41 countries…and counting

Hierarchy of the U.S State Department. Click t...

Hierarchy of the U.S State Department. Click the image to enlarge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty one countries — and counting.  I’ve been fortunate to see a small piece of the globe and I’ve learned some things also.

While I’m almost always ready to travel at a moment’s notice and will pick up and head to some place on the spur of the moment, I realize not everyone is as spontaneous as I am.

Some folks just need to do research and planning before they head off.  With these folks in mind, I’ve pulled together some insider tips on research before you leave.

There’s a lot you can do to get ready for your trip overseas if you think about where exactly you’re going, how long you’ll be there and just why are you traveling.

Here’s some ideas that you may find helpful:

First do your homework and read as much as you can about the countries where you’re headed.  Learing about the nation’s history, culture, customs and politics will make your trip more enjoyable.

You can find most of this information online, but be sure to check out your local library, bookstores and travel bureaurs.

While English is spoken in many countries, it’s a good idea to learn what you can of the native tongue in the country you’re heading to.

Most airlines that fly internationnaly will be only too happy to give you travel brochures about their destinations.  If you ask nicely they’ll provide you with travel brochures as well as maps.

Embassies or consulates in the U.S. are another source of up-to-date information.  If you look online for the Congressional Directory, you can find addresses and phone numbers for foreign embassies in America.

Also the U.S. Department of State publishes background notes on countries worldwide.  Brief, factual pamphlets with more information than you want to know are available free – and they cover 170 countries.

The Consular Information Program provides pertinent information for travelers. The U.S. Department of State issues fact sheets, known as Consular Information Sheets, on every country in the world. You should obtain the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for any country that you will visit. The sheets contain information about crime and security conditions, areas of instability, and other details pertaining to travel in a particular country.

The Department of State also issues Travel Warnings and Public Announcements. Travel Warnings are issued when the Department of State recommends deferral of travel by Americans to a country because of civil unrest, dangerous conditions, and terrorist activity and/or because the United States has no diplomatic relations with the country and cannot assist an American citizen in distress.

Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or transnational conditions, which would pose significant risks to American travelers.

Jerry Nelson is a professional freelance photographer.  Recognized nationally in the United States, he is now based in Argentina.

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