How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger

How to Travel in Tough     Times of Potential                    Danger

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:  In the continuing state of enhanced security, travelers may unknowingly create unnecessary difficulties for themselves, resulting in a fine, deportation or even jail time. With the wealth of information on the Internet, it is possible to address likely problem areas with a little advance research.  As I have booked more adventure travel, I have been looking back at stumbling blocks that tourists can encounter abroad and how to best avoid them.

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:

Passports and visas: If you don’t follow your destination’s precise requirements, you may be refused admission to that country or not even allowed to board the flight destined to arrive there.

  • Having just returned from India, I was surprised to find my visa included a “special endorsement”, a likely clerical error. It stated that I must register within 14 days of arrival as a tourist. I began researching this in-country and found a “Foreign Nationals” filing requirement.  I had not noticed this initially.  However, there was some procedural concern when I was admitted into the country.  I was curious, but a few days later read my visa and saw a reference to registering in 14 days. As a tourist, I was puzzled.  I went on line to look at the issue and spoke with an Indian friend who was an attorney. I was assured, there was no real problem. Fast forward, to the very busy night I went to Immigration on departure. There was a short delay. The official looked back and forth at the computer. I then heard the word “visa”. A more senior official was consulted. My visa/passport was stamped, and I headed for my flight. It seemed there had been a small error not a real issue. My advice: Before you leave home, read your visa! If there is any restriction, check with the issuing authority. See if there is an error. Ask if the visa can be reissued.
  • When is a 10 year passport not valid for 10 years? Many destinations require that incoming travelers have 180 days remaining on their passports.
  • Passports have been moving towards only being read electronically. Others specifically require passports to have two blank pages marked for “Visas”.
  • Traveling rude and its consequences! When I went to obtain a short-term visa in one country, I saw their express notice that “rudeness will be grounds for a visa application’s rejection.”
  • Some countries allow for online visa vendors but warn of counterfeit documents sometimes occurring.
  • Be sure that your requested dates include not only your arrival in the country but your departure. As I have discovered, while some countries ask for specific dates others give a period of time from date of application. (One country states that if you overstay your visa you must report to the police station and may be deported or jailed. In any case, if you arrive at the airport for your departure with an expired visa, there may be penalties.)
  • Losing an entrance/exit document can delay your departure. I was so strongly warned about this on one trip that I traveled there with a small stapler in my purse to attach my departure document to my passport. From the passport official’s apparent surprise, I could tell this was a first!
  • Note whether you will be making a single entry or multiple entries. On a river cruise between adjacent countries, such as in the Mekong Delta, this can be tricky as national borders can be crossed several times.

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:

Prescription and Other Drugs for Personal Usage:  Although certain medicines, both prescriptions and over-the-counter substances, are legal in your home country, they can result in jail time in certain foreign countries. One country I traveled to had more than 100 such drugs primarily legal at home but illegal there with potential jail time for violations. Once again, the Internet makes it easy to find out what is needed before leaving home. Embassy/consular websites and home country governmental sites, such as the State Department here in the US, generally have relevant links for travelers.  Even absent strict rules for prescriptions for personal usage, transferring a few pills to a small unmarked travel bottle can compound the problem. On one trip, when the airport metal detector sounded and questions resulted about my pillbox with my unidentified vitamins, I was fortunate to have not ended up being delayed!

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:

Don’t carry Mace, chemical sprays or any defensive devices that may be considered a “weapon”.  This can even be true at home.  My recommendation? When I travel, I wear a whistle on a wristlet that I acquired during sailing lessons for “man-overboard exercises”.  The shrill sound would likely cause a crowd to form in any emergency.

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:

Consider local regulations as to liability if driving, engaging in political activity, importing religious or other writings plus photographing military or other sensitive sites.

  • If you rent a car, be sure you know the rules of the road and what your liabilities and rights are in case of an accident.
  • Be careful about suddenly being caught up in political or other mass demonstrations. It can be very hard to understand what is happening in a crowd as I discovered on a Jan. trip to St. Petersburg. Suddenly there were tanks in the street and more and more soldiers appearing. Next, the police roped off the area in which I was standing so that we could not move out. With only one year of Russian, I tried to find out what was happening. Finally, to my relief,  I found someone who informed me that this was a “parade”, a commemoration of the “Lifting of the Siege of Leningrad”. We were just being kept behind ropes to avoid being run over by the parade!
  • In my student days in Europe, in a brief visit to East Berlin, we were warned ahead that even photographs of railroad stations or bridges were prohibited, not something I would have thought about as sensitive sites.

How to Travel in Tough Times of Potential Danger:

Have access to funds from home in case of an emergency.

A new important update: While in India, I visited an American friend in the hospital. They needed to pay cash, not credit card, daily!  Since a patient can’t leave the hospital to go to an ATM, that was not practical.( If you are in a hospital abroad, have cash in the bank and can trust someone with your password and card, you can try sending someone locally to do this.)  However, you may need to have money wired from a friend or relative at home. At least, that way, with a password, the only risk is the amount sent. If someone must access your bank account and credit card, they may need a power of attorney or prior agreement with your bank.

One acquaintance encountered a dispute with border officials abroad only to need local attorney’s fees wired from home on no less than a weekend!  These events can have a way of occurring outside of normal Monday to Friday business hours so be prepared

Fortunately, in my travels to 66 countries to date, I have never found myself caught up in any serious disputes with local authorities. With a little planning and awareness, even in today’s time of enhanced security, tourists can avoid such pitfalls that could undermine a special vacation.

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