Whether studying abroad or just traveling for fun, hints on how best to travel are always useful. The following are tips on general safety, passports and identification and researching destinations.
- As hard as it may be, do not look like a tourist. Do not consult maps or guides on the street. Rather, look at these aides ahead of time or look at them in a less public setting than a public street or marketplace.
- Do not attract attention to yourself. Avoid wearing clothes or jewelry that blatantly differ from the cultural norms of the area. Also, avoid pulling large amounts of cash out of your pocket. Both behaviors can possibly attract pickpockets or other criminals.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Stay abreast of the people around you as well as the general feeling of the area. If you feel uncomfortable in any surrounding, leave.
- Carry a business card with your hotel's name and address on it in the native language of that country. This card is useful when you are lost, need a taxi ride to the hotel, and do not speak the native language well.
- Do not travel by yourself. Always travel in groups of two or more. The old saying "safety in numbers" is very true.
- Be familiar with local laws and customs. While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. A little research on the laws and customs of a country easily keeps you out of trouble.
- Vaccinate yourself. Up-to-date vaccinations ensure a healthy trip. Also check out the Centers for Disease Controls' Traveler's Health Web site to see if any certain vaccinations are recommended for specific countries you are visiting.
- Never leave luggage unattended. It could easily be stolen or tampered with by others.
- Check that your credit card will work overseas. Article: U.S. credit cards becoming outdated, less usable abroad
Passport and Identification
- Leave a copy of your passport, other forms of identification, and your credits cards with someone at home. Also carry one or two copies with you during your travel. If lost or stolen, these copies are invaluable when trying to replace your passport or cancel credit cards.
- Carry your passport only when necessary. Keep it in a secure place, like a hotel safe, and carry a copy with you.
- If your passport is lost or stolen, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.
- Leave any unnecessary identification at home.
Researching the Country
- Start with Department of States' Background Notes. These background notes tell you general information about each country. Additionally, the site also contains travel warnings. These notices alert citizens about unsafe regions or countries experiencing political, social or military unrest.
- Purchase a reputable travel book on the country. Travel books generally present a brief history of the country, as well as cultural norms and interesting attractions.
- Talk to people who have previously visited the country. They often give the most candid and descriptive insights to culture and norms.