If you are planning to travel abroad, there are certain rules and regulations that you should be aware of when visiting any country. Many tourists are detained because they have unintentionally broken the law. Always be aware of and obey the laws of the country you plan to visit. When you travel outside of the USA, the constitution does not follow you. You are subject to that country’s local laws. Being prepared and knowledgeable of the places you plan to visit is your best defense.
The following tips should make your traveling safe and enjoyable:
- If you encounter difficulties with authorities overseas, the U.S. consular official may provide you very little assistance. Both foreign and U.S. laws limit what American officials can do. The U.S. Government has no funds for your legal fees or other related expenses.
- Should you become destitute abroad, the U.S. consul will help you get in touch with your family, friends, bank, or employer and will tell you how to arrange for them to send funds to you. In some cases, these funds can be wired to you through the Department of State.
- Deal only with authorized outlets when you exchange money or buy airline tickets or traveler’s checks. Shop around for the best exchange rate.
- Notify the local police at once and apply for a replacement passport at the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate immediately if your passport, credit cards, or traveler’s checks are stolen or lost. If credit cards or traveler’s checks are lost, contact the issuing companies promptly.
- If you are planning to take any prescription drugs on your trip, check with your physician, or the embassies of the country you are visiting to ensure you do not violate foreign laws. Many tourists have been innocently arrested for having drugs not considered narcotics in the USA, but are illegal in other countries. You can ask your doctor for a certificate stating to your need for a drug to make customs processing smoother. However, this may not be enough authorization to carry drugs into some foreign countries.
- Be sure to take along an ample supply of medication, and keep it in a carry-on bag if you have allergies or other medical conditions. Do not make the common mistake of packing all your medications in your suitcase, which can be lost or stolen.
- Before you go, you may obtain a list of English-speaking doctors for the areas you plan to visit. Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers for such a list as well as other pertinent information at http://www.iamat.org
- Always leave medicines in their original labeled containers. Ask you pharmacist for the generic name of any prescribed drug in case you need to refill the prescription. Brand names differ in other countries.
- If you are allergic to certain medications, insect or snake bites, wear a medical alert bracelet and carry a similar warning in your wallet.
- Bring an extra pair along with your lens prescription and ample supplies of lens solution and cleaner if you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- A U.S. consular officer can help you find a physician if you become injured or seriously ill abroad. He or she can arrange the transfer of funds from your family or friends in the United States to pay for your treatment.
- Carry a summary of your medical records. Be sure to include past illnesses and blood type.
- Many countries have established entry regulations for HIV/AIDS, particularly for students and other long-term residents. Check with the embassy or consulate of the individual country to see if this applies to you. For the most current information about the Zika virus, please visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.
- Once you have reached your destination, if you have problems or concerns, visit the American Embassy to register. Let them know where you are staying, the areas you plan to visit and when you will be returning to the United States.
- If you are planning to bring valuables on your trip such as a watch, jewelry, camera, check with U.S. Customs regarding registration requirements and proper proof of ownership. Always obtain a receipt before buying any foreign item, especially antiques.
- Keep all receipts for items that you buy overseas. They will be helpful in making your U.S. customs declarations when you return.
- If you plan to drive an automobile while in a foreign country, check with the AAA Club at http://www.ny.aaa.com to see if you will need an international driver’s license and to find out where you can purchase supplemental insurance coverage, as needed. Inquire about local requirements at the embassy or consulate of the countries in which you plan to drive. If possible, obtain road maps of these countries in advance. Some countries do not recognize a U.S. driver’s license. However, most countries accept an international driver’s license. Obtain one before you depart at a local office of an automobile association. You must be at least 18 years old and will need two passport size (2×2 inches) photographs and your valid U.S. license. Certain countries, such as Switzerland, require road permits in lieu of tolls for using their divided highway. Fines may be levied on drivers who have no permit.
- There have been occasions when companies selling seats on charter flights have gone out of business in the middle of the season, stranding passengers abroad. Therefore, if you plan to travel on a charter flight, consider purchasing trip insurance. If you are unsure of the reputation of the charter company or tour operator, consult the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer affairs office.
- If the country you plan to visit requires a tourist card, you can obtain one from the country’s embassy or consulate, from an airline serving the country or at the port of entry. For some tourist cards, a fee is required. Check entry requirements while you are planning your trip.
- Bring along a pocket calculator to help convert currencies.
- Carry personal items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth and soap with you. If you are separated from your luggage and have to spend a night in a hotel, due to a delay in take off, those items will be with you.
- You must file a report with the U.S. Customs Service if you are taking more than $10,000.00 out of the United States in coins, currency or traveler’s checks.
- Take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming ill while you are abroad. Get a medical and dental check-up before your trip and make sure you are up-to-date with the following immunizations: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diphtheria, Polio, Tetanus and Whopping Cough.
- When traveling abroad, remember you are a guest in someone else’s country. The Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism has devised 11 points that one might keep in mind when assuming the role of a visitor to another country. For a list of these aims, go to http://mangroveactionproject.org/ecot/
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