Overseas travel - tips and insurance information

Travel during these troubled economic times might come with its unique challenges. For some travel to visit close family is a must despite the economic situation. A new born baby, a sick family member, an special family occasion, these are events which cannot be missed, come what may. However, even when travel is not mandatory, the current economic scenario presents many good opportunities to travel.

Airlines are slashing their fares, hotels have also reduced their rates, and package tours and cruises are significantly cheaper now. Ironically, this might be a very good time to travel overseas, see new places and visit friends and family in different parts of the world.

Here are some tips to make your travel memorable for all the correct reasons. Although it is not possible to anticipate every contingency, the following steps will ensure a happy holiday.

1. Become familiar with the local language and cultural mores:

As you start your overseas journey, it helps to read about and understand as much as possible about the destination. While it is hard to overnight learn a new language, it definitely helps to learn a few important phrases. The local people will appreciate your efforts in trying to speak their language. Also, it do try to learn about the history of the region, the local customs and traditions, your travel experience will be richer as you will better appreciate the place and the people.

2. Choosing and staying in hotels:

Be prudent while selecting the hotel to stay. While it is exciting to go off the beaten track, unless you are comfortable with the security of the place, stay in hotels with many tourists and in safer areas of any city. Upscale hotels usually have better security. Staying on lower level floors is safer in the event of fires. Use the main entrance if returning to your hotel late at night. Be observant before entering parking lots. Do not open your room door without verifying the identity of the person. Do not invite strangers to your room and keep your room door locked at all times. Make yourself familiar with the location of fire escapes, stairways, exits and alarms. Inform the authorities immediately on seeing any suspicious activity or object.

3. Local travel issues:

Try to get a mobile phone which works in your destination. It helps when you arrive in a new destination to organize your travel from the airport prior to arrival. Do not use vehicles without proper licensing or one which does not pick you up from the designated area. If you are renting a car, get maps in advance and have written directions to your destination. If you need to stop for directions, go to brightly lit public areas. Keep the contact numbers of your destination and any contact people with you. Be familiar with the local driving rules. Ensure that the car is locked while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you do not know.

4. General behavior:

Maintain a low profile, do not be flashy or extravagant in your clothing. Unless absolutely necessary, try to travel without expensive jewelery. Try not to display large amounts of cash or travelers checks in public. Do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive travel documents in open display even within your hotel room. Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary in public. Blend in with the local people as best you can. Avoid any public disturbances and civil demonstrations as they can turn violent.

5. Valuables/Credit cards:

Keep your valuables and important documents (passports, currency, travelers checks, tickets...) in a hotel safe. Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but away from the actual passport. Whenever you use your credit card, be vigilant till you get it back. Check you card when returned, always verify that it is your credit card before putting it away. If you are unfamiliar with the local language or surrounding area, carry a card with your hotels name and address.

6. Photocopy important documents:

The passport is your most important travel document when you are outside your home country. Make several copies of your passport, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets and other travel documents. Leave one copy with a relative or friend and carry one copy with you. If you lose your passport, report the loss to the local embassy or consulate and the local police authorities.

Be sure to carry your credit card company's telephone number in case your card is lost or stolen. Always report any loss immediately.

7. Travel Insurance:

Last but certainly not the least, ensure that you have a stress free holiday and minimize possible but unplanned medical expenses by purchasing good visitor travel insurance. Your domestic insurance will usually not pay outside the. Visitor Medical Insurance is advisable since medical costs outside our familiar environment can be expensive. There are several choices for visitor medical insurance, be sure to understand the coverage details. American visitor insurance has developed a comparison tool which allows you to compare several plans based on premium rates and benefit details. (Ajay)

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