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Tip: English is a widely-spoken language. Even if those standing around you are speaking in French, German, Norwegian or perhaps another dialect , this does not mean that they cannot or do not understand English, as many in foreign countries do speak English as a second language. One of the things that give American tourists such a bad name is our continual affinity for complaining and taking issue with the way things are done in other countries



(DWI) Drinking & Driving in a Foreign Country


Beware; Your driving while intoxicated in a foreign country can end up with you being in their penal system for years, or worse!

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)The illegal BAC level has been found to have an effect on impaired driving crashes”.

0.08 = UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta (same as the United States)
0.05 = Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain
0.04 = Lithuania
0.02 = Norway, Poland, Sweden
Zero tolerance = Estonia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary

In the United States, the punishment a person receives for drinking and driving is contingent on several factors, including which State the offense occurred. Fortunately all 50 states have two statutory offenses - driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level of at least .08 - some states charge people for driving with a blood alcohol level of .05. Some states also make it illegal to have open containers in an automobile, where some do not. Most US states take into account the level of intoxication as well as the number of offenses. Based on these factors, some people do jail time, some people lose their license, and some people get off with a fine, and most unfortunately, many DWI’s are multiple repeaters and all too often, end in the death of innocent victims. The U.S. Court system is very weak when it comes to dealing with drunks.

Other countries have different laws than the US. Some are more lenient, and some are really extreme. For instance in Australia, the blood alcohol content is .05, and lower (.02) for those with learner's permits or new drivers. The punishment for drinking and driving in Australia includes fines, suspension of license, imprisonment, and medical assessment before a driver's license is reinstated.

In France, drinking and driving is punishable by a huge fine, imprisonment for one year, and loss of license for three years. Finland and Sweden, along France's lines, also automatically sentence drunk drivers to one year jail sentences including hard labor. In Norway, a drunk driver is jailed for three weeks with hard labor and loses their license for a year. If they do it again, they lose their license forever. In South Africa, drinking and driving results in a ten year prison sentence or an extremely large fine and, in some cases, both.

In Canada, the first drinking and driving offense warrants loss of license for one year and a 500 plus dollars fine. The second offense warrants two weeks in jail and loss of license for two years. The third offense warrants three months in jail and loss of license for three years.

In England, a drunk driver pays a fine, spends a year in jail, and then loses their license for one year. In Russia, drunk drivers simply lose their license for life.

In certain countries, drinking and driving is punishable by death. A first time offense in El Salvador leads to execution by firing squad, while a second offense in Bulgaria also leads to execution



International Driving Permits


The International Driving Permit (IDP) is proof that you hold a valid driver's license in your own country. And it provides a translation into almost a dozen languages, mainly so that police and other authorities in other countries can read your license in their own language. It may not be absolutely necessary to have it, since many countries recognize each other's licenses, but traveling with an IDP has many advantages.

The permit is intended to overcome the difficulties drivers might have while traveling in other countries that may have widely varying licensing requirements. The IDP is a special license for tourists authorized by United Nations conventions on road, to date nearly 180 countries are signatories.

The IDP is printed in several languages-the five official UN languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese) plus German, Arabic, Italian, the Scandinavian languages, and Portuguese. It is valid in all the signatory countries. In addition, many other countries that did not sign the treaty recognize the permit and accept it in their territories.

An IDP is easy to obtain and does not require a driving test, and is available for a small fee. It is, in fact, an official translation of your domestic driver's license.


Applicants for an IDP must:

Be 18 or older,

Have a recognized driver's license,

Submit two passport-type photos, and

Make their application on an official form provided by the issuing authority.

An IDP cannot be post-dated, extended, or renewed, and is valid for only one year from the date of issue. Each time a new IDP is required, the driver must repeat the entire application procedure. The IDP must be applied for in the country of origin and cannot be used there in place of a regular driver's license.

  Once you arrive abroad, take public transportation or a cab until you feel familiar with the area and any unwritten rules of the road, and drive slowly and with a local (if at all possible) until you feel confident on your own.

Converting MPG to KMPL

Petro/Diesel Gallons to Liters

Convert miles per U.S. gallon to kilometers per liter by multiplying the number of mpg by 0.4251437. For instance, if you have a fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon, divide this number by .4251437 to get the efficiency of about 8.5 kilometers per liter.

Convert miles per imperial gallon to kilometers per liter by multiplying the efficiency by 0.354006. An Imperial gallon is larger than a U.S. gallon. If you have a fuel efficiency of 20 mpg and multiply it by .354006, you will get a fuel economy of about 7.08 kilometers per liter.

Convert from kilometers per liter to miles per U.S. gallon by multiplying the number of km/l by 2.352146. For instance, if you have an efficiency of 10 km/l and multiply this by 2.352146, you would have about 23.5 miles per U.S. gallon.

Convert kilometers per liter to miles per imperial gallon by taking the number of km/l and multiplying it by 2.82481. In the example, 10 KMPL would be the same as 28.2 mpg (imperial).



Travel Tip:  NEVER walk-about on a trip with a purse or wallet when traveling abroad. ALWAYS!" utilize a money belt". This is hid beneath your shirt/blouse (One can also used an old panty hose, simply put your money, credit card and passport inside it and wrap around your waist under loose fitting clothing)  comfortably holds your passport, cash and traveling credit card. NO EXCEPTIONS!


