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Happy honeymoon: tips for stress-free travel abroad

But as vacation and business travel rebounds, concern about stress continues to be a problem.

“Since September 11, we are getting numerous calls asking for tips on how to relieve stress while traveling abroad,” said Myles Druckman, medical director of International SOS, the world’s largest and leading provider of medical and security assistance.

“The key is being well-prepared for your trip by becoming as knowledgeable as possible about your destination,” Druckman said. “Follow the news on important events that may affect your trip. Learn what is going on in the country you plan to visit.”

At the most basic level, Druckman advises that you acknowledge that travel, especially abroad, is inherently stressful, even on a pleasure trip. You’re out of your element and routine; you may have to deal with a foreign language. While this is exciting, it naturally takes extra attention and energy.

Here are several tips that can help:

1. Knowledge is power. Do some research on the places you plan to visit so you will know what to expect. This will help eliminate the anxiety of “what-if” running through your head.

2. Rest up before you go — you’ll enjoy your trip more and worry less if you are well rested and energetic. If flying long distances, you might want to stop over for a night or two along the way.

3. Before you go, make a copy of the opening page of your passport and other important travel documents and keep them separate from the actual documents when you travel. Then you won’t panic if those documents are lost or stolen.

4. Learn basic phrases of the local language — you’ll feel more in control.

5. Stay connected to friends and family through periodic e-mails or telephone calls — it will help keep you from feeling isolated. Make certain to provide them with your itinerary with contact numbers at the hotels where you’ll be staying. You should also bring your cellular phone or purchase a satellite phone just in case.

6. If music relaxes you, make certain that you take your favorite CD’s or tapes along — you may not be able to find your favorite titles or artists overseas. Bring along a transistor radio so you can listen to the BBC or other English language stations.

7. Learn some deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques that are easy to do.

8. Exercising can also help you relax. Before booking your hotels, find out what facilities or access to health clubs they have. If you prefer, there are exercises that can be done on the floor in your hotel room. Consider bringing along a jump rope or other easy-to-pack exercise product.

9. Try to blend in — avoid wearing obvious U.S. symbols such as U.S. team sports shirts. Sample the local culture and take note of and follow local customs, so you won’t feel like you’re sticking out from the crowd.

10. Make sure you have a resource for medical and personal safety assistance lined up, such as SOS Global Traveler assistance services, which provide telephone access 24/7 to Western doctors. That way should you need help, you’ll always know who to call.

International SOS provides emergency assistance services around the world including medical evacuation and repatriation and access to SOS doctors for advice and help. It provides services to 60 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies and performs more than 12,000 evacuation cases per year (that’s more than one an hour, every hour, somewhere in the world).

Membership can be purchased for short-term trips or annual plans. A Members Only portal on the International SOS Web site provides travel health and safety information you can use to prepare for your trip. Memberships range from $55 for a 10-day medical membership for an individual traveler to $225 for an annual membership. You can purchase SOS membership through your travel agent, by visiting SOS online at www.internationalsos.com or calling 800-523-8662.

- Courtesy of ARA Content

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