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Travel Tips From The US Department of State (And Better World Club)

If you are traveling abroad here are the top 10 tips you need to make your trip easier:

1. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport! Please note, that even if you're a full-grown adult, there is no shame in naming your mother as your emergency contact. OK, not much shame.

2. Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit. Look for key words or phrases that could indicate the country isn't safe (e.g., "Civil Unrest", "Kidnapping", "Annual Polka Festival").

3. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. For example, did you know that in Singapore, diners don't tip waiters with money? Instead, a satisfied diner gives the waiter a friendly pat on the rear (This is totally not true, which brings us back to the original point: Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs!).

4. Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. (Preferably with your least photogenic friend/relative as we’ve looked at your passport and that’s not a very good picture of you.) Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.

5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. If you are going on a honeymoon or any other kind of romantic getaway, good taste dictates that you provide an abridged version of your itinerary. If you are a single male use judgment: the more detailed the itinerary, the more likely you are to confirm every flaw in your character discerned by those around you.

6. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not accept candy from strangers.

7. Prior to your departure, you should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States. (See # 5 above, if you are one of those people who reads from the bottom of the page up.)

8. To avoid being the target of a crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards. To avoid being the target of a mime, we recommend staying away from Paris.

9. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques. When in doubt, ask yourself, "Is this velvet painting really worth going to a Salvadoran jail for?" If not, don't buy it.

10. If you get into trouble, click your heels together three times and chant, "There's no place like home". If that doesn't work, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.