American citizens face all kinds of risks and challenges in foreign countries, due to the differences in language, culture, politics, and economics. To help you travel safely and confidently, we’ve compiled a quick list of things to think about as you plan your trip.
- Stay small.
When it comes to international hotels, bigger isn’t always better. Instead of booking a large and highly visible hotel, consider staying in a smaller, boutique hotel, which may be less conspicuous and offer similar five-star amenities.
- Dress for the culture.
When you’re traveling to a foreign country, it’s best to blend in with the crowd. Keep cultural differences in mind when choosing what clothing or jewelry to wear and bring. This will ensure you avoid drawing attention to yourself, your family and your wealth.
- Leave copies of your documents behind.
Scan important documents, including your passport, driver’s license, visa and travel itinerary, and leave copies of them with a trusted friend or family member prior to departing. If something happens to your documents while you’re traveling, you’ll be able to get copies with a quick phone call.
- Only rent a car if you’re familiar with the terrain.
Navigating a foreign country can be hard enough without having to think about driving rules and regulations. You may face additional risks, as well as costs, if you’re in an accident while traveling. Make sure your auto and liability insurance will cover you overseas if you plan on renting a car.
- Don’t post or geo-tag on social media.
When you or your kids post or geo-tag pictures or comments on social media, you’re letting burglars know that you’ll be away from home, and you’re telling a wide world of thieves and criminals where you are. Instead, wait until you’re back home to share your adventures online.
- Check your destination’s travel notices and local news
Even if you’ve visited a country in the past, it’s wise to check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization to get their latest country-specific travel notices. Some countries will have special requirements or warnings that may have changed since you last visited.
- Find out about any potential health risks
Will you need special vaccinations? Are there specific health risks associated with your destination? For example, a trip to Namibia will put you at a higher risk for malaria and polio than other locations, so you might need to receive a vaccine before you go. Start planning your overseas travel in advance, to make sure you’ll be up-to-date on all of your shots and medications.
- Consider purchasing medical and travel assistance.
According to a recent study, 81% of Americans consider 24-hour emergency travel assistance very important. Familiarize yourself with your destination’s conditions that could impact your health, such as high altitude or pollution, as well as the types of medical facilities available.