Your summer vacation: Have fun, stay safe, always talk to strangers
Aside from the things you already knew you’re supposed to do, like (ahem) make copies of your passport and credit/debit cards and let your bank know you’ll be traveling (so they don’t freeze your accounts when they see a slew of charges from those Caribbean islands you’re hopping), here are a few tips to stay safe and be prepared during your summer travels…
Keep yourself covered when traveling
Even if you’re on a budget, it’s almost always a good idea to buy basic travel insurance when going out of the country. Check SquareMouth.com to figure out what you need and compare quotes. (Does your health plan cover you abroad? Eitherway, you’ll have to choose between primary and secondary medical coverage when you buy travel insurance that covers your health issues when traveling). In addition, traveler credit plans offer purchase protection — check with yours to see if, for instance, your iPhone or digital camera will be covered if it’s stolen during your trip, and what you’d need to file a claim.
Be a “Smart Traveler”
If you’re leaving the country, don’t forget to register with the State Department. Their job is to take care of Americans abroad, so in case anything happens to you, or if someone needs to get a hold of you, give State a head’s-up and the local U.S.embassy or consulate will able to track you down more easily if needed. It’ll also make it less of a headache to get your passport replaced if you happen to lose it while traveling.
Call home while abroad
Or tweet home, or whatever. As worldwide mobile hotspot services become more popular, and more affordable, there’s no reason not to stay connected on the road. “Pocket wifi” rentals ensure that you’re never without a 3G internet connection,no matter where you go. Tep Wireless offers 500 MB of data for ten days for $115, if you’re traveling to Europe (Asia, Africa, and the Americas are pricier, at $165); XCom Global charges a flat $14.95 a day. Both companies shiptheir device to you before your departure date. Consider the crazy cost of international data roaming — about $20/MB with the major carriers — and those deals start to look pretty sweet. Plus, it’s not just convenient to have internet accesswherever you are: the more often you can pull up Google Maps to find your way to the bar where you’re having drinks with a travel buddy, the less time you’ll spend getting lost in an unknown city after dark, and the safer you’ll be.
Talk to locals while traveling
Okay, so not all of them. But one of the best ways to find out the best (and worst!) parts of a new city is to ask a bunch of people you meet there. Even when you have a good guidebook in hand, locals can still give you the best advice about where to go and what to stay away from. So talk to them!
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