If you are traveling abroad, or maybe you just need a refresher here’s a list of some important tips you should do or bring before your trip.
Security & Health
- Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier.Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage,consider supplemental insurance.
- Bring copies of your passport.If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship. Also print your itineraries along with flight tickets/ confirmations.
- Leave a copy of your passport.For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
- Register with your embassy.If there’s a problem in the country, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety. Check in with friends and family from time to time, especially when traveling alone. It's a good idea for someone to always know where your next movements are, just in case.
- Look up the monetaryconversionbefore you go. Know the exchange rate of your destination countries ahead of time. Finding out that 1 Pound is equal to just USD 1.33 … bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.
- Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting.European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.
- Call your bank or credit card provider.Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Asia when you’re from Europe, and they will turn off your card as a security measure.
- Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting.The conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact.
- Always have local cash.Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses.
- Check the country’s entrance/exit fees.Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.
- Track Your Spending. If you have a laptop, use a spreadsheet and set up some simple formulas to automatically add up your purchases. Or simply write it all down in your journal. Be vigilant.
- Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see.By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.
- Get guidebooks.Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases, and give you enough detail on certain sites that you won’t need to purchase the pamphlet at the venue. And download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.
- Research events going on while you’re there.This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing what it’s known for.
- be flexible. Situations can change very fast and you don't want to miss out on things if you have a rigid plan.
- Weather Information.Before travelling always check about weather forecast & trends about the Country/ City travelling.
- Bring a charger adapter.Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it.
- Check the voltage of your electronics.From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightened because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.
- Activate your phone’s global capabilities.There’s usually a charge for doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.
- Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag.Don’t be one of those travelers decked out in an apparel store, because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear.
- To check a bag or not to check bag.Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees.
- Bring snacks (e.g. nuts, fruit) handy.Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. There's nothing worse than settling on something because you're too hungry and annoyed. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
- Learn food words in the local language. You'll be eating three times a day in whatever country you're in.
- Eat street food. In many places, this is how the locals eat on a regular basis. It's a great opportunity to get an inside peak into the culture.
- Don't keep all your cards and cash together. Use multiple pockets so if your cash gets ripped off, your ATM card doesn't have go with it.
- Carry a "dummy" wallet with some expired credit and bank cards. Hand that over if you get robbed.
- Keep your eyes peeled. Stay aware of your surroundings. If you get the feeling that something isn't right, pay attention to it. That feeling is real.
- Don't get drunk. This is when you're at your most vulnerable and can make poor decisions.
Connecting with locals
- Learn some of the local language. It will not only give you confidence, but will give you a ready-made excuse to talk to anyone (to ask for help or practice).
- Avoid getting trapped in expat bubbles. Tap their knowledge but don't use them as a comfort blanket.
- Keep a "promise book" with you (can just be the back of your travel journal). Use this to help keep the promises you make to the people you meet on the road (e.g. sending the photo you took of them). Be good to your word.
Taking photos without being obnoxious
- Smile. This is key; it will make you seem approachable and non-threatening.
- Make an effort to communicate even if you don't speak a common language besides "hello", "thanks", and "goodbye". Hand gestures work as good as verbal conversations.
- Observe their work and, if possible, momentarily partake in their work with them to let them know it's not insignificant -- whether helping a porter take down the tent, or lending a hand to a baker. This also builds a quick transient level of trust.
- Respect and sensitivity should always trump the perfect shot. Let people pray or meditate in peace. Stop following that monk or little kid around. Let people pull you into their lives when they are ready.
- Make eye contact with the people you are photographing, even if you are taking pictures of their merchandise. Make eye contact with parents when taking photos of children.
- Show your photos to your subjects. Make good on your promise if you tell them you will send them copies.
- Know well in advance the visa requirements for all your destinations. Some can take weeks to obtain.
- Have solid and prepared answers when crossing borders, especially between the U.S., UK, and Canada. Never say your purpose for entering a country is "work" if you are a journalist on a press trip. You can avoid the 20 questions game this way and also ensure they don't try to charge you extra for a different visa.
- Always check that your passport is stamped with a correct date before leaving the immigration center. If there's a mistake, you can get in trouble (not the immigration officer).