The joy of international travel cannot be measured with words. Your visit to a new country can open your eyes to other cultures and potential business opportunities provided you’re prepared to handle emergencies that might come your way.
Most people preparing for international travel usually think of securing a passport, visa, and an airline ticket. A foreign country is far removed from your residence in America and unless you come armed with the right crucial documents and health protection, your trip might turn into a nightmare.
My recent trip to Ethiopia with my family will give you some insights as to what you need to bring along on your journey to a foreign land regardless of your length of stay.
While the emphasis of this article is to provide what you need to protect yourself just in case a medical emergency should occur, other crucial steps to make your trip a success would also be explored.
What You Need for a Foreign Trip
Passport – It is sad to say that in this day in age you cannot visit most countries without a passport issued by the U.S. Department of State. The process is lengthy and cumbersome unless you’re willing to use a passport expediting service, and you can find one located in any major city in America.
I am always baffled why the government that we elected makes it so difficult and expensive to procure services that we the citizens are entitled to? In simple terms, unless for a few nearby countries, you’ll need a genuine passport to travel abroad, period.
Also, keep in mind that the new passport for those over the age of 16 is valid for ten years, and five years for those below that age. Each passport now comes with a secret biometric chip hidden inside and it will alert the authorities whenever you’re within the vicinity of any major United States Domestic terminal.
Applying for a Visa
A visa is simply a stamped permission on your passport for you to enter a foreign land for a certain amount of time. Visas to some countries are far harder to obtain than others. Do not be surprised at the documents you’ll be asked to bring with you to the visa interview.
Some countries will make you prove you’re capable of taken care of yourself financially during your stay in their country before approving your visa application.
When you apply for a visa to another country you’re basically subjecting yourself to their laws and customs, so it is your obligation to know about them or you might find yourself stuck in a local jail during your trip.
If you’re gay or bisexual pick your host country carefully, for some are not as liberal as in the USA. Homosexual acts in some Muslim countries are punishable by death or long prison terms.
Most Muslim countries would not even grant you a visa if you answer yes to the gay question unless you lie. Regardless, it is your obligation to know the local laws and taboo and follow them religiously if you want to enjoy your stay.
Buying Your Airline Ticket
It was shocking to discover that some countries would not grant your visa application unless you submit it with a valid airline ticket for travel. When faced with such a predicament let the airline know ahead of time that you would be canceling the ticket if your visa application is denied.
I would urge you to pay with a credit card just in case the airline tries to deduct any fees during cancellation. We bought our airline ticket to Ethiopia through our local American Express travel office and they have an established reputation for honest dealing.
Securing Your Lodging
Just to ensure you do not become homeless, some countries would require prove of accommodation for your length of stay before your visa is approved. Again, to protect yourself against visa denial book your hotel accommodation with your credit card and let them know you’ll call to confirm once your visa is approved.
If you’ll be staying with a local host rather than a hotel, each country has rules pertaining to that. I guess your local host would probably need to confirm your invitation to visit. Do not be annoyed, for this is the same rules and regulations American Embassies around the world expect visitors to our country to comply with.
International travel is sometimes encumbered with rules about immunization shots. I remember my doctor recommended I get measles and malaria shots before traveling to Ethiopia. I dislike immunization shots of any kind, for I truly believe most are made from poisonous ingredients and would do more harm than good.
I was able to bypass this nonsense rule on religious grounds. Use common sense and do your own research before subjecting yourself to shots containing questionable substances.
You Need a Good Luggage Set
The travel bags you used for your trip to another city within the United States of America might not be adequate to protect your valuables when traveling to another country. This is an excellent review of the best luggage sets one can use for international travel.
I would urge you to buy a luggage set that is hard-sided, which makes it far more difficult for luggage thieves to go through your belongings. Keep your important stuff on your carry-on luggage including passport, currency, wallet, maps, cell phones, and other crucial documents?
How to Protect Your Health
There are many things we take for granted in America that simply does not exist in many foreign countries. Take, for instance, in many countries, it is customary for you to bargain down prices, while in America we just pay whatever price is listed on the product.
I would urge you to ask your health insurance provider if you’re covered during your trip to a foreign country. Health insurance companies hate dealing with hospitals in other countries because they do not know the cost ratio of services provided.
Some health providers will simply tell you coverage is only provided within the continental United States of America, while others would tell you reimbursement can be provided if the health emergency is covered by your policy.
It is far easier to get a temporary health insurance coverage for your trip overseas to cover your length of stay in any foreign land. Stick with travel health insurance providers with established networks and reputation for honest dealing.
If the insurance provider does not have an approved hospital in your destination country that might be a sign that the coverage might not be worth the asking price. In some countries, the availability of health services are poor, to begin with, and you will have to deal with private clinics that only accept cash upfront for any treatment.
A friend that recently visited the city of Lagos in Nigeria, almost died from an infectious wound simply because the private clinic would not provide treatment unless the payment is fully made upfront with cash.
Keep in mind, that the moment you board that plane to another country, your civil rights or human rights are basically suspended based on your host country practices and customs. Carry enough cash when traveling abroad to handle any health emergencies.
Your trip abroad will be an enlightening one and will open your eyes to other customs and maybe business opportunities. Depending on the country you visit, you will come to appreciate the remaining rights we still enjoy here, once you return home.
You should at least visit other countries during your lifetime, and you can bet you’ll become a better person because of it.