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home : Travel : Before You Go :

Tips for Safe and Easy Travel

A few things to consider before embarking on your international odyssey: be safe, hang onto your passport and get the best exchange rate you can.

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Travel Warnings

The State Department issues Travel Warnings for U.S. citizens because of security, riots, terror, crime, health etc. Go to to view a current listing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many third world countries require vaccinations before you leave home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a list of countries (and/or regions in a given country) affected by cholera, malaria etc. Advice on vaccinations may be found at the Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre or visit

Personal Security

It’s surprisingly easy for a thief in Madrid or Rome to snatch your wallet or break into your rental car. How do you minimize the risk of being robbed? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your money, credit cards, travel tickets and passport in a money belt or neck pouch that can be zipped up, rather than in your pocket or purse.
  • Before your departure, make two photocopies of your passport; tickets for travel by air, rail or bus; credit card(s); International Driving Permit, etc. and leave one set at home, and the other packed in your bag. Never keep all your documents together.
  • Don’t park your rental car and leave it behind with any personal belongings.
  • Use plenty of common sense and don’t travel alone at night, or visit unsafe parts of a city or country.

Money Exchange

Generally you get better rates exchanging your U.S. dollars abroad than by buying foreign currency at home. The worst rates of exchange are at the airports and railway stations. Banks or exchange desks also charge a commission. The best rates are at the ATM and you can get foreign currency at any ATM. Plus you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash around with you.


It is easy to phone from most countries to the United States, but it may be very expensive. Never phone from a hotel or hostel. The easiest way is to buy a local calling card or discount prepaid calling card when traveling. It’s cheaper, you don’t need coins and you can call from any telephone.

Government Tourist Offices

For specific information on each country you can contact Government Tourist Offices (GTO’s). Many countries have GTO’s in the United States, and will send you free information, including brochures, maps, and city guides. Most GTOs have web sites and can be contacted via email with requests for information.

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