One of the best parts of experiencing a new country is taking in the differences in culture and lifestyle that make your destination unique. The downside to this culture change is that access to emergency services may be very different than that to which you’re accustomed to at home. Mitigating this risk starts long before you step onto a plane; here are three things I never leave the country without.
- Travel Wallet
If you buy one thing for your international travels, make it a high quality, concealable travel wallet. Mine’s served me well in over thirty countries, some that are especially notorious for pickpocketings such as Romania, Spain, and Italy. Most varieties either use a waistband or a neck strap so that they can be worn under clothing and concealed. Extra cash, passports, transportation tickets, and other essential documents should be kept here and on your person. If you must leave these behind for some reason, such as spending the day at the beach, make sure to keep these in a hotel safe when they’re not on your person.
- Cell Phone with an international plan
Nobody would dare leave their bedroom without a cell phone these days, let alone the country, but the key is making sure your phone works overseas. Carriers such as Verizon and AT&T offer international plans, make sure those are enabled well before your trip. Call beforehand to make sure that your carrier provides service in your destination, especially if you’ll be traveling outside of major and capital cities. If not, the best plan would be to pay for a sim card from a local carrier, something that can usually be ordered online well in advance of arriving at your destination.
- A hard copy of relevant addresses and phone numbers
If disaster strikes, you may be left without a phone or any other means of communicating. As a last piece of preparation, keep a written copy of the addresses, phone numbers, and ideally a small street map of destinations; such as your hotel, your airline, and the closest US Embassy or consulate. Keep one copy in your travel wallet that you bought and another with your luggage. While getting this information together, consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or your country’s equivalent. These programs allow the embassy to notify you in the event of an emergency and makes sure local staff are aware of your presence in the country.