8 Tips For Traveling Abroad

1. Pack light- Nothing is worse then having to lug your stuff all over the country. I’ve seen people traveling with a giant back pack on their back, a smaller one in front, a fanny pack, and dragging a suit case. Trust me. You DO NOT need to bring that much on your trip. I use to pack heavy and realized that I didn’t use half the stuff or could have easily bought it anywhere. Ask yourself, Do I really need this?

2.Make sure you documents are in order- Your documents will be your life line.

a) Make sure your passport is not about to expire- Obvious isn’t it? Still you’d be surprised by the number of people who forget to do this. One time my friend and I were going to travel to China and what do you know? His passport had already expired. When did we find out about this? AT THE AIRPORT! Needless to say I wasn’t a happy camper.

Some countries check if your passport is about to expire in 30-60 days. Make sure you do not fall in this category. If you do,make sure to apply for a passport as soon as possible prior to your departure.

b) Look into the visa for your country – Different places require different visas. Sometimes a visa can take months to get. You don’t want your travel plans interrupted because of this. Call the local embassy for more information.

c) Scan and email to yourself all important documents – It’s smart to make copies of your passport, insurance, dipolma, drivers license, etc. It’s even smarter to scan them and then e-mail them to yourself. So even if you lose everything, as long as you can access the internet,you’ll have access to all your relevant documents.

Now you may ask why you should scan your college diploma? Well, you never know if you’ll fall in love with a country and want to live there for an extended period of time. Having a copy of your diploma saves you the hassle of having to get someone email it to you. This goes double for any and all documents that you may need on your travels.

3. Research where you are going- If you plan to do a lot of traveling, research the areas you will be traveling to. Make sure to have a good bit of information on where you are going. If they speak a different language and customs, try to learn as much about them prior to

departure.

Recently, a friend traveled to Venezuela without doing his research. Turns out the current president, Hugo Chavez had changed the official currency exchange rate, meaning that my friend got ripped off every time he drew money out of an ATM. If he had done his research, he would have known to take US dollars with him and to exchange it in the black market.

a) Making calls – Can you take the cell phone you already have and just buy a SIM card? Or do you have to buy a new phone? You may consider getting a phone that works in many countries then make calls using Wifi.

b) Electric outlets – Make sure you have the right plug for electrical outlets. Also, look into the voltages. I blew up a $200 electric tooth brush because I’m a moron. Turns out that Korea uses 220 volts instead of 110.

c) Do you need a return ticket? – some countries will not allow you to enter without a return ticket.Make sure to have a return ticket. Google is your friend for finding out this information.

d) Also, Lonely Planet travel guides will help you. I’m the type who likes to go to a new destination with no real plan and just play it by ear. Regardless, travel guides will save you a lot of headaches by telling you where to stay and what to do.

4. Budget your trip- Budget your expenses and how much you will be spending on your trip. It is good to do a budget so you don’t over extend yourself. Be careful when traveling with others. Getting into arguments about money leads to everyone being pissed. Be sure to discuss how you will share the expenses. Keep track of the money split and write it down.

5. Speak the language- Even a couple of phrases will help. Some places you’ll find an abundant amount of English speakers, usually the younger people around universities. Other times, you’ll be completely screwed.

6. Renew all your cards- If you plan to travel for an extended period of time, then try to renew all your credit cards, licenses, etc. Most credit card companies won’t deliver your card internationally. So you’ll have to get a friend to mail your new credit card to your new address (if you’re there long enough) . That means you’ll be dealing with other countries mail service. And believe me, this can be a real pain.

7. Travel Insurance- This one is going to be a personal choice. I’ve heard nightmare stories about travelers getting into accidents and having no way to pay for it. Personally, I’ve never traveled with insurance and have had no problems…so far…Make your own decision. There are lots of plans to choose from. Use Google and figure out what plan is best for you.

