5 Tips for Planning Travel Abroad

When you are traveling abroad you will undoubtedly find yourself dealing with a large number of companies that you are unfamiliar with, and whose policies and procedures are different from what you are used to.

One of your objectives when traveling abroad should be to minimize the opportunities for screw ups that might jeapordize your enjoyment and cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than you were counting on.

Here are some tips for when you are planning your next trip abroad.

1. Whenever possible, deal with people and businesses you know

Buying a cut rate vacation package from a company you have never dealt with before may seem smart at the time. But if you have no experience with the company, you really have no guarantee that everything promised in your travel package will actually come off as expected.

Talk to friends and relatives about travel companies they have dealt with. Look for reviews on the internet. Deal with companies who have been around for a while and are members of professional associations such as the American Society of Travel Agents, the National Tour Association or the United States Tour Operators Association.

2. Start planning well in advance

If you are planning a major vacation abroad start researching at least a year or two in advance. Search the internet for information about your destination. There are many travel sites devoted to providing information about special air flights, hotel rates, local customs, and things to see and do in the country you are planning to visit.

Hook up with one or two companies or travel agents that sound promising. Ask them for information, or ask to be put on their mailing list. Talk with them occasionally and follow their promotions. This will give you an idea of the type of service they provide and the costs involved. It will also help you to learn the vocabulary and give you a better idea of the proper questions to ask.

3. Be wary of telemarketers with travel deals

Telemarketers and vacation resellers are in the business of selling surplus travel and accommodation for other companies. They want to make the sale, and beyond that are not interested in your satisfaction, or whether you actually get the product you bargained for. Be aware that they have no responsibility to you after the sale has been made, and it might be difficult to get exactly what you thought you were getting from the company that is actually providing the service.

Many resellers will use ads in the newspaper or on the internet, or will send unsolicited faxes that offer cut rate vacations. Without some background on the company offering these “deals” you have no way of knowing if they are legitimate. The fact is the “deals” often contain hidden costs or they may require you to attend a sales presentation to qualify for the discount.

Certain practices used by these companies are dead giveaways that there is something fishy about their service. For instance don’t deal with a company that wants to send a courier for your payment or asks you to send money by overnight delivery. Even giving your credit card information to such a company is very risky. So the best policy is not to deal with companies you don’t know or don’t have good reason to trust.

4. Don’t pay until you have verified details of your travel package

One important advantage of dealing with a travel agent or tour operator that you know and trust is that they can make most arrangements without full payment from you. This allows you to withhold a substantial part of your payment until you see the complete details of your trip. If your agent is booking flights, hotels or cruises for you they should be able to provide, in writing, a complete itinerary with names, addresses and telephone numbers so you can verify the bookings. Your agent or tour operator should also provide complete cancellation and refund policies.

If you deal with cut rate tour resellers it may be difficult to get these details, and you will probably be required to pay the full cost in advance. Nine times out of ten they will say “We need full payment to hold your spot and guarantee these low prices.” But once you have given them your payment you have very little leverage. If it turns out that you are not satisfied with some of the arrangements they will simply say “You get what you pay for.”

5. Never give out your credit card information on the phone to strangers

Most people who think paying online is risky are only too happy to give out their credit card information on the telephone to individuals they know nothing about. It is true that there are safety mechanisms built into the credit card system. But it is also true that someone who has your credit card information can do serious damage to you in a very short time. And even if you can eventually straighten out the mess, you will have been seriously inconvenienced in the meantime.

The general rule is that you should not give out credit card information to companies you are not familiar with. This means that if you are buying travel services from someone on the other end of your telephone you should not be prepared to pay by credit card.

Of course that presents a problem, since the alternative would be to send a check or money order, and they may not be prepared to wait a few days to receive it. That is good enough reason to look for a different service provider.

