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Four Practical Tips to Prepare for International Travel

Do these four things to know you're well prepared for your next international travel experience - no matter what happens!

Mar 23, 2017, 12:30 PM
IMG has compensated the author for providing this article.

My husband Chris and I are fortunate to have been able to travel to over 35 countries. We’ve hiked into remote areas of the Indonesian rain forest in search of wild orangutans, camped in the Australian outback, overlanded across 10 African countries, and backpacked through South America from Peru to Argentina – all with few travel mishaps. 

Still, after nearly a decade spent traveling internationally, we’ve realized that anything can go wrong, and it’s best to be prepared beforehand. Learn from our experiences and follow these four practical tips when preparing for your next international trip!

How to Prepare for International Travel: Four Practical Tips

Research the Country You’re Visiting

As you’re deciding where in the world you want to go, do some basic research on the countries you’re considering. Pro tip: Be sure to also consult others who have traveled to those locations before crossing anything off your list.

I have found that reading reviews about a destination online provides helpful information, but can also be intimidating. For instance, before our first trip to Africa, I read about the potential health hazards of malaria, typhoid, dengue fever and more, and there was a moment when I thought, “Am I sure I want to go?”

Even as a seasoned traveler, I was intimidated. But I did my research, got some vaccinations, hopped on a plane and had one of the best experiences of my life, traveling through 10 countries in Southern Africa.

It’s important not to let the fear of “what if” something goes wrong stop you from experiencing “what could” be the trip of a lifetime. 

Invest in Travel Medical Insurance

As I mentioned, anything can happen while you’re away from home, so it’s important to be prepared. 

For example, while in Thailand, Chris was bit by a stray dog and had to go through a series of rabies shots. In Fiji, I got a terrible ear infection when Chris and I were snorkeling, and while living in Australia, I cut my hand with a chainsaw, requiring a trip to the emergency room and five stitches.

In these situations and others, we were so thankful we had prepared for the unexpected by purchasing a travel medical insurance plan from IMG

This type of insurance provides short-term coverage for medical expenses, emergency evacuations and more when you’re traveling internationally. It fills the coverage gap left by your domestic medical insurance, which often does not provide adequate — if any — international coverage.

Write (and Translate) Your Health Conditions

If you have any allergies or medical conditions, it’s a good idea to have these written down, along with the names of any prescriptions you’re taking. 

In my experience, it also helps to translate this information into the local language by using a free program, such as Google Translate. Print this document and keep it with your insurance card, in case an emergency arises. 

Hopefully you will never have to use this document, but knowing it’s there can ease your worries. 

Make Sure Your Important Information Is Accessible 

Email yourself and one or two trusted relatives or friends back home all of your important medical, financial and trip information. I typically include: 

  • Scanned copies of travel medical insurance cards
  • Name of bank and phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards
  • Credit card statement (in case I ever need to show proof of funds)
  • Scanned color copies of my passport
  • Driver’s license and other relevant ID cards, such as scuba diving card
  • Primary doctor’s name, email and phone number
  • Medical vaccination certificates 
  • Translated health conditions document
  • Plane tickets and itinerary

Additionally, I always pack copies of the above documents sealed in a Ziploc bag to protect from sweat, rain and wear and tear of travel. 

Having spare physical and electronic copies of your important documents ensures that they’re easily accessible no matter where you are or what happens while you’re away from home. 

Following these tips will help you feel more empowered as you embark on your trip, and less overwhelmed by the what ifs. Arm yourself with balanced knowledge, a good travel medical insurance plan and a positive outlook, and you will be well on your way to an awesome trip. 

For over a decade, Tiffany Soukup has traveled to more than 35 countries with her husband Chris, hiking into remote jungles, looking for endangered wildlife and seeking adventures.

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