spectrum, if your research reveals rampant violent crime or terrorism in the place you want to visit, you should reconsider traveling there.
In general, make note of neighborhoods to avoid, potential scams targeting tourists and any other crime-related problems in the areas you plan to visit. It’s also a good idea to have the embassy contact information on hand in case of emergencies while traveling abroad.
If you are traveling abroad, do a quick search on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find out if there are vaccines required for the countries you will be visiting.
You should also research emergency services in the area such as hospitals, and jot down the 911 equivalent phone numbers. Reach out to your medical insurance provider and ask about your coverage during travel. If you are not covered, consider obtaining travel medical insurance.
Find out if any prescription medications you have are illegal in countries you will be traveling to or through, and be sure to carry a letter from your doctor if needed.
Immersing yourself in a different culture is one of the things we love most about travel, but the last thing you want to do is offend locals or embarrass yourself with a faux pas.
Be sure to research dress codes. Some places forbid clothing that doesn’t cover knees and shoulders, while others are even more strict. Though it usually isn’t illegal for tourists to break clothing rules, it’s disrespectful, and some places may even issue fines.
It’s also important to understand the currency and exchange rate of the country you visit, so you can avoid getting shortchanged. Tipping etiquette is beneficial to know, too. Some areas consider tipping to be rude, for example, while others encourage it.
Learn a handful of phrases in the local language. For example, knowing how to say please, thank you, I don’t understand, where is the bathroom, help me, call the police, etc., are useful to have at the ready.
Invest in a universal plug adapter. This day and age, you don’t want to be surprised to find out you can’t charge your phone or laptop because the plugs aren’t compatible. Many destinations have different electrical outlets than what you may be used to, so it’s beneficial to research it and make sure you have the appropriate adapter when you travel.
Entry and Exit Requirements
With a U.S. passport, you can enter most countries with a visa on arrival. However, some places require a visa in advance, so be sure to research what you need for the destination you’re headed to.
Also note that it is recommended for your passport to be valid for at least six months after your scheduled travel date, and many countries require a certain number of blank pages in your passport for visa stamps in order to enter. If you need to replace your passport, remember to factor in that time before your trip.
Be sure to travel with at least one photocopy of your passport in case the real one gets lost or stolen.
Advisories and Notices
Visit the U.S. Department of State website to find travel advisories across the globe. It’s a great resource for your initial travel planning, and you can also sign up to receive alerts during your trip. Advisories are divided into four levels, with Level 4 being the most dangerous, and detailed information is given about each area’s safety situation.
Also check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website to find health notices around the world. Notices are divided into three levels, with Level 3 being the most severe for cases such as major disease outbreaks or natural disasters that can affect travelers’ health.
As unexciting and tedious as this research can be, you’ll be glad you did it. And then planning the fun stuff will be that much more enjoyable!
Next, find out a super-important thing you should do after your trip that you’ve probably never done.
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