7 Ways to Avoid Mishaps When Travelling Abroad

From knowing how to pack your luggage properly to making the most out of your cellphone, here are seven ways to avoid mishaps when travelling abroad.

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Man at airport luggage carousel
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International Travel Tips: Divide and Conquer

International travel doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re vacationing with a companion, pack some of your belongings in each other’s bags. If one gets lost, you’ll each arrive with half your stuff. “I take a picture of the luggage tag and the suitcase before it gets checked,” says Carolyn Ali, a former travel editor for The Georgia Straight in Vancouver.

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Chef preparing vegetables for salad
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International Travel Tips: Beware the Salad

Greens are not always good for you. In countries where sanitary standards can be lower than Canada’s, fresh fruits and vegetables can harbour hepatitis A and harmful bacteria. Avoid eating anything raw if you think there’s a chance it was washed in local, unfiltered water.

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International Travel Tips: Make the Call

Check if your phone is “unlocked,” meaning it’s not hard-wired to work with only one wireless carrier. If it isn’t, ask your provider to unlock it—this is often possible for a modest fee. Unlocked phones can accept foreign SIM cards, so you can use data and make calls on local carriers. These SIMs provide stronger coverage and can be cheaper. While roaming plans often cost up to $10 a day, you could get around two weeks of unlimited data and in-country calling for that price in countries such as Thailand or Argentina.

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Woman at airport
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International Travel Tips: Check In On Time

Passengers who check in last-minute are the most likely to be bumped from oversold flights. Some airlines allow you to do so online 24 hours before the check-in deadline using your computer or smartphone.

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Man on laptop and cell phone
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International Travel Tips: Watch Out for Wi-Fi

Not all hotspots are secure, and hackers can use them to access your banking and other personal info. Toronto-based tech expert Marc Saltzman notes that if you need to use a public hotspot, make sure you confirm the name of the network and the establishment that’s hosting it-scanners set up so-called “rogue networks,” sometimes with names similar to the café or motel where you’re connecting. He also recommends using a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts your information and keeps your browsing under wraps.

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Woman applying skin cream to her hands
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International Travel Tips: Think Ahead

“A well-stocked toiletry kit will save you from catastrophe,” says veteran travel writer Michele Sponagle. She suggests bringing moleskin (great for treating and preventing blisters), Gastrolyte (a rehydration formula that’s handy for post-diarrhea recoveries) and dry shampoo (ideal for when you’ve got limited access to water or find yourself stuck with a freezing shower).

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Woman using her credit card
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International Travel Tips: Know Your Credit Card

Check to see if yours offers travel insurance—some cards may offer rental cars, trip interruptions and even emergency health care. And if a new purchase, bought with the card in question, gets stolen on your trip, the company may also cover all or part of the item’s cost, says Tom Wolfe, chief concierge at the Fairmont San Francisco. But be sure to read the fine print—some policies include evacuation benefits (and some don’t), while certain agreements will exclude you from coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition or if you consume alcohol before a risky activity, like rafting.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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