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Preparing to travel

If you’re going to Ireland this summer, remember that it is illegal to go fishing on Sundays.

If you’ll be in Canada, keep in mind that it is illegal to publicly remove a bandage.

In Italy, you should know that a man can be arrested for wearing a skirt.

Whether traveling to Austria or to Zimbabwe, there are many things you should remember when crossing international borders.

Jim Pulos, assistant director for USF Study Abroad and Exchanges, said international travelers should know basic laws, such as drinking ages and proper behavior when entering another country.

This summer, between 300 and 350 USF students will participate in the university’s study abroad and exchange programs.

“It is important to familiarize yourself with the cultural customs of the country you’re visiting,” Pulos said.

Language skills are a definite plus, Pulos said. He said travelers should know how to say basic phrases in the country’s native language in case they get lost. Pulos also said language skills are useful simply for the sake of politeness.

While international laws vary from country to country, there is one thing students should remember everywhere they go. A valid passport is the key to entering and leaving almost every country in the world.

“Guard your passport very securely, and always make several copies of it,” he said.

Pulos said one copy of your passport should be left at home with someone who can fax it to you if there is any trouble in another country. Another copy of the passport should be left in the suitcase because even if some baggage gets lost or stolen, it is highly unlikely that everything will go missing.

He also said to make copies of any type of financial assets you may take with you because they are easier to replace if they get stolen.

“Have a combination of accesses to your money,” he said. “If you have an ATM card, make sure that it works overseas, and remember that traveler’s checks are a good backup.”

Pulos recommended always having phone numbers of the American embassy or consulate in the designated country. He said that these numbers might come in handy in case anything were to happen.

He said to always carry prescription medicines in their original container, and before leaving the United States, ask your doctor to write extra prescriptions, if needed, or photocopy existing prescriptions in case you must see a doctor in another country. Also, always have travel insurance, which can be purchased through your travel agency, Pulos said.

Another recommendation Pulos gave was to always have a basic outline of things that you want to do and see while in another country. He said travel guides, such as the Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, will tell you everything you should know about a country before you visit it. He said the travel guides give examples of places to go and places to avoid in your destination.

Regarding visas, Pulos said most countries allow visitors from the United States in their country for a period of one to three months. If you plan to work or go to school outside the United States, there are appropriate visas that vary from country to country.

“If you’re ever uncertain, call the consular general’s office,” he said.

Scott Grizzard, travel advisor for STA Travel at USF, also offered some advice for summer travelers

Grizzard said for the best deal, a person should remember to book travel early. He recommended booking through a travel agency to avoid confusion about services once you get to your desired location.

He said it was important to remember to pack light.

“Take half the amount of clothes you think you’ll need and twice the money you think you’ll want,” he said. “You can do laundry on location.”

Students traveling overseas should always purchase an International Student Identity Card, available through STA, Grizzard said. The card, which costs $23, allows for cheaper airfare and basic insurance coverage and also offers discounts at some youth hostels in various countries around the world. The International Teacher Identity Card is available for full-time faculty who are traveling to another country, Grizzard added.

He said additional insurance is also a good idea, especially when visiting underdeveloped countries. Insurance may be expensive, but he said it is more important to keep in mind the costs if you don’t have insurance.

“Don’t expect U.S. standards in a country that isn’t the United States,” he said. “Be open-minded and open-hearted and you’ll have fun, even in third- world lines.”

Contact Whitney Meersat