Just about half a century ago, people did not travel so much, particularly to foreign countries. Now they do. However, travel of whatever kind is stressful and there are ways to make travel stress-free. With the internet, booking cars, checking out local transport options, restaurants, night life, tourist attractions, shopping, becomes very easy – all you need is a credit card.
At the same time, it is also easy to get sucked in by glowing testimonials on web sites and there are innumerable horror stories on forums as well.
First things first: passport and visas
If you don’t have a passport you need to apply for one before making any plans. It is only when you know that your passport is ready that you can make travel plans. Of course, if you already have a valid passport – many countries insist that you have a certain number of blank pages in your passport and that your passport should be valid for at least six months more from your date of travel – you still have to check out about visa requirements.
Some countries may give visas on arrival for a short visit. Other countries may require that you have to have a visa stamp on your passport before reaching the country. In case you plan to travel to different countries, you may need multiple entry visas.
The smart traveler
A seasoned traveler learns through experience. A first-time traveler can do with little tips to help make travel an enjoyable and stress-free experience.
• Keep all original documents in an easily accessible place and keep photocopies in a suitcase as also either on your computer or at home in case of any emergency.
• Most countries now insist on medical insurance and some insurance companies also give bundled travel insurance – makes sense if you get stranded anywhere.
• Carry some cash with you in a universally accepted currency for expenses at airports or even for local transport at your destination – you can change the currency at the airport. More money should be carried in the form of credit cards, but make sure the country you are traveling to accepts credit cards, otherwise you will simply have to take traveler’s cheques with you.
• Get vaccinated if required
• Take all your regular medicines with you and some extra like a course of antibiotics or medicines for an upset stomach or food poisoning. If you are allergic to anything make sure you carry anti-allergy medicines. If you carry prescription medicines, carry your doctor’s prescription with you.
• Carry an extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses with you.
• Make sure to carry weather and culture specific clothes.
• A travel adaptor, torch and other small handy items that you need should always be with you.
The safety factor
Tourists are often easy prey to all kinds of predators even in advanced countries. Robbery and mugging are common crimes, so don’t be too trusting when traveling. Apart from crimes even simple matter like crossing a road can be dangerous if you don’t know the traffic rules. In all countries a red traffic light does not mean that traffic actually stops! There are many places where traffic and pedestrians can be quite unruly.
Most countries ban drugs and there may be stiff penalties, even death, if you are caught with even small amounts. Again, you should be careful that you do not fall prey to touts.
Traveling can be great fun and a learning experience as well, but a holiday can be ruined if you are not safe. You can make travel stress-free by planning and being well prepared.