Tips for Travelers
Planning a safe mission trip involves forethought. Consider these health, packing, and communication suggestions, especially before traveling outside the United States.
A policy from Brotherhood Mutual’s mission travel insurance program can help in the event of an emergency, but you may be able to avoid problems altogether with a little planning. Here are some tips to help you preserve your security and peace of mind.
Pre-Trip Planning Documents:
- Make copies of your passport (if traveling outside the U.S.), credit cards, driver's license, vaccination certification, airline tickets and traveler's checks. Leave them with someone you trust who has access to a fax machine. This will help you replace your documents in case they are lost or stolen.
- Photocopy your travel arrangements and leave them with a friend or relative so you can be reached in the event of an emergency.
- If you're planning to drive outside the U.S., get an international driver's license before you leave. It's required for traveling on some of the better quality roads, and many foreign car rental services insist on one.
Health for International Travel:
- Check into which vaccinations are recommended for your travel destination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on the health standards and immunization requirements for various geographic regions.
- World Health Organization provides details of vaccine-related entry requirements for several countries, types of malaria risks, frequent updates on disease risks, and news of disease outbreaks.
- Eat yogurt for two weeks before you leave. This builds up friendly bacteria in your system, which enables you to tolerate more foods and drinks.
- Take a first-aid kit, including bandages, Q-tips, eye drops, earplugs, wet wipes, antibiotic cream, and medications for allergies, colds, and pains.
- Use plastic pill bottles as containers for such small items as cotton balls, safety pins, rings, or earrings.
- Take a travel alarm clock or a stop watch with an alarm for your wake-up calls.
- Bring adapters for electrical appliances.
- Attach a brightly-colored piece of fabric to the handle for quick identification.
- Use your business address, rather than your home address, on the luggage tags.
- Though most luggage comes with locks to help secure zippers and latches, these locks tend to be flimsy and easily broken. Instead, use electrician ties, available at home improvement stores, to secure your luggage. They're very tough, and if they've been cut off, you will know that someone has tampered with your luggage.
Communication in Foreign Countries:
- Be aware of how you gesture while communicating in the country you’re visiting. Gestures may have different meanings in other countries than they do in the U.S. For example, in Bulgaria, nodding your head means “no,” and shaking your head from side to side means “yes.”
- Avoid using slang or jargon that might be misunderstood or mystifying in another country. For example, avoid using phrases such as “he’s a bear,” “to each his own,” or “you’re right on the money.”
- Carry power bars, apples, and other handy foods with you in case your transportation is delayed.
- Carry valuables in concealed inside pockets or in a sturdy bag with the strap across your chest.
Get Customs, a website for international business travelers, offers tips on clothing, courtesy, and customs that can help you avoid confusion or problems on foreign soil.
The U.S. Customs Service offers guidelines on transferring prescription drugs across borders, mailing items to the U.S. from abroad, declarations and exemptions of items purchased abroad, and items barred from the U.S.