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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travel Tuesday - internet, e-mail and computers

The internet and technology have changed our world considerably.  It has made it easier to get information (and dis-information) about just about everything.  I can get music in Turkish by just turning on my computer.  I can sign up at any number of web-sites for free to get help learning what ever new language that I want to learn.  I can send and receive e-mails from my phone any where that I can get a signal and have service.

I can sign up for a free e-mail address that I can access about any where that I can get internet access.  Think about that for a moment – you can access your e-mail account almost any where.  If you are traveling to a country with an embassy and need to replace your passport I would think that they will be able to help you access that information.

I travel with a computer, I know that many people do, but even if you don’t travel with a computer chances are in the case of an emergency you would be able to find a computer that you could use to access your e-mail account. I wouldn’t keep this information on the computer that you are traveling with because it is vulnerable to being stolen or broken.

The computer that I travel with is used specifically for travel. I don’t have personal information on it like we might on one of our home computers.  We use it to store our travel photos, check e-mails, surf the internet, read e-books, charge the iPod, simple things.  It also has the language software that I use to learn languages so I can study wherever I am.  It’s just a small 10-inch, 3 lb netbook so we aren’t gaming with it or anything like that.

If you travel with a computer that you regularly use at home or work you might want to think about looking at the files that are on it and removing any sensitive information.  I would say be a bit paranoid here, a lot of people who steal computers are usually good at getting information off of them.

If you are not comfortable with having copies of your personal information on-line in your e-mail account, you can save it to a disk/memory card/flash drive and give it to someone that you trust who would be able to send you if you ever need it.  Or I guess if you are really paranoid you can put it on a memory card/flash drive and keep it on a cord around your neck.

Depending on your situation (health, reason for travel, destination etc) you could need copies any number of things, but here are just a few things that might come in handy:

Driver’s license
Insurance cards
Marriage cert
Birth cert
Divorce cert
Credit card info
Emergency contacts
List of prescriptions
List of doctors
Medical information
Eyeglass/contact prescription
Proof of vaccination  

How do you know what you might need?  My mantra is always – prepare, prepare, prepare.  You need to think about where you are going, why you are going, what you are taking with you. 

My husband and I have different last names (which he grumbles about once in a while, but his mother and I have both told him that he is welcome to change his name any time.)  I can imagine that there are one or two countries where our marriage certificate might come in handy.  If you are going to another country to be married and are divorced, you should have a copy of the divorce decree with you. Again it all comes down to why, where, when, who and only you can answer that.

When researching your destination (even if you are not a US citizen/resident the information can be useful) don’t forget to check out the US State Department's travel information website found at:

These are the people who help US citizens outside of the US with whatever problems they run into. The US has the 3rd largest population in the world, so the State department works with a lot of people. 

They have information about potential security concerns and post information to the web site specific to each country. They can be quite specific, for example for France it lists the Gare du Nord train station as a high-risk area for pocket-picking and theft. One of the things for Turkey it talks about are the different kinds of street crime. It says that the Bahamas has a high crime rate and women have reported incidents of verbal harassment and unwanted attention and that water sports and scooter rental industries are not regulated. (I picked the Bahamas as an example because I thought that I wouldn’t find a lot of information on crime, and it looks like it’s the worst place to go to out of the 3!)  Of course there are more things for each country but this gives you an idea of the kind of specific information that they have.

I like this quote from their website – “There is nobody better at protecting you than yourself.  Take some time before travel to improve your personal security – things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States.”

You can also check out

Don’t forget some research before you leave can make your trip more relaxing.

Happy Travels!

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