- Here are 21 points for you to keep in mind when traveling abroad:
1. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa, if required, in case of an emergency, a relative in the US should have a passport also.
2. Take two copies of your passport and your ticket. Keep copies of your passport and ticket at home and with you on your trip. Store them separately from the originals.
3. Call the state department's citizen emergency center, at (202) 647-5226 for information on the areas to be visited. Stay aware of events in the country you are visiting.
4. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home, so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
5. Make sure you're aware of each carrier's weight and size limitations (they do vary from carrier to carrier).
6. Insure that expensive equipment (ie cameras) have their serial numbers on file at the originating airport and you carry a copy of that document with you (avoid paying import taxes on equipment you already owned).
7. When traveling in disturbed or remote areas, or if residing abroad, register and keep in touch with the nearest American embassy or consulate.
8. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas or accept packages from strangers - even if you have been hanging out with them the whole week.
9. Avoid conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
10. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when exchanging money. Watch out what souvenirs you buy and who is selling them to you - bargaining is an expected custom in some countries, do be prepared.
11. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customes of the countries to which you will be traveling. While in their country, you are subject to their law.
12. Know the address and how to contact the nearest embassy or consulate.
13. Check with your doctor, travel medicine or the CDC for preventative medications and shots you might need while traveling. Be sure you bring a small medical kit with you containing first aid supplies, diarrhea and cold medication. Depending on the country you are going to visit, medication might not be easy accessible.
14. Make sure you know the location and contact information of the nearest decompression chamber and medical facilities as well as the local phone #'s for DAN (919) 684-8111 in case of an emergency.
15. Keep a change of clothes and your important SCUBA gear (mask, computer, regulator) in your hand luggage. You never know, if and when your luggage will arrive and you don't want to spoil your first day of vacation.
16. When checking in at the airport ask for a "priority" sticker on your check-in luggage. It helps to prevent your luggage being left behind, to be transported on a later flight, should the plane be too full. (This happens quiet frequently on smaller planes to Caribbean islands.)
17. Upon arrival check with if there is a safe available at the reception or in your room to store money, passport and ticket.
18. Make sure you know, what currency and credit cards are accepted in the country you are going to visit. Some countries might add a surcharge to your card or won't accept credit cards below a certain amount. Traveler checks are sometimes only accepted at the local bank for exchange.
19. Find out, if a tip is expected and how much is appropriate (house maid, servers, diving staff on the boat).
20. When going on dive boats, check if there is a qualified Dive Master / Instructor onboard, as well as O2 supplies and rescue equipment. If you don't feel comfortable after your first dive, don't feel bad about changing to a different boat should there be another one available. If asked why, let them know, so they can improve.
21. Keep your C-Card/DAN card with you during a dive as well as a small change of money and personal contact information for emergencies. Small pressurize containers can be worn around your neck or attached to the BC (see www.dryboxes.com). Contact len's carriers should also bring a spare pair in case they get lost - one never knows, and not being able to see can cause big problems. •