Mind Your Manners When Traveling Abroad Part 1: They Must be Americans

It was a hot day, so when the couple finished a morning stint at the beach, they opted for a little shopping – in their swim wear. Wrapping a see-through, flimsy scarf around her bikini bottom, and he in his flip flops and sloganed t-shirt, they sallied into a sheik little shop on the main thoroughfare. Onlookers gasped and stared. Mothers covered the eyes of their gawking children. Mature men and women snickered or shook their heads. “They must be Americans”, one salesclerk whispered knowingly to another. Unfortunately, she was right.

When traveling, whether for business, pleasure or vacation, it pays to mind your manners. Americans especially are becoming increasingly known for their disrespectful behavior while abroad. Did I say becoming? The image of the “Ugly American” is already far too widespread. The stereotype of the loud talking, wise-cracking, inappropriately dressed, wealth-flaunting American foreigners who flaunt their lifestyle while traveling is unfortunately, all too real in some aspects in far too many cases. With anti-American sentiments growing worldwide, international corporations from Microsoft to McDonald’s and business publications like the Wall Street Journal have addressed the theme time and again. Here is some advice on how to foster a better, more intelligent, educated and respectful image when you travel abroad.

Know the local geography

Planning a trip abroad? First order of business – get a map and study it. Have an idea of how the city and its environs are laid out. Know important sites and landmarks. Many good travel guides provide essential information on getting around. This can be especially important if the local language uses a non-western alphabet writing system. On a recent trip in Colombia my wife and I listened in amusement as a foreigner explained to his family the compass directions – incorrectly. He had the directions of north and south reversed despite having the Pacific Ocean sunset in plain view.

Dress moderately

Not enough can be said about paying attention to local dress code and customs. In many countries it is disrespectful for women to dress casually, showing bare skin or body parts, in public. Bare hairy chests or legs on display, even for men, can be considered offensive in many cultures. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, ask discretely or check informative websites for information on local customs. A useable rule of thumb is no bare legs, torso, back or arms when in public places. Emulate the dress of the locals to be sure you’re being respectful of their cultural norms. Embera Indian women, normally topless in their culture, cover up with a colorful wrap when they visit non-Indian towns and villages along South America’s Pacific Coast so that they are respectful of the social norms of their neighbors. Embera men, with their normal thong loin cloths, wear T-shirts and pants outside their villages for the same reasons.

Watch what and how you speak

Your speech is reflective of who and what you are. It can be a useful tool for the melding of cultures or a battering ram of discontent. Don’t create resentment by continuous babbling about your “affluence”, power, business or social status. People don’t care to hear how “inferior” their way of life may appear to be to you.

In part 2 of this three-part series, we’ll look at what to say and how to say it when traveling abroad in: “Mind Your Manners When Traveling: Religion is Taboo, Politics are Out”.

Things to Keep in Mind While Travelling Abroad

Travelling is undoubtedly the most fun experience in everyone’s life. Nothing beats the joy and fun of packing your bags and gearing up to go to a new place and getting to witness a whole new surrounding. It’s not just about the mesmerizing scenic beauty but getting to see a whole new culture, tasting new dishes and understanding the intriguing customs of the place. Interacting with the local also adds to the charm of seeing and exploring new places. It helps you learn a lot of new things about yourself that you were previously unaware of and helps you push boundaries. Travelling abroad is a vastly different experience as you get to visit a different nation and feel the vibrancy and culture of that place. Going abroad for the first time is something that everyone looks forward too and it is a lot of fun, though there are certain things that one must keep in mind and be careful about while planning a trip abroad:

Learn the basic Do’s and don’t’s of the culture:
Every place has a different culture and way of living and it is important that one gets acquainted with the basic rules and pattern that is followed in a foreign Place. A lot of things deemed acceptable by us may be frowned upon in a different culture. Also, it is important that one pays the necessary respect to the traditions of the place. This would not only help you to avoid a lot of mistakes that can turn your experience sour but also help you form a cordial relationship with the locals. Take interest in their way of life and try learning as much as you can, as it would add to your knowledge and help befriend a lot of interesting people.

