Before you go
Make a list of everything you need to do well in advance.
Check that all your travel arrangements are in order and the information on tickets is correct.
Reconfirm flights, hotel and car reservations and be sure you have reservations numbers with you.
Prepare all documents you'll need for your trip.
Photocopy your passport and other important documents, and keep one copy with you in a separate bag and another copy at home or with friends.
Prepare an itinerary, including all flight information, hotel names and numbers, etc.
Get information on your destination through guide books, travel magazines, Web sites and by requesting information from the tourism office.
If traveling overseas, use charge cards for purchases as much as possible. You'll likely get the best rate that way.
Exchange a small amount of money before you go.
Traveler's checks are widely accepted, but not as popular as they used to be before people starting using credit cards and ATMs.
While traveling, carry your cash and charge cards in a money belt or hidden pocket. Keep valuable out of sight and avoid wearing jewelry.
Avoid calling from your hotel. When using calling cards, make sure before you leave that your particular plan is accessible from the countries you'll visit. Consider communicating with friends and family via e-mail. Sign up with a Web-based provider and you'll find that you'll be able to find Internet access in some of the most remote places on earth.
Flying and airport travel tips
When booking your flight, try to get your seat assignment when you make your reservation. If you have a choice between two connections and the fare is the same, chose the airport that is less congested because you'll less likely miss you connection. In winter, chose the connecting airport that is less likely affected by bad weather.
Order special meals when you make the reservations or at least two days prior to flying.
Pack a few snacks (juice, protein bar, dried fruit) in your carry-on.
Select flights that reduce the likelihood of your baggage being delayed or lost - such as nonstop or direct flights.
Check in early enough to ensure your bags travel with you.
Choose your luggage wisely, looking for durability and stability. Remember that suitcases take a beating each time you check them in, so try not to have parts sticking out.
If your suitcase is stuffed, it's a good idea to wrap a luggage strap around so the lid won't pop open. Also, make sure a luggage tag that includes name, phone number and e-mail address are on the outside as well as the inside of the suitcase. Avoid using your home address on the outside - there's no need to direct robbers to your vacant home.
Many suitcases look alike, so put a ribbon or sticker on your suitcase that makes it easy for you to identify it.
Travel light - you'll be glad you did. Bring lightweight, washable, wrinkle-free clothes and think layers. Use travel-sized toiletries.
Never include valuables, medications, keys, passport, vouchers, important papers, fragile and perishable items in your checked luggage. Put those and any items you will need the first day in your carry-on.
When checking in the suitcase, watch the agent puts the correct destination code on it.
Be sure to have a claim check. Many airports require them.
Report any problem to the airline before you leave the airport.
Purchasing a plane ticket
Pay by credit card - it provides certain protections.
When you receive your ticket, make sure your name and all the information on it is correct. Then keep it in a safe place.
Call the airline 48 to 72 hours before departure to reconfirm.
Plan well in advance and find out if you'll need any immunizations and what diseases you'll need to look out for.
Be prepared for emergencies or illness and carry a medical kit with you.
Check on insurance coverage.
Find out if water is safe for drinking. Bring along your own water purification kit or drink only bottled water.
Any raw food may be contaminated. Of particular concern are salads, uncooked vegetables, unpeeled fruit, unpasteurized milk and other milk products, raw meat and shellfish.
Choose carefully what you eat and drink - traveler's diarrhea is the most common illness of travelers.
Wash your hands frequently.
Don't walk around barefoot.
In the tropics, find out if malaria is a problem. Wear long sleeves and long pants, avoid dark colors and don't use scented toiletries. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and sleep under mosquito netting.
Other health hazards include exposure to extreme heat or cold, and traveling to high altitudes.
Don't forget your sunscreen!
Get enough rest before you start your trip.
Eat lightly a day or two before the trip, and continue eating lightly while traveling.
Drink non-alcoholic, decaffeinated beverages, especially water. Make sure you stay hydrated.
Bring earplugs, eye-shield, and neck-pillow to help you sleep on the plane.
During a long flight, do in-seat exercises, but also get up, stretch and walk around. While you're in the bathroom, give your legs a quick massage.
When you arrive at your destination, drink plenty of fluids, get some exercise and take a bath or shower.
In a foreign country, even simple questions can become a problem, but it's highly unusual not to find someone who speaks at least a little English.
However, learning a few phrases (e.g., thank you, please, hello) and numbers in the native language will go a long way toward making your stay more enjoyable.
Various tips for (overseas) travel
Bring snapshots of your family, house, hometown.
In many developing countries, it's a good idea to dress conservatively as not to offend, and a mid-calf, loose skirt for women, and shirts and long pants for men make appropriate clothing.
Bring along small items to help break the ice with local kids and adults, but resist the urge to give out money, candy, pens, and other trinkets to begging children.
Bring supply of Ziploc bags for isolating or storing wet/dirty clothes, or organizing.
Bring a mini tape-recorder to capture audio memories.
Bring lightweight binoculars, spare camera, batteries, one-dollar bills (for tips),
In risky, crowded, theft-prone areas, always keep bags in sight. Store valuables in money belt or neck pouch under your clothes, but keep some money handy. Carry your backpack in front.
Avoid exchanging money on the black market.
Hang on to your currency-exchange receipts.
Don't take photos of locals without their permission.
Before you go