In an increasingly globalized and technologically advanced world, international travel has become as frequent as domestic travel for many business and leisure travelers. 2016 boats a number of exciting global events and opportunities, and only preparation beforehand can help you mitigate risks to help ensure your trip abroad goes as smooth as possible.
For many travelers, renting a car is one of the first things they do when they arrive at their destination. Whether it's a business traveler who needs to get to a meeting, or leisure travelers looking to take a road trip along the countryside, if not prepared, driving in an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar laws and roads can lead to serious problems.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.24 million deaths occurred on the world's roads in 2010, and different cultures, laws, customs and infrastructure only increase the medical and safety risks associated with road travel. It is imperative for business and leisure travelers, as well as expatriates, to understand the local cultures and laws concerning driving and roads.
For example, travelers may be faced with driving on the German autobahn, where many rural sections have no general speed limit, or they might be in an area with poor roads. Both pose hazardous risks to the unprepared driver. To overcome these risks, prepare yourself by researching routes, downloading up-to-date maps, and learning a few phrases in the local language. Travelers can also take online safety courses before embarking on their trip. However, sometimes, the safest option may be not driving at all. Coming off a long flight coupled with fatigue and driving in unfamiliar territory can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, arranging transportation with a trusted and vetted provider is a smart move to put your mind at ease.
In addition to understanding the road infrastructure to thwart medical risks, it is important for travelers to understand a country's healthcare infrastructure, as well. It is expected many Americans will travel to Cuba this year, an exciting time in our country's history. Brazil is also a hot spot for the 2016 Summer Olympics. However, before traveling, it is advised to research and understand what medical care is offered in what areas, specifically rural ones. This is especially recommended for those travelers who are over 60 years old, or those who take prescription medication.
Consulting with a doctor before a trip abroad is also a best-practice of the prepared traveler. Ensuring you are healthy enough to travel in the first place, as well as ensuring you have all vaccinations needed, will help significantly mitigate medical risks. For those traveling with prescription medication, make sure you have extra in the event of an unforeseen travel delay, and pack the medication in your carry-on in its original container. Knowing the generic name of your prescription drugs is also important, should you need a refill during a trip.
However, even the healthiest travelers can run into medical risks abroad. When traveling to new and exciting places like Cuba or Brazil, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water, especially in warm and humid climates like those in the Caribbean and South America, is key. Be sure the tap water is safe to drink, or check to see if bottled water is recommended for the destination you're visiting. Eating healthy while traveling also helps to mitigate medical risks, whether you're 22 years old, or 62 years old.
It is important to note that the potential for unrest in Brazil should be regularly monitored, especially for those who are traveling to see the games this summer. There were protests in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup, which the country also hosted, and there have been recent protests in connection with the summer games. The protests, coupled with the potential of criminal activity, like in many countries, can pose a security and medical risk.
Understanding a country's, or even a specific city's, travel security and medical risks before departing is one of the most important ways to prepare for a trip abroad. Staying up-to-date on current events both domestically and internationally will help, as well as following the local news in the area you are visiting. In addition to understanding the political and cultural climate, travelers can look at International SOS and Control Risks' 2016 Travel Risk Map. The interactive, free map helps travelers understand potential security and medical risks in countries and regions around the world.
2016 offers an exciting time to travel abroad, whether it's to new destinations like Cuba, to cheer your country on in the Olympics, or to extend a business trip into a leisurely one. It has never been easier to travel, and if you are aware of the risks abroad, it is now easier to properly prepare for a trip - maybe leave zooming down the autobahn to the professionals.