Adhere to your own safety and be careful of your belongings:
Whether you are travelling alone or with friends and family, one cannot overlook this important aspect that safety is crucial. One needs to be aware of how safe the place that they are visiting is and this knowledge is far more necessary if you are a woman or travelling with female companions. Watching the news is a good way to know the crime rate of the place and do your own research to know which place is safer and which needs to be avoided. Also be aware of your belongings and make sure they are safe.Keep necessary documents with you at all time to avoid creating unnecessary problems.

Familiarise yourself with the local cuisines:
You wouldn’t want your trip abroad to be spoiled by stomach infections or any other gastric problem which is why it is important to know what the local cuisines are and which are the best places to try out local food. Eating street food may not be the best idea for many and it is also advisable to carry any medication that you may need.

Travel Insurance Options for Traveling Abroad

Travel insurance is just one of things that are necessary when traveling abroad. Travel insurance can be a very practical solution to providing protection for unexpected emergencies while traveling. This type of insurance protects your investment and allows individuals to travel with peace of mind. There are several options available for going abroad depending on the length and type of trip. Travelers can easily compare plans from leading providers, receive quotes and purchase a plan instantly. Travel insurance can insure against unexpected illness, injury, employment loss, luggage loss and more.

It can provide coverage for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption. This insurance provides coverage due to unforeseen illnesses or death. Pre-departure trip cancellation insurance provides protection in the event of the traveler having to cancel flight or hotel reservations due to an immediate member of the family’s death or illness or other covered events. Trip interruption insurance provides benefits if the traveler is unable to continue the covered trip after departure due to covered events. As an option, there are companies that also provide policies that cover cancellation for any reason.

Another option available for travelers insurance is for medical emergencies. This type is beneficial particularly when visiting abroad. Insurance for medical emergencies will provide coverage for doctor visits, medication and even evacuation for medical emergencies. This is particularly important for individuals with chronic conditions or those traveling to underdeveloped countries. Travelers may also have the option of insurance that will provide coverage for tickets that are not refundable and the trip has to be cancelled. Some insurance will even cover missed flights, which can be, a life saver due to delays and overcrowding.

Baggage protection is another type of insurance available. This type of insurance covers direct loss, theft, and damage of your luggage during the covered trip. Travel Accident Protection is another insurance choice that is available. This type of insurance provides coverage for accidental death and dismemberment. This type of insurance provides protection if the traveler is injured in an accident and suffer a loss while covered under this type of plan. A comprehensive travel insurance plan is a great option and a very popular choice for vacationing abroad. This option can provide a wide range of insurance coverage and may even allow travelers to choose what options to incorporate which is why it such a popular choice.

There are several types of companies that offer insurance for travelers. Most travelers prefer to purchase this insurance directly from travel insurance agencies or companies. It is also offered by most companies that offer tours as they generally offer insurance to their clients. Major cruise lines as well offer the option to purchase travel insurance. Cruise line operators usually offer a host of plans to travelers when they schedule a cruise. Travelers can purchase insurance from a travel agent which is very convenient to purchase travel and insurance in one place.

Once you think about the high price of travel and the low price of insurance, this type of insurance is a very reasonable investment. There are plenty of things to worry about when traveling but by protecting your vacation plans with affordable traveling insurance, unforeseen events do not have to be one of them. Since it is not possible to foresee what may happen during travel, a insurance plan is a great value. Travel insurance can slash your losses in numerous situations.

Foreign Travel – More Foods to Be Wary of When Traveling Abroad

Travel to Try New Foods

We said in the previous companion article, “Foods That Can Make You Sick When You Travel Abroad”, that foreign travel and teaching English as a foreign language abroad are some of the most interesting and mind-altering experiences we can have. We travel to meet new people, to experience new cultures, to see bold new sights and to try new foods. We need to be wary of some “exotic” foods though. You want to avoid turning your dream trip into a nightmare. Truly the quantities of bacteria, protozoa, molds, fungi and parasites that can be ingested through food and drink are mind-boggling.