8. Be safe- It pays to be secure. Invest in money belts, mini locks, travelers checks, and exomesh.

a) Money belts – When I first arrived in Colombia, one of the locals told me not to take out my wallet. Smart idea. Another smart idea is to buy a money belt, then put your important documents and the majority of your money into it. If someone robs you at gun point then you can just hand them whatever is in your pockets. Hopefully they won’t tell you to get buck nekkid.

b) Mini locks – Use these to lock your zippers shut. If you’re traveling on a budget then chances are you’ll be sharing rooms with other travelers. Most travelers you meet will be cool. Others you’ll want to kick in the junk. And then there’s the SOBs who will take your stuff. The mini lock is the first line of defense against this. This way you’ll know no one rooted through your bags.

c) Exomesh – Your back pack ain’t going nowhere with the exomesh deployed. Exomesh is basically a wire net that you wrap around your luggage and secure it to something that does move. If someone wants to steel my back pack then they gotta saw through the radiator first.

Pacsafe is a company that sells exomesh and secure travel gear in general.

d) Travelers checks – Travelers check can be your emergency back up if you should happen to lose all your money and credit cards. If you’re staying in one place for some time, then keep your travelers checks stashed there. The beauty about travelers checks is even if you lose them, you can call up the bank that issued them and get them replaced.

Traveling in the Tropics – Safe Travel Tips

When you leave familiar shores behind and travel in the tropics, the first thing that strikes you is the extreme contrast in almost everything. People, climate, sights, sounds, streets, and even the sky and the moon look different. Next stop, Mars? First timers can take considerable time to unbefuddle their senses. And then it becomes a race to take in as much of the new experiences as possible in the comparatively short time at hand. In this mad rush make sure you don’t fall victim to a range of hazards that may easily be avoided with a little bit of common sense and some precautions.

First and foremost, travel in the tropics means you’re basking under the glorious warmth of a stronger sun than you’re used to. As you revel in that gorgeous tan you’re developing, it is worth remembering to take precautions against sun burn and dehydration. Carry your sun block and drinking water around wherever you go, and not just when you’re at the beach. Dress in cool cottons to keep the humidity at bay, and wear a hat and sunglasses.

While swimming in the sea, watch out for jelly fish stings and other similar hazards that can put a damper on your holiday cheer. If you discover a seemingly idyllic and deserted beach where the sea appears calm, think twice, thrice or more before you dive in. Some areas have strong undercurrents that just might send you on your last vacation in the sky. Always get enough information from local authorities about the best and safest places to bathe before deciding to strike out on your own, whether it’s for a swim or a hike.

Eating out is an exciting adventure when travelling in the tropics. Strange cuisines ranging from fragrant to the grotesque tempt and dare your palate into trying things you normally would beat away with a stick. Well, you’re on holiday and it’s only natural to want to try anything once. This could result in anything from irritable bowel syndrome to Delhi belly. Well, now would be a good time to remind you to carry toilet tissue with you if you intend to be away from your hotel for a long time. Most toilets, especially in rural areas, do not stock tissue and you can save yourself tonnes of embarrassment if you have some with you!

You don’t have to have something exotic to upset your stomach; even a mundane salad or iced drink can make you double over from bacteria in contaminated water. Avoid salads and ice unless you’re sure of the source. Wash all fresh fruits thoroughly or better yet, eat only what you can peel. Make sure you carry medication for holiday tummy or food poisoning recommended by your doctor at home. Drinking from the tap is not an option in most countries. It’s safer to carry your trusty brand of bottled water with you from your hotel if you intend to be out all day.

Mosquito repellents and bug sprays are a must when travelling in the tropics. Consult your doctor about the need for malaria vaccinations before you set out. While in the tropics try and stay indoors during late evenings when the mosquitoes swarm around. Shut doors and windows or use screens if they are available. You’ll be better off in the hilly areas where you get to enjoy all the benefits of tropical countries without the hassle of blood sucking insects.

