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How to Plan an International Trip

posted by my-blogmedia | Saturday, June 14, 2008 | ,

Hi my-blogmedia readers.

Here are several tips when we would like to take an international trip or vacation. What kind of preparation should we take care off?.Check this out as suggested by Isenberg for msn.

When it comes to seeing the world, the travel is the easy part—especially if you've considered entry requirements, health and safety before you take off. For most of us, foreign travel is a luxury that requires both time and money. Maybe you're a young beatnik taking your first backpacking expedition across Europe. Or you've arranged a honeymoon cruise around the Caribbean. Or you've just retired, and you're going to spend a month or two sitting beneath a beach umbrella in Thailand.
But once you've carved out a few weeks from your busy schedule and purchased bargain tickets, what's the next step? How do you plan the practical details of your trip? Whether this is your first journey overseas or your 10th, we offer some common-sense advice, from staying healthy to staying in touch. Read on, and bon voyage!
Passport
Anyone who's applied for a passport this year can appreciate how frustrating the process has become. A backlog of requests has made headlines and given many would-be travelers headaches; an estimated 3 million applications are currently being processed, with 18 million expected by the end of 2007. Once your passport is issued, it remains valid for a full 10 years (five if you're under 18). For many countries, such as France and the Czech Republic, a passport is all most tourists need to cross the border. Other nations have more restrictions, and may require you to have a special entrance permit called a visa. For example, to enter India, U.S. citizens must have a passport that's valid for six months past their date of departure, as well as a visa. At customs in Turkey, you can expect that an official will photograph you while your passport is stamped (you'll also need a visa, which you can buy on the spot for $20). And if your destination is particularly adventurous, the requirements may be even more stringent: Algeria requires a visa to be typed (until recently, they could be handwritten). And to enter Turkmenistan, you must possess a visa that you can get only by having a letter of invitation from a Turkmeni citizen or organization.

The other travel bugs
Some people are used to being medicated: Asthmatics tote inhalers, diabetics carry shots, and people with mood disorders pack antidepressants. If you're in perfect health, it's easy to feel indestructible. But that's a dangerous attitude in tropical rain forests or unsanitary cities, where illnesses like hepatitis B and typhoid fever are serious and common.

Even the healthiest metabolism can crumble after exposure to tainted water or undercooked food. A bad case of "Montezuma's Revenge" can ruin an otherwise perfect trip, or even linger long after you've returned home. Unless you're traveling to Western Europe, you should see your doctor about preventive prescriptions, such as mefloquine for malaria and Dramamine for motion sickness. Your doctor may also warn against ailments such as altitude sickness (which starts at about 6,000 feet above sea level) and pinkeye (the bane of youth hostels and cheap hotels), as well as insects such as bedbugs, lice and deer ticks. Ensuring insurance Savvy backpackers know the benefits of traveler's insurance, and carrying a short-term policy is common among Europeans.

Almost every booking Web site offers insurance, which typically costs between $30 and $60 and covers nearly any emergency situation. If you're booking your overseas tickets online, sites such as Expedia or Priceline will ask if you want to pay the premium on an insurance policy (just be sure that you don't confuse this with reservation protection, which specifically insures your airline reservation in the event your flight is canceled). Whether or not you accept traveler's insurance, keep in mind that accidents and hospital visits do happen. Ask your health insurer whether you're covered overseas. And note that even though many countries use socialized medicine, which greatly reduces the costs of hospital visits, this may not guarantee that you'll get prompt attention. Socialized health care is usually cheaper for individual patients (at least by American standards), but medical service is almost never free.
Money walks
No matter where you go, travel is expensive, and without proper capital, your vacation faces all-out disaster. In most countries, you can get cash out of an ATM, and the amounts will roughly match the current exchange rate. For example, if the euro is worth $1.80 U.S. and you withdraw 10 euros, your bank will withdraw $18 from your checking account (plus an inevitable service charge). In most places, you can also use debit and credit cards without a hitch. However, before you swipe the plastic, be sure to call your bank. Most banks and credit card companies have safeguards against international thieves.
If your statement starts recording purchases in Bhutan and your bank has not been notified of your travel plans, your card could be canceled, putting you in a difficult situation. As a backup, you might also consider having some of your money in traveler's checks. These can be routinely cashed at kiosks and banks around the world for a modest fee. And traveler's checks are insured in case you lose them; just be sure to keep the receipt. But don't forget to bring along some U.S. dollars as well. A little emergency cash is always handy, and can even be life-saving.

The riptide of current events
The odds are slim that your trip will ever be affected by terrorism, but keep in mind that international travel can be risky. Countries like Spain and Turkey were considered safe and politically neutral until bombs were detonated in their major cities. Even a touristy town like London has a long history of explosions and civilian casualties (most recently the subway attacks of 2005). Meanwhile, recent visitors to Thailand were surprised by the "bloodless coup" of 2006, when the old prime minister was ousted by the military.
Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans are less innocent about the possibility of terrorism, but it's best to stay aware of the potential dangers of your destination. The State Department's Web site has the most comprehensive information on foreign lands. You can find dossiers on nearly every country on earth, plus sensible travel advice written by the nation's finest experts on travel and foreign affairs.

Phone home
Unless you have a fancy phone that's enabled for international travel, your best alternative is an Internet service like Skype. Remember that direct-dialed international calls are typically very expensive, and that calling directly from your hotel can create astronomical bills when it comes time to check out. In most places, you can also use a calling card, available for purchase at many corner stores, that offers discounted per-minute rates.
Although there's something romantic about receiving a picture postcard (which generally takes weeks to reach a U.S. post office from abroad), most foreign travelers stay in touch by e-mail. Internet cafes are common in busy international cities; for a small hourly charge, you can access your Web-based e-mail account (such as Hotmail or Gmail) or surf the 'Net. If you're comfortable taking a laptop on the road, a wireless card can be a traveler's best friend; more and more airports and cafes offer Wi-Fi.

How's the weather?
Suppose you've booked a cheap getaway to Bangladesh. The tickets were a steal, and the hotel room was practically free—you can't believe your luck. And then you realize it's monsoon season. Plan on being drenched in a humid downpour for the next two weeks.
Weather can be a major concern for international travelers, not just because of hurricanes and blizzards, but because of subtler meteorology, like unseasonable temperatures that can make your trip uncomfortable if you haven't packed appropriately. Some favorite destinations have famously unpredictable weather (a saying in Italy is "Marzo รจ pazzarello," or "March is crazy," referring to such patterns). And keep in mind that weather in the Southern Hemisphere is the opposite of American weather (in Australia, Christmas is celebrated in summer).
A great number of vacations have been ruined by unexpected droughts, flooded rivers and volcanic activity. You can't anticipate sudden catastrophes like the destructive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. But after monitoring the weather online for a few days, you'll at least have a good idea whether to pack a trusty poncho or a good pair of sunglasses.

(source: msn.travel)

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