Planning a safe mission trip involves forethought, especially when traveling outside the United States. By taking steps in advance, you can travel safer and be better prepared for emergency situations.
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.
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.
Mark your luggage for easy and quick identification, especially if your bag is black. Securely attach a brightly-colored piece of fabric to the handle or affix a strip of bright duct tape to the outside.
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. In addition, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes. Instead, use zip ties to secure your luggage. They're available at home improvement stores, and very tough. If a tie has been cut, then you'll know that someone has tampered with your luggage. Since zip ties are small, carry extras with you for the return journey home.
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 in your host country. For example, phrases such as “he’s a bear,” “to each his own,” or “you’re right on the money” may not translate in a meaningful way
Carry power bars, apples, and other handy foods with you in case your transportation is delayed. Check the TSA's website to ensure that your food item is okay to bring onboard.
Carry valuables in concealed inside pockets or in a sturdy bag with the strap across your chest.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection 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.
Talk to your Brotherhood Mutual agent about mission travel insurance products that can help in the event of an medical emergency, security evacuation, lost luggage, and more.
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