Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad

Information Before Destination…

Traveling to an unknown destination ignites our passion and a desire for adventure. It opens the door for us to step outside the “box” and enter a world of possibilities.

But there is also the practical side of traveling: Rules and regulations, getting through airport security, entry/exit requirements for foreign countries, safety and health aspects when traveling abroad, and what your budget dictates.Free stock photo of city, houses, village, buildings

In order to travel from our side of the world to another, we need to know what is required — and the list is long. There is more apprehension about traveling abroad…and even within the U.S. The increased vulnerability to terrorist attacks and security threats equals heightened security measures at airports, hotels, train stations, and other public places. This necessitates forethought when traveling.Free stock photo of bird's eye view, mountains, flying, traveling

Missing a so-called “minor” detail (such as not having enough blank pages in your passport, or not having a visa when required) can cause major problems. You may not be able to board the plane or enter your destination country. You could find yourself abroad with no way of getting cash, because the ATM pin number is not accepted at foreign ATM machines, or you find that your passport is invalid because it will be expiring within six months of your return date.

Many travelers (including myself) have experienced complications that could have been avoided, had they known what to expect. They paid exorbitant fees to get cash or when making purchases abroad, they had no cell phone reception or paid a lot for roaming fees, they became ill or injured while abroad and their medical insurance would not cover them, they had a minor accident in a rental car that ended up costing them thousands of dollars, they paid numerous foreign transaction fees, their “waterfront” hotel was on a duck pond, or they arrived at their “beach” vacation spot to find it was steep jagged rocks or rough surf — and the list goes on.

Many a vacation has been ruined by the unanticipated “potholes” in the roads of travel.Free stock photo of road, landscape, sand, street

Did you know that when traveling by road to Mexico, if you do not declare personal items at the “Merchandise to Declare” lane at the first checkpoint (items such as cell phones, CD’s, cameras, computers, etc.), that these items could be seized (as well as your vehicle) for attempted smuggling? Are you aware of the dangers of rip currents (and how to spot them) that pose a danger to swimmers on many oceans and large lake beaches worldwide? Would you know how to swim out of a rip current if you get caught in one?

Did you know there are alternate lodging options that could make your travel more affordable?

The articles on Know Before You Go:  Traveling the U.S. and Abroad, will step you through the different phases of travel guidelines.  It will include planning and packing for your trip and provide you with resources on how to stay healthy and safe, avoid jet lag, and much more. You’ll be informed on how to avoid scams (such as criminals that use children to distract tourists) and how to protect yourself from typical crimes (pickpocketing, computer or cell phone hacking, and more).

You’ll get answers to questions that have left many a traveler confused. You’ll stay informed about the ever-changing requirements at airport security and customs, and you’ll be made aware of hidden or less commonly known facts.  Advanced planning will reward you financially and emotionally in the end.

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If you are traveling with children and/or your beloved pets, there is detailed information on how to ensure they have a safe adventure.

Stumbling upon the unexpected should become a treasured memory — not the culprit that ruins your trip.

Stepping outside the good ol’ U.S.A. means leaving behind any preconceived ideas that all countries are the same, and that they offer the same conveniences that you are accustomed to. Each country has its own set of laws, customs, language, currency, electrical and cell phone requirements, and more.

Accessibility for the disabled differs from what you can expect in the U.S. Having an accurate picture of the country you are traveling to will produce real expectations. This will help alleviate disappointment. You’ll be ready to adapt to new customs and overcome the challenges that come when visiting a foreign country.Free stock photo of flying, traveling, travelling, high

While at an international corporation (and as a traveler myself), it was my responsibility to stay within the budget and ensure the safety and health of our employees. I let experience and research be my guide. I wrote corporate travel manuals, researched countries and their entry/exit requirements, established travel and medical insurance plans, and provided assistance to employees facing hardships abroad. We had corporate travelers who experienced medical emergencies, injuries, car accidents, were victims of crime, and even an unlawful arrest.

Stuff happens — know what to do if it happens while traveling.

As part of the research for this site, I stationed myself at security in one of the largest airports in the U.S. I saw firsthand the kind of problems travelers were facing. There was a lot of apprehension and frustration by rookie travelers who were not prepared. Free stock photo of sea, landscape, houses, water

Let’s plan on having the “unexpected” be that moment when you reach your destination and think…Wow, this is way more than I expected!

Some of the areas that will be covered in future posts include:

  • Determining your destination, alternative lodging options, and budgeting your expenses
  • Cruise options, road or train travel, and purchasing airline tickets
  • Travel/Medical insurance – Do you need it?
  • Passports, Visas, and Trusted Traveler Programs – application requirements and where to apply for them
  • Packing, airport security, and going through customs
  • Traveling with health or disability issues and safety abroad
  • Communication, cell phones, and internet abroad – How to stay connected and avoid hefty charges
  • Acceptable methods of payment and using ATM’s abroad – How to avoid foreign transactions and unnecessary fees
  • Dos and don’ts when renting a vehicle
  • Traveling with children and pets (keeping them safe, healthy, and entertained)
  • Being prepared in case of an emergency or unexpected event when abroad

I look forward to sharing more travel news with you!

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