Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
My husband and I would like to travel to Europe, but wonder about the safety of overseas travel. What do you think of tour groups? Do you have any tips on how to stay safe in foreign countries?
Tour groups have their advantages and disadvantages. The good points are safety in numbers and you don't have to worry about getting around. Some negatives are that your group stands out as being tourists, you won't have as much flexibility, and you may be on a rigid schedule. Tour groups are bused to numerous locations to fit in as much sightseeing as possible, and you won't be able to enjoy one city to its fullest. However, if it would make you feel more secure to be looked after, then travel in a tour group. Other travel tips, whether or not in a tour group are below.
Travel Tips in a Foreign Country
1. Always wear a money belt under your shirt (keep your extra cash, passports, credit cards here or in the hotel safe).
2. Dress like a local. Overseas, locals tend to dress more conservatively.
3. Language: although most people speak English, memorize a few key words in their foreign language, especially: hello, excuse me, please, thank you, and goodbye. Your efforts will be rewarded by the locals who appreciate your attempts.
4. Learn about the countries you'll be visiting before you go. Get information, not only about sightseeing, attractions, and restaurants, but local customs, safe areas of town, street maps of the cities.
5. Use a credit card whenever possible. You won't have to worry about the currency conversion, and you won't get short changed when getting change back.
6. Taxi: at the airport or around the city, get a taxi from an authorized taxi stand, check that the taxi is licensed, and find out the price of the cab ride to your destination before getting into the taxi. In some instances, you might be able to negotiate the price.
7. Last, but not least, check out any travel warnings issued by the U.S. State (www.travel.state.gov) before you make your reservations. See also, "10 Tips for Traveling Abroad" below.