Some Tips for Travellers Health issues, extreme weather, crime and political unrest are all issues travellers may face. Should this deter you from heading off to an exotic location? Not if you're informed and prepared. Health Protection You should understand what risks you might face abroad and how to prevent them. Many illnesses, such as Hepatitis B and Yellow Fever, require a vaccination. Others, like malaria, require preventative medications instead. A bottle of bug repellant and a mosquito net will guard against insect borne illnesses like dengue fever. Check out the Center for Disease Control's website and visit a travel clinic for expert advice on the risks and prevention. Some vaccinations require a course of six to eight weeks, so plan well in advance. Another thing to watch out for is what you eat and drink. When in doubt, stick to sealed drinks such as bottled water or soft drinks (without ice), and eat food that is well cooked. Fresh food at markets can be tempting, but questionable. You might want to have a favourite stomach remedy on hand before trying local delicacies. Safety First The summer time has seen a lot of precarious situations: wild fires, killer heat waves, hurricanes, political unrest and transportation strikes. You can't always predict when something will happen, but you can reduce the risk of it affecting you. For instance, hurricanes are more likely to occur in September, some countries such as Indonesia are more prone to earthquakes, and political unrest can occur around national holidays and elections. The Australian, Canadian, US, UK and New Zealand governments all issue travel advice ranging from general information (such as travel tips and checklists) to country and region-specific travel reports. You can find information about known risks and climate, as well as entry requirements and embassy contact information. Some countries that you may think are dangerous actually pose little risk or there may be others with hidden dangers you want to avoid. Crime Prevention Unfortunately, tourists are popular targets for crime because they are perceived as wealthy and are often more relaxed and less vigilant about their personal safety. Worse yet, they are in unfamiliar circumstances and can fall prey to popular scams. Plan for personal security before you go. Ask yourself: How can I keep my travel documents and money safe from theft? What known crime risks are there for my destination? How can I avoid scams? While the risk for crime is higher in some countries than others, a good rule of thumb is to practice the same level of security as you would in any large urban city -- such as not walking alone at night, locking up your valuables and taking measures to prevent petty crime. Don't forget that cruise ships and resorts are prone to many of the same security problems as a city. Culture and Language Learning about new cultures is part of the fun of travel, but a sound knowledge of local laws and customs can actually prevent trouble and even keep you out of jail. Criticizing the government, royal family or religion could lead to arrest and a trial. A misinterpreted gesture could provoke a fight. Even something as seemingly minor as showing the bottoms of your feet could be highly offensive. In this case, a guidebook is worth the investment since it allows you to take the information with you for reference. If you're not sure what clothing to pack, leave a little room in your budget to purchase some items on the road. When in doubt, follow the examples of locals when it comes to dress and proper conduct. Emergency Plan Even the most prepared travellers can experience problems such as having to replace a lost passport or find help when a natural disaster hits. Whether you need advice on how to handle a situation or need to report a problem, you should have these phone numbers on hand: * Your embassy's emergency hotline * Local police (or tourist police) * Your travel service provider * Your travel insurance provider * Roadside assistance (if you plan to drive) Your family or friends at home should also have a copy of your itinerary, contact information and passport information in case they need to assist you. Cover all your bases When it comes to pre-trip research, go for balance. Temper commercial travel information with governmental travel safety advice. Browse online reviews and forums, but also look for credible and reviewed resources such as the World Heath Organization or Tropical Storm Risk. A little know-how can save you a lot of time and hassle when you're far from home.