Hazards While Traveling

  • Immunizations and other personal health issues – When traveling in foreign countries, you will be exposed to all sorts of health hazards you normally don’t encounter at home. Information on these hazards likely to be encountered in other countries and regions is available from a variety of sources. Check out the Canadian federal government travel info web site, such as Travel Health & Safety, which offers excellent advice for travellers on how to keep themselves healthy and safe while experiencing foreign countries. Other countries also have web sites with excellent and current information on health risks while traveling. Use your favourite web search engine to find some of this critical information. Then consult with your personal physician and other local health professionals who have special knowledgeable about health hazards that might be encountered in foreign countries. If you haven’t brought your immunizations up to date during the last two or three years, you should start this process 4-6 months before your departure date.
  • Travel advisories – Research the countries you are traveling to before you leave. Know what special conditions you might encounter, so you can prepare yourself, and keep yourself safe by avoiding trouble where possible. In Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs has a very comprehensive web site, where you will find all sorts of useful information for travellers, including health advisories, and entry and visa requirements for every country in the world, as well as links to other related web sites. Again, other countries offer similar services to their own citizens. Check it out before you leave! In Canada, look online for “Foreign Affairs Canada”.
  • Consider taking a cell phone with you, to provide you with that extra level of convenience and security. A tri-band or quad-band GSM world phone will be required if you travel outside of Canada and the USA, since GSM is the cellular standard for most of the world. Program your cell phone’s directory with the numbers you might need before you leave home. If you are based in the USA or Canada, be sure to add “+1” in front of the North American area codes for the numbers you enter. This will ensure your directory entries will work when you leave North America. Store the numbers in your cellphone’s memory, not on your SIM card, since you might be using a third party SIM card when you travel (see Cell Phones for details about this).
  • Avoid making travel mistakes – I know…it’s obvious, isn’t it? Well, even an experienced traveler such as myself or Rick Steves make mistakes while traveling. Whether it’s getting ripped off by a taxi driver charging too much, ending up at a scummy hotel by not having done your homework before leaving, showing up at a museum on a day when it’s closed, or being victimized by a pickpocket or scam artist when you let your guard down. Learn from your mistakes, take precautions, and above all, don’t let it bother you too much! It happens to the best of us.

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