Here Are Three More Foods to Be Wary of When Traveling Abroad

o Raw, Uncooked Foods

Here we go again. Guess what one of the reasons for cooking foods is? Yup, you’re right. One of them is to kill germs, protozoa, bacteria and other unwanted micro-organisms that are in the things we eat for food. Unless you’re sure of the source and treatment of what you’re about to eat, be very wary of seviches, escabiches, sushis, sushimis and other raw, uncooked or partially cooked foods while abroad. And don’t think that just because it’s “pricey” or served in a “good” restaurant or hotel, that it can’t “get you”. One of my worst cases of shellfish poisoning was when I ate from a seafood bar at a well-known Atlantic City Resort.

o Stale Foods and Condiments

How old is the “salsa” that you’re about to pour on your food? Has it been sitting there since it was made yesterday, last week or even, gulp, before…? If condiments are sitting out they are subject to insects, bacteria and molds. The longer they’re “out” the “deadlier” they can become. Bread, rolls, jellies, marmalades and jams, among other condiments are always suspect in my book. This is especially true when abroad where health and food standards may be “compromised”.

o Local “Delicacies”

We’re all tempted to try some local “delicacies” while abroad. Never mind how they tease you, insist on knowing what it is you’re going to be eating. How it’s prepared and how “fresh” it is or how recently it was prepared. I’m also extremely prejudiced against any dish made with blood or with blood products in or on it. In the Holy Bible books of Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 7:26, Jehovah God distinctly says, “And you must not eat any blood in any places where you dwell, whether that of fowl or that of beast”.

Take heed. Be safe.

Watch what you eat and drink while traveling on business or for pleasure or when teaching English as a foreign language abroad.

Foreign Travel – Foods That Can Make You Sick When You Travel Abroad

We Travel to Try New Foods

Travel and teaching English as a foreign language abroad are some of the most interesting and mind-altering experiences we can have. We travel to meet new people, to experience new cultures, to see bold new sights and to try new foods. We need to be careful though, some foods can make you really sick, turning your dream trip into a nightmare. The quantities of bacteria, protozoa, molds, fungi and parasites ingested from food is truly amazing.

Here Are Four Food Areas to Be Wary of When Traveling Abroad

o Water

The old saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” That’s because ole horsey knows that water is most often unsafe for you to drink on foreign soil. Water supplies in many countries are subject to a multitude of factors you don’t want to know. Drink only bottled, treated (by you) or boiled (preferably by you) water when traveling abroad.

o Water-based Juices

Didn’t we just say, “don’t drink the water”? Well, if your lemonade or other juice is made with local water, you don’t know where the water comes from – and maybe you don’t want to know, either. The same holds true of ice and ice cubes. You can’t be sure what the water source was they are made from.

o Fresh Salads

Again, “don’t drink the water” holds true. Yes, even for fresh salads. What do you think they “washed” the vegetables with? If you don’t know or can’t be sure, you’d better not eat that garden salad. I don’t care how “good” it looks. You could be expressing your regrets later the same day quicker than you can ask, “where’s the toilet?”

o Street Vendor Foods

Are you kidding me? You’re not actually going to eat something from the cart of that slovenly-looking guy on the corner, are you? Hey, I know that you’re here to have new experiences and to try new things. But is a tour of all the local toilet facilities and emergency rooms on your list too? If not, then be very careful about what you put in your mouth (in more ways than one, too).

Be Wary of When Traveling Abroad

By all means travel, explore new regions, see new sights and wonders, learn and grow. Just remember to be wary of these seven foods mentioned here when traveling abroad. That way you help yourself to be assured of good health when traveling and eating abroad. In the companion article to this series, “Foods to Be Wary of When Traveling Abroad”, we’ll detail some additional “delicacies” to watch out for. See you then.

