Tips, Tricks And Life-Saving Advice For Traveling Abroad

Jul 21, 2011

Tips, Tricks And Life-Saving Advice For Traveling Abroad

When it comes to hopping on a plane for a rafting trip in Fiji, a sea kayaking expedition in the Galapagos, or any other big adventure outside of the U.S., thoughtful planning and packing is critical. We’ve compiled a list of expert advice ranging from clothing to what to have for worst case scenario peace of mind. Keep this list handy the next time you’re gearing up for a big trip. It could save you a headache, or your life.

Before you go. Make a copy of your passport, email a PDF version to yourself and if you’re traveling with a smartphone, take a photo of it. Yes, you’ve heard this one a hundred times, but it’s so easy to forget.

Do your homework. Check the U.S. State Department Website for travel alerts and exit/entry requirements, such as a travel visa.

Visit the CDC website and consult your physician for any recommended immunizations.

Take time to learn a few essential phrases in the native language. What are the local customs where you’re headed? For example, giving the “A-OK” hand gesture in some parts of South America is a big no-no. In Fiji, the locals dress very conservatively. If you are in a town or village, it’s respectful to cover your shoulders and knees. Good to know.

If you plan to bring a camera, phone or other electronic device, consider your options for recharging your gadgets. If you anticipate having access to power, check to see if you’ll need an international travel plug adapter. Alternatively, you may want to pack a portable solar charger.

Money matters. It helps to know about the monetary issues of any country where you plan to travel. Be sure to investigate the currency where you’re going, commonly accepted methods of payment, ATM availability, currency conversion (so that you’re using the latest exchange rates when planning your trip), tipping guidelines, etc.

Pack like a pro. If you prefer a roller for convenience, consider one that converts into a backpack such as the Eagle Creek Switchback™ Max. Made from 100% recycled fabrics and backed by Eagle Creek’s No Matter What™ warranty, this durable bag includes a zip-off laptop backpack, ideal for day trips.

Think lightweight, quick-drying layers. Regardless of where you’re headed, weather can change quickly, sometimes bringing in storms or crazy temperature swings. Make sure to research weather patterns ahead of time and pack accordingly. As a rule of thumb, always plan to wear various layers throughout the day and shed or add on accordingly. If prolonged sun exposure is likely, strongly consider a long-sleeve, nylon shirt with a UPF fabric rating for UV protection.

Buy 2½-gallon freezer bags with zippers. Stay organized by packing similar items together. Then, roll all the air out of each bag to vacuum pack your clothes and save space (bonus!).

Just in case. If you’re going somewhere remote, make sure to have a decent first aid kit with you. Must-have items include Steri-strips which can hold you together if you can’t get stitches right away, Neosporin and waterproof Band-Aids/blister cushions.

Consider asking your doctor to write you a prescription for Cipro — or a similar antibiotic to treat bacterial infections — before you go. If you eat or drink something you regret, you’ll be good to go in no time.

Got cell service? Sure, you can bring your phone along, but just like the backcountry in the U.S., most adventure travel is done in remote areas and chances are your cell won’t be of much help. If you’re going with an outfitter, check to see what type of communication devices they will have on hand and whether or not a Spot device or personal locator beacon might be worth bringing along.

And last, but definitely not least, buy yourself travel and evacuation insurance. Whether it’s a glitch in the travel plans or worst case scenario, this is the smartest thing you can do to be prepared and protected. Broader coverage that includes trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss and medical protection is also highly recommended. O.A.R.S. is partnered with USI Travel Insurance but there are many other providers who offer similar plans.

Safe and happy travels!

This essay was originally created for the 2012 O.A.R.S. catalog. For more compelling stories from other renowned writers, request your catalog copy today!

Reid has guided whitewater and taught swiftwater rescue in the U.S. and Central America on 13 different rivers, after brief turns as a chemistry teacher and newspaper journalist. These days, he tries to turn people on to active, outdoor lifestyles as an executive at WELD.