It’s summertime and that means it’s time to pack up the suitcases and start exploring. Whether you are planning a backpacking trip through Europe, a swim through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or a relaxing beach getaway to Mexico, the American Red Cross suggests a few things to remember when traveling internationally. My family’s recent trip to Cancun, Mexico illustrates how these tips can be helpful.
First, we began planning the trip almost a year in advance and there was plenty of preparation, similar to all international trips. We made sure to have valid passports; all international travelers must have one when leaving the United States. Also, travelers must be aware of the expiration date, since some countries deny travelers whose passports expire in less than six months, and it can take a couple of months to receive a new one.
Next, my parents always contact our credit card company whenever we plan to be out of town for a long period of time. We have learned the hard way that unusual purchases can lead to the bank shutting off a credit card. It is also important to be aware of the natural disasters that are usual in an international destination. We encountered this directly, when there was a tropical storm passing through Mexico right before our planned vacation. Luckily, by staying up to date and constantly watching the weather, we determined the storm wouldn’t affect our trip.
As vacation dates get closer, everyone’s favorite part of traveling begins: packing. Packing lists for international trips should always include important medications. In my sister’s case, this always includes medication for motion sickness during flights. Travel essentials should also include bug repellant and a “yellow card” that lists personal immunizations, allergies, and blood type. International travelers can also download the American Red Cross First-Aid App in case of everyday emergencies while they’re abroad.
Once we finally arrived in Mexico after a long day of travel, my family and I were ready to hit the beach. However, it is important to make a plan for where to meet or what to do in case of separation or some kind of emergency during an international trip. We made sure to have a place to meet, especially when we were all at the pool or beach and not with our cell phones. Also, we discovered that all buildings at our resort had emergency exits and evacuation plans listed. Our concierge also provided us with emergency contact numbers at check-in.
International trips can give us brand new, exciting experiences as long as we take necessary steps to stay safe. Some extra precautions to take while traveling are to register a trip with the U.S. State Department and to have contact details to the nearest U.S. Embassy. For more information visit the American Red Cross Website: Tips for a Safe Summer Vacation.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.