Tips to Follow When Travelling Abroad

Everyone loves to travel abroad, be it for pleasure or for business. However, travelling abroad is not as easy as just booking the ticket and packing a bag. To have a hassle free travel, here are certain tips you can follow.

1. Book the ticket well in advance if you know the dates

Most of the travel sites offer very good discounts if you book the tickets in advance. Try to make use of these discounts when you book tickets. So try to plan your trip in advance. Of course, if it is a sudden business trip, you can’t help it.

2. Have your passport handy always

Frequent travellers know how important it is to have the passport safe and handy. Keep it in a safe place and have it renewed at the correct time. Even when you are travelling abroad, keep the passport on your person in your handbag or a wallet. While flying too, have it in your hand luggage.

3. Have sufficient currency of the country you are visiting

It is important that you exchange the Indian rupees to the currency of the country that you are travelling to. Also have international debit cards and traveler’s cheques with you. One might never know when you need extra money while travelling abroad.

4. Be sure to get your visa

Some countries require that you take your visa before you leave your home country while others issue one as soon as you land in their country. Understand the protocol of the country you are travelling to and make provisions to get the visas.

5. Have a phrase book handy

Sometimes you may need to travel to a country where English is not spoken commonly like in, say, China or Germany. In such a case, be sure to have a phrase book to look up the phrases of common words in the local language. You have to be able to manage in the local language when you go to a restaurant to eat or when you want to buy something.

6. Know more about the place beforehand

If you are visiting a place for pleasure, you will have an itinerary to visit the various places there. Even if you are going to a country abroad for business, try to make some time to visit the tourist spots at least and have a taste of the local cuisine.

I am sure that these tips will help you a lot in having a fun filled holiday or a satisfactory business trip. Be sure to mix business with a little pleasure as well.

What to Pack For a Trip When Traveling Abroad

Knowing what to pack for a trip abroad is a very important part of ensuring that you have a safe, enjoyable trip no matter how long you stay or for what reason you are traveling. Be sure to think through what you will actually need throughout your trip and don’t over pack. Of course, be sure to take what you really need. Here are some basic pointers on what to pack when you travel abroad.

1. Pack copies of your important documents.

Make copies of your travel documents and passport and be sure to pack a copy of each important document in each piece of luggage that you take with you. Also, be sure to leave a copy of your important documents at home with someone you trust. You never know what can happen when you travel. You can loose a piece of luggage or be stranded somewhere with only what you carry on your plane. Having these documents handy at all times can mean a higher level of safety as well as more convenience when traveling.

2. Carry a health kit.

Depending on where you travel, a health kit may be the most valuable thing you carry with you other than your passport. It’s best to pack your meds in a carry on piece of luggage that can easily be screened by airport security. If carrying prescription meds, be sure to have a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and also leave a copy at home. You may want to check with the Consulate of the country to which you are traveling to make sure that you can bring the meds into the country as well.

Other than your necessary meds, you can also pack basic first aid products in your health kit. This can be very helpful since some countries do not carry the types of products you may be accustomed to and you may not be able to see a doctor for simple health problems.

There is a lot to consider when packing to travel abroad these days, but don’t forget to pack the most important things first. You can always pick up some clothes or other things that aren’t so important. A well planned trip is usually the best trip, so plan ahead and know what to pack for your trip when traveling abroad.

Medical Tourism – Why Travel Abroad For Medical Procedures?

In the last decade, medical tourism has grown exponentially as thousands travel to other countries for medical procedures. In 2008 alone, statistics show that over 200,000 United States’ citizens traveled abroad for healthcare, especially for elective surgeries and plastic surgeries.

Why are individuals doing this on such a broad scale?

As insurance rates rise and people find it harder to get the treatments they need within the U.S. healthcare program, this segment of tourism is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years.

So, why would a person want or need to go abroad for medical procedures? There are several reasons that come to mind immediately.