Before travelling to the tropics, discuss with your travel agent and your doctor, the need for certain immunizations such as yellow fever, depending on the area you’re travelling to and general ones such as tetanus shots. Some countries require mandatory shots, while others don’t seem to stress the need for any. Consult your doctor about the need for rabies shots if you intend to travel to remote areas or be in contact with animals. It would be in your interests, especially if travelling with kids, to check what applies to you.

Carry your own stock of first aid supplies including pain killers, band aids, disinfectants and even sterile disposable needles in case you need an injection are a good idea if you intend visiting remote areas. Make sure you get up to date information about seasonal viruses that are about at your tropical destination. Get authentic information about occasional health hazards such as bird flu, dengue fever, or other epidemics that may be making the rounds.

Read up on the place you intend to visit. Having an idea of what to expect, local customs, and food habits will smooth your transition and help you relax into your vacation more quickly. Getting to know the local people and gaining an understanding of their way of life and culture enriches your vacation in many ways, giving you a far deeper perspective of the place you are visiting. But don’t abandon your native caution entirely as you relax, as touts or scammers can be rampant around tourist spots anywhere in the world. Watch out for pick pockets and petty crime. Never pull out a wad of notes in public. Always keep small change in separate pockets for easy access.

Travel broadens the mind they say. But if it’s to the tropics it does things to your soul as well. It’s an energising experience that brings people back again and again, to the extent that some go native and decide to stay on. Make sure that your experience of the tropics is a dream rather than a nightmare by following these basic and common sense safe travel tips.

Photography Tips While Traveling

Whether you’re embarking on a family vacation or your family reunion, it’s going to be a special time. When we think of trips we’ve taken, we tend to remember them best with photographs. Here’s some ideas to enhance your vacation as well as your memories of them.

Location Preparation

1) Since you know where you’re going (that’s a minimum requirement), doesn’t it make sense to check out the location before you get there? Create a list of attractions, accommodations, special points of interest, amusement areas, shopping, etc. A good source to help you do this is: the Places and Travel section of msn.com ( [http://groups.msn.com/Browse?CatId=179])

2) Figure out the photo opportunities for each appropriate venue. Anyone can take a “that’s nice” picture of the kids at an amusement park. Wouldn’t you rather capture a “WOW” photo that could be hung over the mantle?

3) Depending on the location you’re traveling to, you can see what books are written about them that highlight the best photo opportunities for the entire area

4) If you’re cyber-savvy, start at http://www.google.com and search using different combinations of: your destination, best photography locations, for images of the location, scenic spots, etc. The options are endless.

5) If you’re off to a non-big city area, scout out the national parks in the area. The great thing about national parks is that the scenery is usually so breathtaking, that a so-so shot looks

outstanding, just because of the subject. Once in http://www.nps.gov, do a search on photos and you will be presented with terrific shots of all the parks

Photography Preparation

OK, you’re either traveling through or you’re at a wonderful location full of photo opportunities. You began this leg of your trip at the crack of dawn and as you’re pulling into the most scenic overlook for 400 miles, the sun is just starting to crack the horizon.

You instinctively pull the car over, grab your camera and your tripod, and look for the best spot to set up. Just one tiny little problem… YOU FORGOT YOUR TRIPOD! Rather than smack yourself on the forehead then, why not plan these things now, before you leave?

Your list should include AT LEAST the following consideration…

1) Do I need to repeat – BRING YOUR TRIPOD? It doesn’t take up much room, and as explained at http://www.best-family-photography-tips.com/tripod-photography.html, tripods allow you to capture entirely new categories of photographs that won’t be possible without one

2) Memory. Of course, bring all the memory you have, but also pack your portable storage device (explained at http://www.best-family-photography-tips.com/digital-photography-tutorial.html)

3) If your camera has a hot shoe, bring your external flash, and any additional equipment that can be used to help with bounce flash

4) Remember your external shutter release cable for those long exposures. How else are you going to get that “angel-hair” look of the waterfalls?

