Traveler Do’s and Don’ts

Do carry a list of traveler’s check numbers separate from the traveler’s checks themselves if you choose to buy traveler’s checks.

Do remember that on your flight overseas you will be wearing the same clothes for two days – DRESS FOR COMFORT!

Do carry an extra supply of all prescription medication.

Do carry a list of essential medications and doctor’s phone number.

Do take only what you can carry yourself!

Do plan your wardrobe around one color.

Do plan to dress in layers.

Do place all liquids in plastic bottles and pack inside ziploc bags.

Don’t over pack.

Don’t bring expensive jewelry.

Don’t pack your passport in a suitcase.

Don’t pack money, cameras, expensive jewelry or other valuables in a suitcase.

Don’t pack essential medication in a suitcase.

Using the phone. Dialing direct from hotels is very expensive so it will be best to use a calling card. You can either buy one here and take it with you, or you can buy pre-paid calling cards in most countries now. Check before you leave home about calling card rates for each country you will visit. You will also need to get the access number for your card for each country you will visit. Be sure to check with each hotel to ask if they have a charge for making toll-free calls from your room to the calling card company. Many hotels do have these charges and they can be as expensive as making a direct international call.

If you plan to use your cell phone, be sure to check with your service provider to inquire about international calling, texting and data charges. It can be very expensive if you don’t plan ahead, but it you make arrangements for an international package before you leave, you may find that the rates are very reasonable and affordable. Be sure to ask in hotels where you stay whether they have free Wi-Fi and find out the access code. That will save a lot of money when checking your email or getting online. You can also ask the concierge where a local internet café is located if you need computer access.

Tipping. Don’t worry about who to tip. If someone performs a service you appreciate, go ahead and tip. If someone is not deserving of a thank-you, don’t tip.

Check to see if tipping is customary. In some cultures (primarily in Asia) tipping is frowned upon. And in many places the tips are included in the bill.

Get plenty of small bills and coins for tips as soon as you enter the country. Then you won’t waste money overtipping because you have no change.

Take $25-30 in US $1 bills for emergencies. Bellmen and chambermaids in hotels that have a foreign exchange desk will accept US dollars (not coins) as tips.

Outside the US, always ask if service has been included in the restaurant bill. If it has, it’s usually customary to leave your change, or an additional 3-10% extra (depending on service).

Make the most of your sightseeing time. Don’t feel you have to see everything to get your money’s worth. Choose things you love and do those first. If you have extra time you can always add something else. Check museum and shopping hours. It’s very disappointing to find things closed when you expect them to be open. If you’re planning to attend a special event, call before you go.

Accept the customs of the country. Being tolerant is more than good manners – it’s practical. If you don’t learn about the ways of the country you’re visiting, you may end up thwarting your own plans. Remember that many tropical and Latin countries close everything in the middle of the day for a long siesta. And many restaurants in Mediterranean countries are unprepared for diners until late in the evening…and so on.

BE FLEXIBLE. Allow time for the unexpected, as well as for planned exploring.

Photos: When photographing religious sites, certain foreign people, or members of certain native American cultures, be sure to ask permission first. Many cultures have taboos against taking pictures, or are simply offended by the notion. At the same time, some of your subjects may expect a little reward for their posing particularly in the third world countries. Take along an instant camera if you have one. Snapping a photo and immediately handing the result to your model brings incredible smiles as reward.

Don’t take every camera, lense, tripod, etc. along with you on your trip. You’ll regret being so loaded down and you may lose time going through all of the security and customs checks as a result. Be sure to take extra batteries and film or digital cards. These items are not always readily available overseas and you could lose great pictures if you’re not prepared. It’s also much more cost effective to buy them at home. Be sure to check before letting your film and camera go through the security x-rays. Many are not harmful now, but check to be sure.

Research your Destination. Go to the library and take out some books on the area you plan to visit. Learn something about its history, culture, government, and people. If possible, learn at least a few common phrases of the language. Most large bookstores also have good selections of travel books for you to purchase.


Since foreign trade names are different from those used in the US, ask your doctor or pharmacist for the generic name rather than a brand name. Also, carry a prescription for your eyeglasses. In addition, your basic traveling medicine kit should include: aspirin or aspirin substitute, cold tablets, vitamins, antacids, bowel regulators, sunscreen, spray anesthetic, bandage strips, antiseptic spray and wipes, your usual antibiotic, insect repellent, and an elastic bandage.

Special Diet

If you’re on a special diet, notify your tour operator or cruise line in advance. Also, remember to notify the airline of your need for kosher, vegetarian, or low-salt meals.

If you’re diabetic

Plan ahead and be prepared. See your physician or a diabetes
professional before you travel, especially if you are recently diagnosed or if you are an infrequent
traveler. You may want to subscribe to The Diabetic Traveler, a quarterly newsletter devoted to
this topic. Write to The Diabetic Traveler, POB 8223 RW, Stamford, CT 06905 for subscription

If you have a handicap or disability

There’s an information service to help you plan trips in the US and abroad. Contact Travel Information Service, Moss Rehab M.R. at 215-456-9600 or Or you can request an information package from the Society for the Advancements of Travel for the Handicapped, 347 5th Avenue, Suite 610, New York, NY 10016.

Take two of everything “medical”: prescription glasses, contact lenses, dentures, and other
health-related items.

A dental checklist

No one wants to be saddled with a toothache while on vacation – especially in a plane, where cabin pressure can cause severe pain. Have a dental checkup before you leave, and some items that could be helpful to have with you in case of toothaches are oil of cloves, aspirin or aspirin substitute, bicarbonate of soda, Orabase with benzocaine, or other similar products your dentist can recommend.