Many procedures are less expensive abroad. Less expensive does not imply inferior quality treatment. Costs may be tied to salaries, costs of insurance, or even government subsidies, making medical costs naturally less expensive in these countries.
The quality of healthcare facilities abroad has improved a lot in recent years. Numerous countries have built state-of-the-art medical facilities specifically with medical tourism in mind. Many of their doctors have specialized training in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Going abroad may be the only way to get certain treatments. Some medical providers in other countries utilize treatments that, although medically sound, have not been approved yet for widespread use in the U.S.
You can tie your health care needs to a well deserved vacation. Medical travel facilitators like Patients Without Borders, MedRetreat and Medical Nomad provide complete medical and travel packages for their clients.

What do you need to know before considering expatriate medical treatment?

What countries have a program for the medical need you have? Most countries, although they can do many procedures, specialize in specific ones for the medical tourist.
Are the doctors and hospitals accredited by an international accreditation program such is offered by the Joint Commission International (JCI)? The organization has a multi-step accreditation process with well over 200 facilities outside of the U.S. having already received their accreditation.
Is the doctor or hospital associated with a prestigious American hospital like Johns Hopkins Medicine International? An example of this would be Panama City, Panama’s Punta Pacifica Hospital.
Does your insurance cover any of the treatments? Although most overseas procedures are not covered by U.S insurance, there are a few like Companion Global Healthcare, that work with a network of JCI-accredited hospitals in several different countries. The customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, for example, participate in this program. Remember, Medicare can not be used outside of the U.S. and its territories.
You need to know how long recovery will be for your procedure. You do not want to overstay your visa time limits, and you will need a place to stay during recuperation.

If you do your research carefully before you go, you will most likely find that the medical procedures abroad will be less expensive and will fulfill your medical needs as professionally as any doctor or hospital in the United States.

Lamar Ross is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and has a basic ability in several other languages.

Travel Advice Relating to Youngsters While Traveling Abroad

When the subject of family bonding comes up, the concept of the family vacation has continually been a strong concept. Whether it is represented in taking the family camping, going on a fishing trip or visiting the local mountains to ski, the family trip has traditionally been held in close proximity to home. While the idea of the family vacation is still strong in society, there has been a drastic change with regard to the destinations of these trips.

The need to travel abroad has grown exponentially in adults which desire is usually transferred to their children. When considering your own families long vacation travel it’s important to hunt the travel recommendation of individuals who have expertise related to the present venture in the concept related to travel abroad.

The first plan that comes to mind when the concept related to travel abroad is introduced is if there is air travel associated to the trip. For a private traveling this might be a simple task except for a family there’s a nice deal of issues of safety to consider. Obvious to any parent are problems like proper packing, airport etiquette and child control. In regards to the safety of the plane and their seating choices, this is one topic that’s often overlooked. Seats on a plane are just like the seats in a car, designed for an adult and not child safe and this needs to be kept in mind. Take the travel advice of experienced parent travelers and bring your automotive seat if a kid is less than forty pounds. Doing therefore will help defend your kid throughout travel abroad and assist in identifying a secure place for a young one within the strange atmosphere of a plane.

The idea of air travel is to travel from one location to a different within the shortest time possible. Sometimes this travel could not be in the simplest interests of a family because of the value connected to the present travel. Quite usually travel abroad can be represented in visiting a bordering country. As a method of saving the holiday bucks many families are selecting to cross border utilizing their own kind of transportation.

Road travel may seem simple since several families drive every day but there’s an incredible distinction between vacation driving and daily driving after you incorporate time of travel. The primary little bit of travel advice to recollect is that although you’re packing the vehicle for a protracted trip, a roomy vehicle is the key in preventing child cramping and grumpiness.

Consider the trip experience just of travel a portion of your vacation in association with any vogue of traveling after you travel abroad. The best approach to assembling bonds and maintaining the peace throughout travel is providing entertainment for each adults and children. Distracting individuals from the less exciting portion of their vacation and helping hang around can be accomplished by utilizing activities.