ManAboutWorld correspondent and frequent traveler Jeff Guaracino offers his top 5 tips for traveling abroad.
As summer 2015 draws to a close and your travel thoughts turn to fall and winter getaways, it is good idea to review these tips for traveling abroad.
Here are 5 tips to make your trip safe and fun whether you’re going to nearby Caribbean, Canada and Mexico or to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa or South America. Factors you should consider when planning a trip outside the country depend on the language spoken in the country you are visiting, the currency, the political situation and the accessibility to health care or an American Embassy.
- Register for Global Entry and TSA Precheck. There is no need to wait in long lines at the airport or at the border when returning home. (Unless you are a criminal). U.S. Customs and Border Protection offers a fast, easy and hassle free way to enter the U.S. Basically, this is a program for trusted, frequent travelers. The online application is simple and costs just $100. Some credit cards even cover your fee. Visit cbp.gov for guidelines and an online application. The site has very useful information on travel.
- Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance can be very important if you pick the right company and if the company is responsive to individual needs while traveling. A great website is Travelinsurancereview.net. The site includes reviews, guides and articles. The best part of the site is the comments from actual buyers of insurances. The positive and negative reviews will give you an idea of consumer satisfaction. There are other websites you can check out before purchasing and don’t forget to ask your friends on Facebook if anyone had an experience with a particular travel insurance company. I picked Insure and Go for my next trip to Europe. Check your own healthcare plan to see what is covered when traveling abroad and what is not. Hospitals and doctors in foreign countries might want cash upfront and ask you to make a claim when you return home.
- Create an itinerary. Leave a detailed itinerary with someone back home and put it in a safe location with you while your travel. Always use your hotel safe. It should include the date of your trips, where you are staying along with confirmation numbers and any planned activities. Be sure to make a copy or take a picture of your passport, driver’s license and your primary credit card. A recommended app is Trip It. Find out more at tripit.com.
- Call your bank and credit card issuer. Ask your bank if they can order foreign currency in advance of your trip. You might need some cash as soon as you arrive and ATMs are not always readily available or can have high fees at places like airports. In an effort to protect consumers from fraud, let your credit card issuer and bank know that you are traveling abroad and for how long. Ask your credit card company about foreign transaction fees (look for cards that don’t have unnecessary fees). It is best to use one credit card while traveling and be sure to ask about travel insurance benefits the card might offer as part of their service
- If a flight is delayed or your hotel room is robbed or you are hurt while traveling, stay calm. Remember, culturally your behavior could either help or hurt you. Most situations are fixable. If you have any unexpected expenses like your luggage lost or delayed, call your credit card company first and ask about covered benefits. Don’t forget the U.S. embassy can also assist you with a travel emergency including lost or stolen passports. And I find that the Four Seasons hotels are always a great place to find an exceptional concierge who can recommend good local doctors, pharmacies and other essentials. (Let’s hope that don’t ask if you are a paying guest!) You may also wish to review the LGBT travel information offered by the U.S. State Department.
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Jeff Guaracino is the author of Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing he’s also working on a new one to be published in 2016. Check here to “like” it on Facebook and received periodic updates.
Photo: Hernán Piñera