Stay Healthy and Safe While Traveling Abroad



Do recent terrorist attacks or the Zika virus have you reconsidering your travel plans? The latest advisories issued for visitors to Europe and even the United States may leave you feeling New Zealand is the last safe haven for a holiday.

CLICK HERE for my Travel Safety interview with Phil Hulett who says he isn't even going to Disneyland anymore. Phil is the Anaheim Ducks game commentator and this interview was on his L.A. radio show.

Ultra-Economical travel is about traveling inexpensively, but not at the expense of your well being. If you have concerns about traveling somewhere, there is no place on earth that is so amazing from a vacation perspective, that no other will do. That said, some concerns are over inflated in the media, so I wrote this article to offer facts that put travel safety risks into context so you can make informed decisions, and make use of the resources to steer clear of common traveler pitfalls.

For reliable and up-to-date travel advisories:

·       Safety:  travel.state.gov has a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program that sends real-time safety advisory e-notifications for any destination you request information about.

·       Health: The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Traveler’s Health webpage outlines health risks by destination and suggests preventative measures you can take. You can browse risks by circumstance such as travel with children, while pregnant, taking a cruise or with weak immune system. Travel Health Notices by country are posted here and are categorized as either:

o   Practice Usual Precautions

o   Practice Enhanced Precautions

o   Avoid Nonessential Travel

- If you are reconsidering travel to Europe due to recent terrorist attacks, it's important to keep in context that the odds of a terrorist attack occurring are completely different the odds of finding yourself at the site of a terrorist attack at the time that it happens. These statistics published by the CDC suggest your biggest risks while traveling abroad are the same as those you face at home - of being in a car accident. In my opinion your most likely health and safety risks while traveling are apt to be food sickness or petty travel scams. Here are some rules of thumb to steer you clear of these risks while abroad: 

Health - Before departing on your trip, schedule an appointment at a Travel Health Clinic. These clinics inform you of heath risks specific to the destination you are visiting, and they factor in what you will be doing and suggest preventative measures you can take including vaccinations and medication to prevent travel related sickness. Once you arrive, try to eat local yogurt as the bacterial culture will help your system build immunity to local germs.

Medical Coverage - From an impact perspective, your biggest risk is requiring medical support and not having adequate coverage. A number of travelers have experienced financial ruin from this seemingly innocent oversight. You might have heard of high profile cases where travelers had to make large up front payments to get treatment, or pregnant women delivering early while vacationing and being left with six figure bills for air transportation and extended care.

Before you purchase global medial insurance, check your employer's benefits policy to see if it extends to travel abroad. If not, ask if you can extend your coverage to include it for an added cost. Worldnomads.com offers global medical coverage to anyone going anywhere. Simply provide your country of residence, your travel destination, dates and number of travelers, and you will see a number of comprehensive medical coverage plans to choose from.

Safety Tips

·         Don’t wander alone at night, or at least do not do so without knowing about at risk areas.

·         Avoid public demonstrations and protests.

·         Stay away from border areas and bad neighborhoods.

·         Resist recording people and things that may anger others.

·         Don’t flash anything that can tempt opportunists.

·         Don’t share personal or sensitive information with strangers.

·         Remain constantly aware of your surroundings.

·         If you do not know the local language, carry your hotel’s business card so you can show it to your taxi driver to get back to your hotel.

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You - Often times, the things you should worry about most do not make headline news. To find out what dangers lurk that may not be in national travel advisories, lookup the embassy closest to your destination. This is also an effective way to learn if there are any local laws or customs you should be aware of. For example, many travelers to Singapore do not know:

It is illegal to:

·         Smoke in public ($150 fine)

·         Not flush public toilets

·         Jaywalk, chew gum, spit in public or eat on public transit ($375 fine)

Punishable by death:

·         Unlawful discharge of a firearm

·         Import, expert, manufacture or possession of drugs in quantities more than grams.

Did you know that in the Middle East, police can arrest or deport you for:

·         Being too friendly

·         Kissing in public

·         Staring into a married man’s eyes (women)

·         Speaking directly to a woman with a male companion (men)

If you inadvertently upset locals
, de-escalate the situation using what I call the triple-A:

·         Acknowledge your error

·         Apologize

·         Act to rectify/de-escalate

Keeping Connected - There is a misconception that travelers want to unplug from their phones while abroad. Truth is, there is no more important time to have a smartphone than when you are traveling. When you are in unfamiliar territory, you are much more likely to need to access information to help you along your way, and smartphones are invaluable travel tools that give you access to what you need precisely when you need it. My favorite apps for keeping safe abroad are:

·       Travelsafe Pro: Has an international directory of emergency services and embassies

·        IStone Travel Translation: Choose from a list of phrases and your phone will repeat it in the language of your choice.

·       Taxi Finder: Select taxis using this app to ensure they are legal. It comes with an ‘Estimator’ that gives you approximate fares for your route.

·       Tripso: Has downloadable local maps worldwide you can access offline.

CLICK HERE to hear me discuss Travel Safety on Michigan’s Big Show

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows.

He is also the author of amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less’ available at stopdreamingstarttraveling.com.

FREE GUIDE: Download ‘Beat the Best Online Fare – Every Time, Every Flight’ at breakthetravelbarrier.com