Well, you've decided it's time to take that trip you've always dreamed about; the big trip out of the country to see the international sights. It's a little daunting and scary to plan, but if you take into consideration all aspects of your future trip including the expected and some of the unexpected, you'll be better prepared to handle any problems. This will also give you some peace of mind before you depart, which helps with the long plane ride and subsequent jet lag. Homework This doesn't mean you have to read up on the history and look at all the pictures of every museum before you go, it means getting to know the local laws and customs of the areas. What is the dress code? Are shorts frowned upon? How do they expect women to behave? The more you know about the country, government, and people, the better you're able to understand and respect the customs. Also, it's important to learn how thieves target tourists and what you can do to protect yourself and your valuables. Learning about the country also includes learning about the climate and geography. Will you have to walk more than you normally do, and is the terrain rocky or will there be lots of steps? Regarding the climate - it may be very hot or the altitude elevated and of concern. If you know this ahead of time, you can plan to take things slower, keep well-hydrated, and have the appropriate clothing. Medical Get thoroughly checked out by your doctor before you go, and refill all your prescription medication so you won't run out on your trip. Explain any concerns you have about the climate in the country you'll be visiting as your physician may be able to offer you some help with possible seasickness or altitude-related issues. This is the time to get any necessary immunizations as well. Find out if your current medical coverage applies if you're out of the country. If not, or if only partially, check into getting supplemental insurance. If you have health issues, determine the level of health care in the country you want to visit. If you're disabled, you'll want to check accessibility standards to make sure you can get around. Consider getting a medical ID bracelet, if you don't already have one. Packing Packing as light as possible is key, especially if you're going to be changing locations frequently. If you've never traveled abroad, now is the time to talk to your friends who have and get their packing tips. Your travel agent could be of help with this too. Your clothing choices can mean the difference between having a good time and standing out as a target for pickpockets. Paperwork It's a good idea to register your travel plans with the State Department and you can easily do this through their website. That way, if there's a crisis, at home or abroad, the State Department will know how to reach you. Your information is privileged and can't be accessed by others without your authority. Go through all your paperwork to make sure you've signed everything you need to sign, such as your passport, and you have all that's required, such as any visas. Leave copies of your passport data page, visas, itinerary, and even your credit card numbers with your family at home as backup. Have your travel itinerary all on one page, on your person, so you can easily access the information. It should have all addresses, phone numbers, and dates of the places you'll be staying, and it's a good idea to add some of the important phone numbers of people back home as well. Leave a copy with family members as well. This advice should help you prepare for your trip abroad and if you're prepared, you won't worry as much. This ultimately means you'll have more fun on your much anticipated trip.
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