Travel Tips

There is no end of great checklists and packing tips on the Web and elsewhere for those travelling, studying or working abroad. Here are some of the best worth mentioning from seasoned trekkers…

Before You Go…

  • Make Copies:

    Before you go, photocopy anything of value that you may have to replace, such as your passport identification page, tickets, your driving license, credit cards, insurance information and itinerary. Leave copies with family or friends, in case you need access to them.

  • Secret Pouches:

    Stay off the radar of pickpockets or thieves by hiding cash, credit cards or travel documents in a secret pocket, pouch or money belt. Women are wise to travel with handbags that have a long shoulder strap worn across the chest.

  • Electricity:

    Many countries use 220-volt electricity, so your chargers, hairdryer, shaver or laptop may need a "converter" or "transformer" to stay working.

  • Valuables:

    Think carefully about taking anything along that you will desperately regret losing or will cause headaches to replace, including expensive jewellery and unnecessary credit cards.

  • Pack Wisely:

    The rookie mistake many make when travelling, studying or working abroad is pack too much clothing and other stuff they never use. Also, consider the local cultural or religious norms, and whether your clothes are acceptable, especially when visiting holy places. In most cases, avoid baring shoulders, arms or legs. You may even have to cover your head and face in some countries.

  • Label Your Stuff:

    Luggage should contain your name, address and telephone numbers inside and some form of unique identification on the outside.

  • Phoning Home:

    Find out if your cell phone works in the country you are visiting and whether it is worth it to take your own or buy one there. An international calling card can also be easier and less expensive.

  • Driving:

    If you want to drive abroad, make sure you have an International Driving Permit before you go. These permits, available from local automobile associations once you show your domestic driver’s license, are honored in over 150 countries. Also, make sure you have vehicle insurance that covers you when driving outside your home jurisdiction. In most cases, your domestic auto insurance does not cover you outside the country.

When You Get There…

  • Accommodation Safety:

    Keep your residence door locked and meet your visitors in the lobby so there is no confusion about knocks on the door. Use a hotel safe, if available, and avoid leaving valuables in your room while you are out. Do not get on elevators alone if there is a suspicious person inside.

  • Possessions:

    Someone asks you to carry a package for them, keep a box in your room or accept a gift. Whatever you take possession of, remember it could get you into trouble abroad. Drugs, weapons and other illegal items will be considered yours if local authorities find them in your possession. Saying they are not yours or you didn’t know it was against the law is no excuse.

  • Stay Out of Trouble:

    Do your best to obey the local laws. An arrest while abroad can be very expensive and dangerous. Many lands have stiff penalties for crimes that you might consider minor at home and their legal system may consider you guilty until proven innocent. Also, be careful about wandering into restricted zones or taking photos of military or security facilities, such as police or military stations and government buildings. In some countries, photos of structures involving national security may be forbidden. If in doubt, ask permission.

  • Safety Advice for Women:

    Always stay close to friends or a known group when exploring or walking about. Maintain clear boundaries with others and do not be afraid to be assertive in telling someone they are making you uncomfortable or uneasy. Even if you do not know the language, be physically expressive in warding off any unwanted attention. In certain countries, be careful about wearing casual or revealing clothing that may be considered offensive in the local culture.

Safety Advice for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgendered Individuals:

In approximately 70 countries, homosexuality is considered criminal and illegal behaviour. Research carefully the laws and social norms of the lands where you will be studying or working.