April 7, 2009

When Travel Abroad: Knowing a Bit of a Foreign Language Goes A Long Way

Just because we speak English, doesn't mean we're ready to travel

Knowing a Bit of a Foreign Language Goes A Long Way

Apparently – not many people know English, and some of them do not want to be approached in English (as many French showed to me over and over again every time I visit France.) For some, it might be an offense to be approached in a foreign-to-them language. So, here is a tip that you’ll be thankful for later – approach any local in their native language. Learn a phrase or two, or at least the words like “Excuse me”, “Can I ask you”, “Can you help me”, or “Please help me.” The probability that this person would be more approachable and open to start a conversation after you attempt to speak their native language would double. You’ll see…

Non-smoking Area Might Mean Too Close to Smoking

When you book a hotel, I’m sure most of you will be booking a non-smoking room. However, if in U.S.A. it means that most likely the whole hotel is smoke-free or at your non-smoking room is at least five-six stores away from the ones who smoke, it’s different in Europe (and Asia, and India, etc.)

(Madrid, Spain)

Your non-smoking room might be next door to the smoking room, and most of the European hotel windows open, unlike in U.S.A. So, the likelihood that you’d be still inhaling the smoke from your neighbor’s room is very high. Thus, when you are booking a non-smoking room, a barely mentioning that you want a non-smoking room is not enough. Make sure that the hotel clerk puts you far, far away from the smoking environment of the hotel. And if they don’t offer any remote locations to separate you from the smoking crowd, try a different hotel. Otherwise you might as well smoke yourself. That’s how it could feel in such countries like Italy, Russia and France, where still many public places allow smoking inside hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers.

(Paris, France)

Just Because There is No Disease Awareness News on CNN, Does Not Mean It Does Not Exist

Seldom, if ever, you get to hear mass media news on how health or unhealthy other countries are. It is not their popular subject matter to report on, unless it’s a massive salmonella attack in U.S.A. And most newspapers and TV news on local channels don’t report about viruses, diseases or epidemics threatening the whole region, or part of it at once.

Use CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) site to access the map, or a list of countries from the menu, to select a destination and get travel health information for that location here.

Surprisingly enough, even the countries that you might think less of as a place that still has certain diseases that are left way in the past in USA, such as tuberculosis, do still exist in other parts of the world, like Russia. Before you plan any trip, including an exotic destination, learn how safe your destination is. And if you have friends in the country you are visiting, ask them if they’d know of any spread-outs of any diseases that you should be considering getting vaccinated for. In addition to checking the health conditions of the country of your visit, see if there are any preventive reports that also cover the issues of possible earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and etc. For example, the American magazine "Foreign Policy" has published the rating of the five healthiest countries and explained its choice.

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