At some point, most U.S. exporters need to visit the overseas market they are selling into. Some thoughtful preparation can help ensure that your trip is both safe and productive.
Read as much as possible about the countries in which you plan to travel. Informing yourself about a nation’s history, culture, customs and politics will make your stay more meaningful. Such information can be found in most libraries, bookstores, tourist bureaus, and on this website’s Country Commercial Guides, from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Although English is spoken in many countries, it is a good idea to learn what you can of the local language where you will be traveling.
- To avoid being a target, dress conservatively. A flashy wardrobe or one that is too casual can mark you as a tourist. As much as possible, avoid the appearance of affluence.
- Always try to travel light. If you do, you can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.
- Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan a place or places to conceal them.
- Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe.
- Bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.
- Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality and if possible, lock your luggage.
- Consider getting a telephone calling card. It is a convenient way of keeping in touch.
- Don’t bring anything you would hate to lose (jewelry, irreplaceable family objects, all unnecessary credit cards).
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home.
Help In An Emergency
Your family may need to reach you because of an emergency at home or because they are worried about your welfare. They should call the State Department’s Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The State Department will relay the message to the consular officers in the country in which you are traveling. Consular officers will attempt to locate you, pass on urgent messages, and, consistent with the Privacy Act, report back to your family.
How to Access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements
Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements may be heard at any time by dialing the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Bureau of Consular Affairs, at (202) 647-5225 from a touch-tone phone. The recording is updated as new information becomes available. Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements may also be obtained from any regional passport agency, from most airline computer reservation systems, from U.S. embassies or consulates abroad, or by sending your request, (indicating the desired country on the lower left corner of the envelope), in a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Room 4811, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Please view www.state.gov on the internet for more travel information and updates.
Replacing a Passport
If you lose your passport, a consul can issue you a replacement, often within 24 hours. If you believe your passport has been stolen, first report the theft to the local police and get a police declaration.
Help Find Medical Assistance
If you get sick, you can contact a consular officer for a list of local doctors, dentists, and medical specialists, along with other medical information. If you are injured or become seriously ill, a consul will help you find medical assistance and, at your request, inform your family or friends. (Consider getting private medical insurance before you travel, to cover the high cost of getting you back to the U.S. for hospital care in the event of a medical emergency.)
Jet lag can be a real obstacle to your physical and mental health when travelling between time zones. Known to the scientific community as circadian desynchrony, more than 90% of travelers experience it. The best method of combating jet lag is to plan ahead of your travel time by slowly adjusting your schedule to incorporate what will be your temporary new routine. This slow adjustment is not at all hard on the system, and will nearly eliminate the major jet lag symptoms. Exposure to bright light is also a very powerful way to reset the circadian rhythm. To learn more click here.
Some Things To Leave With Family or Friends In The U.S.
Your Itinerary: You should leave a detailed itinerary (with names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons and places to be visited) with relatives or friends in the United States so that you can be reached in an emergency. Also, include a photocopy of your passport information page.
While You Are Overseas: If you change your travel plans, miss your return flight, or extend your trip, be sure to notify relatives or friends at home. Should you find yourself in an area of civil unrest or natural disaster, please let your relatives or friends at home know as soon as you can that you are safe. Furthermore, upon arrival in a foreign country, you should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to register your presence and to keep the U.S. consul informed of your whereabouts.
Flying for People with Disabilities
Traveling by plane is often essential to conducting international business. However, air travel can prove challenging when you have a disability that limits your mobility or ease of communication. This is true whether you have an ongoing disability or a temporary injury. To read more click here.
Obey Foreign Laws: When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. It helps to learn about local laws and regulations and to obey them. Do not deliver a package for anyone, unless you know the person well and you are certain that the package does not contain drugs or other contraband.
Drug Arrests: About 3,000 Americans are arrested abroad each year. Of these, approximately one-third are held on drug charges. Many countries have stiff penalties for drug violations and strictly enforce drug laws. If you are caught buying, selling, carrying or using any type of drug, you will be arrested. You are subject to foreign laws overseas, not U.S. laws, and, if arrested, you will find that:
- Few countries provide a jury trial
- Trials are often long, with delays and postponement
- Most countries do not accept bail
- Pre-trial detention, often in solitary confinement, may last for months.
- If you are convicted, you face a possible sentence of: 2 – 10 years in many countries; a minimum of 6 years hard labor and a stiff fine in some countries; the death penalty in a number of countries (e.g. Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia)
Legal Aid: Because you are subject to local laws abroad, there is little that a U.S. consular officer can do for you, if you encounter legal difficulties. A consular officer cannot get you out of jail. They can provide a list of local attorneys and help you find adequate legal representation. If you are arrested, you should ask the authorities to notify a consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Under international agreements and practice, you have the right to talk to the U.S. consul. If you are denied this right, try to have someone get in touch with the U.S. consular officer for you.
When alerted, U.S. officials will visit you, advise you of your rights according to local laws, and contact your family and friends, if you wish. They will do whatever they can to protect your legitimate interests and to ensure that you are not discriminated against under local law. U.S. consuls can transfer money, food, and clothing to the prison authorities from your family or friends. They will try to get relief, if you are held under inhumane or unhealthy conditions or treated less favorably than others in the same situation.
www.fedtravel.com – Hotels, motels and airline information
www.nws.noaa.gov – U.S. weather
http://www.embassyworld.com – Assistance from U. S. Embassies and consultates. We have U.S. embassies in more than 160 capital cities of the world. Each embassy has a consular section. Consular officers in consular sections of embassies do two things: they issue visas to foreigners and they help U.S. citizens abroad.