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Tips For Traveling Abroad

Most people know to ask for unopened bottled water when traveling in areas where the drinking water is not safe, but they may not realize that it's all too easy to get sick from ingesting water while showering, even if trying to keep one's mouth closed. The solution: Always keep mouthwash in your mouth while showering. It will help you remember to keep your mouth closed, and the antibacterial agent in it will help purify any water that gets in anyway (e.g. through your nose).

Upon arriving at a new international destination, you might consider taking a taxi instead of roughing it and riding by metro or train (do not spend an arm and a leg for it) because you will more likely be able to see parts of the town. This is a nice way to get a glimpse of your new "home", and it also gives you a chance to become accustomed to open spaces once again. 

Don't assume you will be able to tap into your voice mail from foreign pushbutton phones. Telephones have "accents" and what works in the U.S. may not work from England. Have a back-up plan in place or take a portable tone-imitator.

You will get the best exchange rate for foreign currency from an ATM. If you must have local money on arrival, exchange only as much as you will need at the airport on departure or arrival, then use ATMs while you are in the country. (There are some exceptions - for example, it is almost impossible to obtain Hungarian currency anywhere but in Hungary, but they will gladly take dollars). Use credit cards as much as possible for a good exchange rate. If you are a business traveler, you will have a much more accurate accounting of your expenses. Learn the exchange rate as soon as possible - for example if there are 6 Francs to an American dollar, memorize the value of 20, 50, 75, 100, and 500 francs. This will help a great deal when trying to figure out how much something really costs.

When traveling to many third world countries, before paying for a room, make sure to look at the room first. Along the same lines, take a quick tour of the hotel before deciding to stay. Even though some of the hotels may be nice on the outside, what is on the inside is not always up to your standards.

In a restaurant, ask for a bottle of water UNOPENED. Have them open it at the table, and you can be sure you won't get local water.

Unless you are traveling to Canada from the US, it is usually not safe to drink the water. The water is safe to the locals who are used to it. This doesn't matter if you're a resident of Ukraine of the UK - to residents the water is safe, but not to travelers. All water contains different sets of microbes and mineral deposits, even in the US. If you aren't used to a country's drinking water, then you may get sick just because it is different. Be safe, buy bottled water cheap at the supermarket.

While traveling to foreign countries, make sure you try the local foods - and please do not compare everything to home (prices, quality etc.) because you are not home. While some foods and beverages may seem odd, try them and appreciate them. Avoid McDonald`s, Burger King etc. Sample local fares at local cafes and be friendly and courteous.

When you're visiting bazaars, but you don't like to be hassled by vendors all the time, here's a tip: pick out one of those so called students that offers to guide you around. Make clear to him you want to walk and look around but don't plan to buy anything. You pay him a little amount of money, he'll keep the vendors off, and you won't get lost in these dark, narrow streets (that all look the same)!

While in any country that you can't read the language ... and you are using your charge card to get the best currency rate ... write on the charge slip right away the amount, items, date, and place of purchase so YOU can read it when the statement comes at the end of the month. Makes for a lot easier bookkeeping. Many times the ink is so faint, you can't read what it says in any language.

Don't use foreign pay phones that only take credit cards. Your 5 minute phone call could end up costing you $500

When visiting a foreign city, carry a matchbook or postcard with the name and address of your hotel, which you can show to taxi drivers or when asking directions. This is particularly important in countries like Greece, where the alphabet is different.

When traveling in Europe, it is cheaper to buy individual rail passes if you are only going to one or two countries, instead of buying a Eurail pass that covers eighteen. The individual one, such as the Swiss Pass or the France Rail/Drive, can give you much more for a better price.

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