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Tips For Safe Travel

Planning an overseas backpacking trip? Here's a few tips to prepare you before you go.

Since September 11, reduced airfares and fewer ticket restrictions have made traveling to overseas backcountry destinations cheaper and easier than ever. Even so, some travelers may feel uncertain about venturing abroad. Here are some ways to make sure you stay safe.

  • Secure permits and maps in advance by contacting overseas embassies or land management offices from home.

  • Contact the State Department (202-647-4000; www.state.gov) about any precautions to take. Consular information sheets (available online) explain each country’s entry requirements, areas of instability, medical facilities, embassy locations, and more.

  • Avoid clothing and baggage that marks you as a wealthy Western tourist. Conceal expensive gear and jewelry, and lock all checked luggage.

  • Arrive at your foreign destination early in the day, so you can get out of town and to a hotel or campsite close to the trailhead. Research plane, train, bus, and rental car options in advance.

  • Exchange some cash before departing, so you’ll have local currency to use for taxis and tips when you arrive at your overseas destination.

  • Consider hiring a guide (ask for references). In developing countries, guides can expedite your movements through crowded airports, customs, permit lines, and traffic jams. They’ll also know which spots to avoid.

  • Leave your itinerary (including a photocopy of your passport) with family or friends back home.

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