Five tips for safer travel abroad of Newport International Group Corporate Travel
FARGO – I thought Paris would be all macarons, art and wine.
And then I met my first pickpocket, and my iPhone was gone.
Traveling abroad for the first time is exciting and scary.
1. Prep properly.
And don’t confuse a passport book with a passport card. The latter is only good for travel by land or sea, not by airplane.
Visit http://travel.state.gov for more passport information.
People appreciate when you try, and knowing a few phrases can make everyday things like ordering food easier.
A useful app for learning basic words and phrases is Duolingo. The free app has courses in six languages and users speak into their phone to ensure correct pronunciation.
2. Pack smartly.
You’ll be more comfortable blending in with the locals and less likely to be targeted by pickpockets (see No. 5).
3. Don’t forget the power converter.
Outlets and voltage are different in each country. In Europe, for example, the voltage is twice that of America’s.
If you’re planning to charge your cellphone, dry your hair or use other electronics, you need a power converter so you don’t fry your expensive devices.
Big-box stores sell power converters for about $40.
4. Money matters.
Most credit cards charge a 3 percent fee for every foreign transaction, and it all adds up.
Check out http://nerdwallet.com for helpful tips and credit card recommendations.
I was charged 5 percent for any cash I withdrew abroad, but I had to have it on hand at all times.
Some foreign merchants (and Metro ticket dispensers, for example) don’t accept American credit cards, so cash (and coins) are essential.
5. Protect yourself from pickpockets.
European cities topped Trip Advisor’s list of the Global Pickpocket Top 10 in 2010. Paris was No. 3.
I learned this lesson the hard way and had my iPhone stolen from my jacket pocket as I chatted with the seemingly friendly pickpocket.
A few things to note about pickpockets and what to do if someone steals from you:
My pickpockets were women walking on the Champs Elysees carrying sheets of paper asking people to “support the blind and deaf.”
Travel websites recommend carrying a small map and always look like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t.
The chances of getting your stolen goods back are slim though (my iPhone is likely taking the selfies of someone in Europe).