CR's 5 Rules of Travel
1. Read as much as you can through travel guides, blogs, speak with friends that have visited the area or travel agents.
2. I love reading the award winning novelists from the country. The novels I loved will be listed in the cultural corner.
3. Finally carry one of your most informative travel guides with you-Fodor's, lonely planet and Rick Steves offer informative travel books with maps, Top 10 sites etc. If I travel to a large city I carry the Fordor's City Pack.
Three concerns that I resolve before I travel is if there is a language barrier, driving concerns or safety concerns in the country.
1. If there is a language barrier I arrange a guide if I'm in an area for a short time. If I am on an extended stay I arrange a travel service that will work out the logistics of what I want to do in that country. They will provides the driver and a guide. For each country on my web site there will be a service listed as long as we were well satisfied with the service.
2. Always carry your travel guide with you in case you are separated.
3. If traveling to an area of unrest, notify the US Bureau of Consular Affairs where you are traveling to and where you are staying in case of an emergency. Reach out to The US Bureau of Consular Affairs to find out more. Also there is a STEP program, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, offered by the US Government.
4. Make copies of your passports and leave one with your emergency contact in the states and take a copy with you and leave it in the safe in your hotel or boat.
5. Put together a detailed day by day itinerary of your flights, hotels and phone numbers, boat contact information and guides' phone numbers and leave this with your emergency contact in the states.
You need to think ahead about your financial security due to pick pockets, bike thieves and just forgetfullness due to jet lag. The bottom line is never have all of your financial resources in one place.
1. Notify all credit card companies where you are going before you leave.
2. Make a list of all cards you are carrying, phone numbers of credit companies and card numbers. Place this in a separate place-neck or waist storage-away from your wallets and purse. When you arrive at your location place this list in the safe in your room. If a purse or wallet is stolen or lost you will be able to efficiently notify these companies and minimize the credit damage.
Also keep your spare cash separate as well. We are using more ATM's currently which minimizes the need for excessive amounts of cash. If you are going to do this check to see if your ATM works with a certain international vendor and check the fees associated with that vendor.
3. We always carry a back up credit card that is left in the safe.
The easiest way to be targeted is to look like a typical American.
1. Best not to wear white tennis shoes, lots of jewelry and baseball caps. We were identified as Americans in Turkey by walking quickly as well. Also pulling out your city map in a questionable area of town would be ill advised!
2. Know where you are going that day and dress accordingly. If visiting a church know that you usually need your head, shoulders and legs covered as a woman.
If hiking, good shoes, poles, hydration, granola bar etc is well advised. Don't forget the sunscreen as well. We have discovered at Neuschwanstein Castle when the Europeans say it is a 25 minute walk it is a 25-40 minute walk. Do not underestimate the physical activity in Europe.
At this point we always know what we need to travel for good health.
1. Check with the CDC awhile before you leave to confirm what vaccinations are needed for the countries you are traveling. Get the vaccines.
2. Know your body and what may be needed. Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Sudafed to minimize congestion on a plane if you catch a cold, Airborne, Sunscreen, Tylenol, bandaids, Polysporin and all prescription medications. As for prescriptions make sure you have enough quantity for the trip. We've discovered that prescription supply companies have a "vacation" exception and will ship more if you will be gone awhile.
I also always have packets of Kleenex tissues. In China, Peru, Argentina and many other countries may not have toilet paper.
I hope this helps! Know that the preparation ahead of time makes for a most enjoyable trip. You undertstand the culture through RESEARCH, you've arranged the appropriate services through SAFETY FIRST, you will be ready for any financial emergency through FINANCIAL SECURITY, you will have the appropriate attire and equipment with FIT IN and finally you will have a well equipped first aid kit with HEALTH.
What to learn under each country?
1. A personal written impression of the country from yours truly.
2. The travel service we used only if it was exceptional.
3. The highlights of each city we visited.
4. The resources that I used to plan our trip.