By Kathryn Lively
Perhaps you have dreamed for years of a vacation in Europe, or maybe in your current job you find you must travel often to exotic locales for your business. The prospect of seeing a different land, experiencing cultures, languages and people different from the United States is exciting, yet there are as many risks involved in traveling abroad as there are traveling your own country.
This is not to stay that danger lurks behind every corner, waiting to grab an unsuspecting tourist or visitor. Since a vacation is meant to be a fun and exciting time, so it's important to heed a few pre-cautions while you're abroad. Here are suggestions to make your trip go much easier. Don't forget to take lots of pictures, too!
Know the laws and customs of each country you visit. As a traveler in a foreign country, you are subject to each country's laws regardless of being an American citizen. Take note not to turn left when you should turn right, and remember that just because something is illegal in the States doesn't mean it's legal elsewhere. Should you run into and legal difficulties, contact the nearest US Embassy.
- Always leave a detailed itinerary with a family member or friend at home in case of emergency. If you know in advance where you are staying, make sure somebody has your hotel and transit information.
- Leave a copy of your passport information with a trusted friend or relative at home in the event your passport is lost or stolen while overseas.
- Always keep an eye on your belongings when in public. Do not leave bags unattended, and do not accept packages from strangers.
- Look inconspicuous when traveling. Do not flaunt jewelry, credit cards, or anything that might catch the eye of a mugger. Of course, it is never a good idea to carry only cash when traveling. Have travelers checks handy, and do not keep all of your money in one place - leave some in a well-hidden spot in your room (and make sure your room is locked) when you go out.
- Exchange money only at authorized locations, i.e. banks and hotels. When you travel to some countries, you may find the local vendors will gladly accept American currency rather than their own. American currency tends to have a higher value, and more than likely the natives will hang onto to it and exchange it when their own currency's value peaks. Therefore, you may want to consider keeping a small amount of American cash when you visit local markets. If you are not familiar with exchange rates and try to bargain with foreign currency, you may find you have paid too much for certain items.
- Have your hotel arrange transportation for you where needed. While it is rather commonplace to hail a cab in a large US city like Atlanta, you might find there are risks in certain countries, particularly if the taxis are not licensed. Use only the companies and drivers your hotel concierge recommends.
Lastly, visit the US State Department's Travel site for information on obtaining passports and visas, and updated travel warnings. When armed with knowledge on your intended destination beforehand, you are certain to enjoy a wonderful trip wherever you go.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Gainesville bed and breakfast inns and European hotel reservations.