I was recently visiting with a client who’s heading for a European dream vacation in a couple of weeks. It got me thinking about how to make certain the dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Here are my top 10 tips for a great trip overseas:
Leave your itinerary and copies of your passport with a trusted friend or family member. Be sure this is someone you can easily reach in case of an emergency. Likewise, make sure a neighbor knows how to reach you in case something arises at home that needs your attention.
Double check your passport. Make sure that you have signed your passport and that it has not expired. Complete the emergency information section of your passport. Keep a copy of your passport with you. If it were lost or stolen while on your trip this will help expedite getting a replacement.
Check your overseas medical coverage. Call your insurance company and ask if you’re covered while overseas. Does coverage include emergency medical evacuation? If not, consider supplemental coverage such as offered through www.medjetassist.com.
Carry multiple credit cards. Often, you’ll get the best currency exchange rate by using your credit card. You’ll find some establishments will accept one credit card but not another. Be sure to visit your bank before you leave to make sure your bank debit card is overseas ATM ready. Since ATMs access your checking account, make sure you have plenty of cash in your account or have an arrangement to have funds transferred at your request.
Let Big Brother help. Keep this number handy: 202 501-4444. It’s the number for the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and is your best first stop in case of an emergency. There’s also the Smart Traveler’s Enrollment Program where you can privately post your itinerary on line (https://travelregistration.state.gov ) which allows the State Department to contact you if there is a family emergency at home or crisis where you are traveling. They’ll also provide you with real-time travel advisories.
Carry extra prescription medicines with you. If you’re on prescription medications, keep an extra supply on your person in case you get stranded or get separated from your luggage.
Leave the jewels at home. When traveling in a foreign country, it’s hard to not look like a tourist. Don’t add to your risk by wearing expensive jewelry or carrying lots of cash. I have a friend who was attacked in broad daylight in London because he wore a Rolex watch. Fortunately, all he lost was his watch!
Check your cell phone plan. Most cell services offer a short-term international plan that will significantly reduce your cell charges when you use your phone abroad. My wife and I signed up for a plan on a recent trip to Italy but the cell company didn’t ‘turn it on’. Within a few days our bill was over $700! We fixed it, but it was a hassle.
Familiarize yourself with the local laws and conditions. While in a foreign country, you’re subject to their laws which can be quite different from ours. Did you know that in some countries it’s illegal to chew gum? Visit http://travel.state.gov for country specific information.
Takes lots of photos and have FUN! Bon Voyage!