Information never hurts!
Check the Consular Information Sheets before planning your trip. These list every country possible and give a short description on each country; what the economic status is, crime rates, entry and exit regulations, medical insurance tips and other special things strictly for that country. Did you know that if your parents are from Albania but you are an American citizen and travel there to see where they grew up, you are considered an Albanian citizen and subject to their draft laws? Neither did we, but after looking at the Consular Info Sheets, we found out all this relevant info. Another good website for information is www.state.gov
Keep your Itinerary updated!
Before you leave, let someone know of your plans. Write down countries you plan on visiting and approximately what days you will be in those countries. With the easy access of Internet Cafes, you can easily let your state-side contact know you loved Prague so much you decided to stay an extra four days. We don’t think anything will happen to you, but if it does, your loved ones will have an idea where to start looking
Make TWO copies of your passport!
Leave one at home with your parents or emergency contact information and keep an extra one hidden in your luggage. This will help you should your stuff get stolen. It may not be the original, but at least you will have some sort of identification.
Have Pass will travel!
It’s best to have booked your Eurrail pass before you leave America. There are a few different types of passes depending on the length of your trip. You can have a total of 10 rides or a more flexible pass, such as unlimited rides for 2 weeks. Be sure to research before you go. Also, the train can double as a quiet place to sleep instead of getting a hostel. Get on the train in Paris, sleep through the night and wake up in Switzerland. Sure, you won’t be seeing much of the scenery, but you also won’t have to pay for a bed that night.
What to pack:
Listen up clotheshorses! You can check two bags and carry on one. That’s a total of three bags. That’s it! Also, your luggage cannot exceed 70 pounds. It may be subject to extra charges when you get to the airport. In this case, less really is more. You don’t want to carry around that much stuff anyway, and you want to have room for souvenirs too, so travel light. Trust us, you will start dumping your most prized possessions after your fourth or fifth day of traveling when you feel like you’ve been carrying around the Russian Army on your back. Also, girls, we don’t suggest your best Prada bag filled with thirty pairs of shoes and your BCBG cocktail dress. You will be target for thieves and you will look out of place. Wait till you hit Italy to buy a Prada bag and then stash it away until you get home, better yet, ship it back via UPS or FedEx. Remember, Europe is the fashion capital of the world and will most likely have cooler, more unique things than you see at your local mall. Since you’ve already read the info sheets on the country you are traveling to, you already know the appropriate clothing to wear. (ie. Bikinis in the Middle East - not a good idea!) Not only will flashy jewelry bring you unwanted attention, it will be something on your mind you don’t want to be bogged down with - “Grandma’s heirloom pearls! Now where did I put them?”
Bring a flashlight.
Take a small but heavy flashlight that can clip to your belt loop or your keys. Some countries do not have the lighting you may be used to on side streets, and if you are new to the country and don’t know your way around, small, dim streets can get spooky. Also, (and not that we suggest this, BUT) if you are in a jam on a dark, unlit street, you can use it to your advantage.
Books, books and more books!
Get a pocket travel guide for the country you are visiting and read it on the plane. This will familiarize you with where the hostels are, where to eat within your budget and other local sights to see. How were we to know about the Torture Museum in Amsterdam, or that you have to have a reservation to tour the Heineken Brewery if it weren’t for our handy pocket guide? Research this at your local bookstore or on the internet!
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Not being able to speak the local language while traveling abroad will hinder you from getting help.http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.htmlhttp://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/index.htmlhttp://www.worldtimeserver.com
Here’s another tip you should remember when traveling on train: Every train car will have luggage racks by both entrance doors in every car and luggage racks running along the top above all the seats on both sides of each car(like in an airplane, but racks and not bins).