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Because we live in a high-tech world these days, many of us approach overseas travel quite casually. We’ve done it, we aren’t apprehensive, we love the thrill of the adventure. That’s fine, but we also need to be wise in our travels to avoid situations that can become serious in a hurry.

The political climates in many parts of the world make it dangerous to travel. Before booking a flight to any part of the world, become familiar with any unrest in the area. Know who you’ll meet or where you’ll be staying upon arrival and be sure you have safety in mind as you plan. It’s also a good idea to contact your center for disease control to see if there are any outbreaks of disease or any particular dangers such as infected animals in certain regions. Forewarned is forearmed.

Here are four danger areas to protect against when planning your next overseas adventure. A bit of planning and proactive study can make all the difference should trouble rear its head while you travel.

 Jet Lag/Minor Illness

You can almost count on having some jet lag when traveling across time zones. Some say you’ll need one day of rest for each time zone crossed in travel. Symptoms of jet lag may be headache, disorientation, fatigue, dehydration and abdominal upset. You can minimize the effects by engaging in simple exercise, finding natural sunlight as soon as possible, eating and sleeping on the new time schedule as quickly as possible and by limiting alcohol intake while traveling. Taking a day for a stopover rather than traveling long distances all at once is also wise.

Prepare for other minor illnesses such as stomach upset or diarrhea by limiting new or possibly unclean foods, drinking only bottled water and taking over the counter medications along with you where they are available as needed.


Tourists are prime targets for pickpockets and thieves. Some target seniors. Learn to carry hard luggage, separate your valuables into safer front pockets or pouches carried underneath clothing. Be especially aware in crowds, lines and in any situation where it would be easy to distract you. Keep lists of important papers and photocopies of both the contents of luggage and identification papers.

Be wise in striking out on your own in unknown areas. Learn the safest ways to book rental vehicles, find hotels and make other arrangements while on the road. Beware of scam artists who prey on foreigners and don’t trust strangers, even if they’re beautiful little children, as they are often trained in thievery.


Do a bit of study before embarking on a trip to a new and exotic climate. You’ll want to pack appropriate clothing and be sure to have layers to add or take off. Plan to always have bottled water and buy extra for excursions where it may not be readily available. Carry bug repellant and rest when your body tells you it’s tired. Wear good shoes to avoid blisters or lack of support. The weather may be beautiful, but if you’re not used to the heat or the cold, it can quickly become a problem.


A simple sprained ankle or minor cut can become an emergency while traveling. Think ahead by taking a well-stocked first aid kit in your carry-on luggage. Keep your medications and over the counter drugs close at hand and have local emergency phone numbers with you as well.

Should you be involved in a traffic accident be sure to take note of all information. You’ll need names and phone numbers of everyone involved. You’ll need to know the owner of a rented car, the license number and the make and model of the vehicle. You’ll need to document exactly what happened and make a drawing of the event. Contact local police. Know the phone number of your embassy for further help with accidents, lost passports, and the like.

You may want to invest in travel insurance which is fairly inexpensive and covers the cost of returning quickly to your home should you become ill. You’ll also want to get recommendations from trusted authorities should you need to find medical care while traveling.

Vacations are often the highlight of the year and some are planned for many years. We don’t want to allow preventable situations from stealing the joy of travel. So do your homework, and enjoy the benefits of a carefully planned overseas vacation.

Check out these sites for further travel safety information:

U.S. State Department

Cheapo Air

Solo Traveler