5) Don’t forget the basics like: batteries, battery charger, camera bag, and additional lenses and filters (if applicable on your camera)

6) And just in case you need it, bring the manuals for your equipment.

Finally, don’t get so wrapped up in taking perfect shots that you don’t enjoy the trip. Remember to use the tripod so that you’ll be in at least some of the photos.

Article courtesy of Best Family Photography Tips.com, where you can see some sample pictures including more photography tips.

Copyright 2005 Robert Bezman. All rights reserved.

Traveling to Kenya – See Some of Our Planning Tips

It is often said that Kenya is a cold country with a hot sun, as the blend of high altitudes and tropical sun make for a unique and variable climate. This should be kept in mind when packing for a visit. Both temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. Basically the traveller should come prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions.

Packing for a trip to Kenya requires some careful thought and consideration. Ultimately your packing should be dictated by the activities you are planning to undertake.

If you are travelling extensively throughout the country make sure that you bring suitable luggage. Suitcases and bags should be able to withstand plenty of handling and dusty conditions. Hard suitcases are ideal, but can take up a lot of space.

If you are travelling by domestic/chartered flights within Kenya, remember that there are luggage restrictions, particularly on smaller aircraft. Check in advance with your Charter airline or Safari/Tour operator.

For those planning a lot of travel by public transport or trekkers, a backpack is advisable. Bring a sturdy, well constructed pack with orthopaedic support and lockable zips and catches.

A small daypack is ideal for carrying cameras, travel documents and basic everyday items.

Equal consideration should be paid to what you bring with you.

Casual, lightweight, and comfortable clothing is usually the best. For walking safaris or game viewing on foot clothing should be of neutral colour, and white, bright or vividly patterned clothing avoided. Studies have proven that most African game animals are able to see bright blue over any other colour.

Strong footwear is advisable if you are planning to do any walking. For serious climbers and trekkers a good pair of hiking boots should be brought with you.

Remember that the tropical/Equatorial sun is strong and burns quickly. Wide brimmed hats are preferable to baseball caps for sun protection. Both sunglasses and a good quality sunscreen (rated SPF15 or higher) should be used.

A good quality insect repellent is worth bringing.

In some areas, mostly coastal, it is considered inappropriate for women (and in some cases men) to wear shorts or short sleeved shirts. It is always best to seek local advice.

For some up-market lodges and nights out in Nairobi you may wish to bring some more formal evening wear.

You should bring your own Toiletries with you. Basic toiletry items are widely available.

Any personal Prescription drugs should be brought if necessary. Also bring the generic names for these drugs in case they need to be replaced locally. If you have prescription glasses it is wise to bring a spare pair.

For those planning lengthy treks or camping expeditions, a basic medical kit is also a good idea. A small Flashlight/Torch and a Swiss Army knife are good accessories to carry.

If you have a video camera battery charger or an other electrical items, bring your own converter plug set if needed (the electricity supply is 220 Volt, 50 Hz with a square pin 13 amp plug).

A good quality pair of Binoculars are essential for effective game viewing.

Climbers can hire equipment, ropes and gear in Kenya, but may wish to bring their own personal kit and equipment.

Divers will find excellent dive gear for hire in Kenya, but may also wish to bring their own regulators or dive computers. Those with prescription masks should definitely bring them along. Dive Certification Cards and log documents should be brought along.

All travel documentation should be kept together securely. This should include tickets, Passports (with appropriate visa entries), Vaccination Certificates, and Travel Insurance documents.

Additional photocopies of Passport, Air ticket and Traveller’s Cheque numbers should be brought and packed separately. Use our personalized Kenya Travel kit to print records of all this information. Take several copies with you and leave some at home.

Take your credit cards together Traveller’s Cheques and some U.S. Dollars cash. See the Currency section for details.

Come for a visit.