traveling abroad can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience,
you need to plan for issues that don't arise in domestic travel.
Here are some tips to make your overseas travel more
Once your itinerary is set, make as many
advance reservations as possible. Make sure someone knows
where you are at all times.
Ask your ASTA travel agent about State
Department information on the countries you will visit. The
agent's computer reservations system should list travel
advisories. For details, call the U.S. State Department at
202.647.5225 or view travel warnings on the State
Carry the address and telephone number
of the U.S. embassy or consulate for each country. In case of
difficulties, contact U.S. authorities promptly. If you plan to
stay in a foreign country for an extended period, register and
leave your itinerary with the embassy or
When traveling abroad, avoid being
alone. Being by yourself makes you an easier target for
pickpockets and muggers.
Carry your bags and other personal
items securely. If you carry a shoulder bag, keep it closed at
all times, clutched between the arm and body. Do not carry a
wallet in your hip pocket or inside jacket pocket. Empty the
wallet of all unnecessary items and carry it in your front pants
If you find yourself near a civil
disturbance or other dangerous situation, move away quietly and
inconspicuously. Do not run. If this is not possible,
take cover behind the nearest shelter and stay there until danger
Depending on the country you plan to visit, you
will probably need a passport, and perhaps a visa
or tourist card.
To obtain a passport application, contact the
nearest Passport Agency, one of the many federal or state courts, or
a U.S. Post Office that accepts passport applications. Visas are
available from the embassy or consulate of the country you will be
visiting or from a "visa service" which will get your visa processed
for a nominal fee.
In both cases, apply for your travel documents
several months in advance of your scheduled departure to avoid peak
Remember, your passport is your most valuable
travel document when you are in a foreign country. Keep a copy of
your passport number in a safe, separate place and immediately
report the loss or theft of your passport or visa to the U.S.
embassy or consulate and the local police authorities.
Make several copies of your passport, traveler's
checks, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets and other travel
documents. Leave one copy with a relative or friend back home and
carry one copy with you.
Take most of your money in traveler's checks and
record the serial numbers, denominations and date and location of
the issuing agency. Remove all unnecessary credit cards from your
wallet. Be sure to carry your credit card company's telephone number
in case your card is lost or stolen. Always report losses
Certain countries may require an "International
Certificate of Vaccinations" against cholera, yellow fever and other
infectious diseases before you are allowed to enter. Specific
information on entry requirements can be obtained from your ASTA
travel agent, physician or the embassy of the country you will be
As an added precaution, make sure that your
measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria and tetanus shots are up
to date. You can also check with the Citizens Emergency Center at
the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (202.647.5225), or
the Centers for
Disease Control at 404.639.3311 for up-to-date information on
epidemics or unsafe conditions in your planned destination.
U.S. residents must declare
the total value of all articles acquired abroad which are in their
or their family's possession at the time of arrival. The amount of
duty will be determined by a Customs officer. U.S. residents are
normally entitled to an exemption of $400, though this varies
depending on the country you visited.
Both residents and non-residents will normally be
required to pay a flat 10% rate of duty on the first $1,000 above
their exemptions. More information is
available from U.S. Customs.
When you are preparing for your trip home, try to
pack all your new purchases in one bag and keep all your receipts in
one place. This information will come in handy when you go through
Make several photocopies of
your passport, visa, itinerary, airline ticket and other travel
documents. Leave one copy at home with a relative or friend and take
another copy with you.
If you are planning to stay in a foreign country
for an extended length of time, it is wise to register with the U.S.
embassy or consulate in that country.
Try not to take more luggage
than you can reasonably carry by yourself. Porters and luggage carts
are not always available and less luggage means easier Customs
inspections and a shorter wait at the baggage claim.
Also, airlines have regulations on size, weight
and number of bags you can check or carry on board. Pay close
attention to these restrictions on overseas flights because excess
baggage can be very costly. Check with the airlines or your ASTA
travel agent for information on individual carrier's luggage
- Choose luggage that is lightweight and
flexible, yet durable enough to withstand rough treatment. Make
sure all your luggage is in good condition: airlines can refuse to
accept fragile or damaged bags.
- Pack firmly. Clothes that move around usually
come out wrinkled. Anticipate that you will do some shopping at
your destination and include a folding tote bag to accommodate the
overflow of your new purchases.
- Luggage identification is important. Make sure
that your bags have the correct information both inside and
outside and that the luggage tag is securely fastened. Remove old
claim tags that might confuse the baggage handlers.
- Attach a brightly colored ribbon or sticker to
your luggage to help distinguish your bags from similar ones in
the baggage claim area.
After crossing several time zones, many travelers
suffer from "jet lag." Although there is no way to completely avoid
jet lag, there are a number of ways to help your body adjust to a
new time zone.
- Try to go to bed a little earlier a few days
before you leave and get as much sleep as you can during your
- Many side-effects of jet lag are the result of
dehydration, so avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated
beverages and drink plenty of water during your flight.
- Eat lightly on your flight and forego rich or
exotic foods on the first few days of your trip so that you can
use your energy to adjust to your new surroundings rather than to
digest your food.
- Exercising on a long flight will help alleviate
such common discomforts as backaches, swollen legs and feet and
general fatigue. Stretch at regular intervals and walk up and down
the aisles of the plane from time to time to prevent dangerous
blood clots from forming.
- Finally, take it easy on the day you arrive so
that you can take advantage of your trip at a leisurely pace and
establish a routine in sync with the local