Plan Well for Your Travel Abroad
By “Awake!” correspondent in the Federal Republic of Germany
“HELLO. Your passport, please. Would you open your luggage, please? Do you have anything to declare?”
If you have ever been a part of that huge friendly army of people that annually floods across borders in cars, buses, trains and, in ever-increasing numbers, in planes, then these requests and questions certainly will be nothing new to you.
The renowned traveler Marco Polo as well as Alexander von Humboldt, a noted German naturalist and traveler of the 18th and 19th centuries, would turn green with envy could they see the distances tourists travel nowadays and how quickly they flit from continent to continent by jet airplanes.
In recent years German vacationers have greatly swelled the ranks of international travelers. The favorable exchange rate of the German mark has encouraged this development. Each year hundreds of millions of D-marks flow into tourism’s coffers. This business of “faraway places” is booming. Ever more Europeans are spending their supposedly “most precious weeks of the year” in exotic lands and on southern beaches. Nearly 60 percent of all 1976 vacationers from the Federal Republic of Germany traveled abroad, the majority of them to the sunshine countries of the Mediterranean. In the same year they spent approximately 22,540,000,000 D-marks.
But relaxation is not the only reason to travel abroad. Several thousand of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Germany and other German-speaking countries in Europe will soon be traveling abroad for another reason, namely, to attend international assemblies that are being held in the winter of 1978/79 in the southern hemisphere.
Not every trip proves to be successful, nor does every expectation go fulfilled. This is especially true if proper preparation for the trip is not made. A trip to a foreign country can be an unforgettable experience. But you can also squander precious time and hard-earned money if you are careless about preparing properly for your “trip into adventure.”
A travel agency can assist you, but it cannot do everything. For example, it can provide you with a guidebook, but it cannot provide you with a knowledge of the language. Nor can it make you adept in handling pesetas, lire, escudos, crowns, francs, pounds or dollars. Many difficulties can be avoided by your taking time to acquaint yourself with the land of your dreams, with its inhabitants and their customs.
Climatic Difference and Time Changes
Everyone who purposes to visit a country with an unfamiliar climate must realize that his general condition, his capacity for work and also his mood will be influenced. Nor may one overlook the effect of time changes on the body in long-distance flying.
The numerous processes of the human body are patterned on a day-night rhythm dependent on an inner biological clock. It should not be difficult to understand that changing one’s location quickly in either direction, west or east, tends to disturb this rhythm. On an intercontinental flight from Frankfurt to New York there is normally a time difference of six hours, and on a jet trip to Sydney, Australia, the difference is nine hours. How confusing when on arrival your already strenuous day of travel suddenly becomes six, eight or even more hours longer. Since the human body can only compensate (some say) for a two-hour difference a day, you can easily figure out how long it will take your inner clock to become properly regulated again. After your return home the entire procedure will take place again in reverse.
If you are dependent upon certain medication (for example, insulin or blood-thinning medicines) you must give particular attention to the conditioning factors of time difference. Discuss your travel plans with your doctor. He will be able to give you good advice. Other information can be obtained from the book entitled “Ärztlicher Ratgeber für Flugreisende” (Medical Counselor for Plane Passengers [in German only]) by Dr. H. Baark, who discusses these problems thoroughly in a chapter called “The Proper Time for Taking Medicines in Intercontinental Flight.”
Health Takes Precedence
You may feel “fit as a fiddle” and have no thought of getting sick on your trip. But since you can never rule out the possibility, take reasonable precautions to keep the risk at a minimum. An upset stomach or digestive system can certainly dampen your joy while you are traveling.
An article by Dr. P. Wright, “Traveling in Good Health,” appearing in the Reader’s Digest, issue of June 1968, had the following to say about this complex subject: “99 percent of the cases of diarrhea are caused by water or food contaminated by bacteria, protozoa or viruses. Most hotels will serve bottled water on request. . . . Avoid putting ice in your drinks. . . . Also, use only safe water for brushing your teeth.”
Don’t take it for granted that health regulations in all places will meet up to the standards of your own country. In the Mediterranean area, the Near East, in tropical and subtropical countries, it is imperative to exercise caution when enjoying the customary dishes of the country. Don’t be too generous in “surprising” your digestive system. Avoid salads and raw vegetables, as well as raw meat, if possible. Forgo tasty treats made from milk or cream products if there is any doubt that they have been stored or cooled properly.
Tips for Hot Countries
Remember that when visiting hot countries you can do yourself much harm by being careless. For example, if you leave a European winter in January or February and arrive in the midst of a South American summer, be especially careful. Otherwise the change may be so sudden that, paradoxical as it may sound, your stay in the tropics may well begin with a bad case of the sniffles. Enjoy the sun in small doses, at least until your body has adjusted. If you perspire a great deal, do not neglect to eat enough salt with your meals. Also remember the increased risk of skin infection in hot countries.
In tropical lands your clothing should be of absorbent materials. This should especially be true of underwear. Also shirts, blouses or dresses should not hinder perspiration. Cottons and linens are the best. If possible, change underwear twice a day and make sure that your other clothing is comfortable, lightweight and easily washable. If at all possible wear shoes with leather soles and do not forget to take along a wide-brimmed hat.
Get Adjusted for Your Trip
Along with other essential things in planning a trip, do not forget mental preparation. Make sure your “luggage” contains a healthy amount of balance and anticipation of unforeseen occurrences. Don’t let your joy be dampened by unexpected incidents like, for example, a delay or a security check. Don’t get irritated when things do not go as planned. “A person travels, not to get where he is going, but just to travel,” is a sensible German adage. Oftentimes it is just those very “mishaps” that you have during vacation that turn out to be the nicest experiences! You talk about them for years thereafter and never tire of laughing at them over and over again.
The Hamburger Abendblatt of April 15, 1976, gave this good advice: “Germans [and this applies to all travelers] when on business or pleasure trips should show more understanding for the customs and habits of the people in other countries.” Certainly you will want to do that. Always be friendly and polite. Adjust to the way of thinking of the native population, be carefully observant, listen attentively and, most assuredly, you will be richly rewarded. Spiritual blessings will also come your way if you attend one or more of the many international assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A hectic chase of aimless sight-seeing will not be enjoyable. A well-planned trip, on the other hand, will provide you with much pleasure, and afterward you will be able to look back on a really successful trip abroad.
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Make your trip abroad a success by:
Checking your passport to see that it is up-to-date. (If visas are necessary, observe carefully all regulations and deadlines.)
Observing carefully the customs regulations (especially the limit on duty-free wares and the various import and export restrictions).
Taking into consideration foreign currency laws (for example, limits or prohibitions on bringing money into the country).
Observing for your own benefit health regulations and advice (smallpox, cholera and yellow-fever vaccinations and preventive medicine against malaria and typhoid).
Taking out necessary travel insurance (health insurance in a foreign country, luggage insurance).
Placing, inside all your luggage, a slip of paper with your name and home address written plainly on it.