U.S. Passport (Obtaining)

All children regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must have their own passport

If under the age of 16, an applicant must complete Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. To submit Form DS-11, the minor:


Must apply in person with both parents/guardian(s)

Must provide the additional documentation required by Form DS-11

Must not sign the application until instructed to do so by the Acceptance Agent

Must provide his/her Social Security number



You must apply in person if:

You are applying for your first U.S. passport or You are under age 16 or

Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16 or

Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged or

Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago or

Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change


When applying for a U.S. passport in person, *evidence of U.S. citizenship must be submitted with Form DS-11. All documentation submitted as citizenship evidence will be returned to you. These documents will be delivered with your newly issued U.S. passport or in a separate mailing.

PASSPORT PHOTOS - applicant must submit two identical passport photos (2" X 2"), Photos must have a white background.

*Primary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship (One of the following):

Previously issued, undamaged U.S. Passport

Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state

Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth

Naturalization Certificate

Certificate of Citizenship


Travel Tip: When traveling, don’t wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and DO NOT carry excessive amounts of money.


Passport (Reporting lost or stolen)


If you lose or have your passport stolen while traveling overseas it could become a nightmare, unless you have prepared for it. The first thing to do is report it lost or stolen to the local Police station, as well as the U.S. Embassy or American Citizens Services unit of the Consular Section. Should you be in the U.S. call the toll free telephone number 1-877-487-2778, keeping in mind that they are only open Monday-Friday ET 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., excluding Federal Holidays.

To somewhat alleviate a very serious situation, prior to your leaving on your foreign holiday make two copies (scan, photo copy, or install on a USB stick, and include a copy of your driver's license, and birth certificate) of your passport in-total, this means from the front cover to the back cover and Everything” in between. Also Place a copy of it in your luggage for safe keeping, and give the second copy to a close friend or relative for safe keeping, just in case a lost or Passport theft occurs. Having the copy can speed up the process of your acquiring another Passport, and it can be sent as an email attachment to your country’s embassy or by Overnight express.

If you are notified by a relative or friend that their U.S. passport has been lost/stolen, you may wish to contact Overseas Citizens Services , (202) 647-5225 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. providing as much information about possible about the person's who needs passport services abroad. This will assist us in trying to verify the person's previous passport, clearing the person's name through the Department Passport Name Check System, and relaying this information to the U.S. embassy or consulate. Your relative/friend must apply for a new passport at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you are not applying for a replacement passport, but wish to report the loss or theft of your U.S. passport, submit Form DS-64 to: U.S. Department of State
           Passport Services
           Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
           1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
           Washington, DC 20036

·         The information you provide on Form DS-64: Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen
will be entered in the Consular Lost/Stolen Passport System.

·         If you recover the passport after you have reported it lost or stolen, submit it to
the address listed above. When you submit it, if requested - they will cancel it and return
it to you. If not requested, it will be destroyed.

   New travel document requirements:

Effective June 1, 2009 International travelers returning to the U.S. must meet new identification requirements. There are different types of required identification depending on whether one is traveling by air, land or sea.

·         Passports are the only acceptable ID for entering the U.S. by air, but are also accepted for entry by land or sea. The adult U.S. Passport is valid for 10 years and for children under the age of 16, the passport is valid for only five years.

·         Passport cards have limited use and are intended only for entry to the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. The card is not valid for international air travel.

·         Enhanced driver’s licenses are available in a few Border States, and are intended for cross-border travel by land and sea, and are issued by participating states.

·         FAST, NEXUS and SENTRI cards are issued by the U.S. Customs and order Protection. This ID expedites pre-approved travel to and from the U.S. and Canada or Mexico through dedicated lanes for frequent travelers. These cards are presently valid for five years.

U.S. passports are not routinely issued by U.S. embassies and consulates abroad on weekends and holidays when the embassy/consulate is closed. All U.S. embassies and consulates have an after-hours duty officer available to assist with life or death emergencies of U.S. citizens abroad. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate after-hours duty officer for assistance if you have an emergency need to travel. Phone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates are also available in our Country Specific Information and Key Officers handbook.

If you are scheduled to travel directly to the United States, the duty officer may be able to assist in issuing a transportation letter to the airline and alerting U.S. Customs and Immigration to the fact that you will be attempting to enter the United States without a passport.

Duty officers must focus primary attention on life or death emergencies. Depending on the circumstances and conditions in the foreign country, it is possible that a replacement passport may not be issued until the embassy/consulate reopens for business. At that time the Consular Section will be in a better position to verify your citizenship and identity and clear your name through the Department of State name check system.





Family togetherness Tip: A wonderful and very affordable family vacation is as near as the museum of natural history or at the observatory. Every member of the family will wonder at what there is to see, a visit that is one of life's real memories, as well as incredibly interesting.




Tips & Suggestions

  • Utilize phone cards, and the use of computer stores on your trip to take care of business. It will save you time, money and additional luggage.
  • Ship all of your purchases. It will save on airport weight restrictions, and make the trip easier and will arrive a few days after you return home.
  • When it’s time to ready for your return, be sure to convert your currency coins, which aren’t exchangeable on the shores of your own country.
  • Make sure your credit card has the lowest fee for international use, as this can increase the charge considerably.
  • Pay attention to charges on your bill that represent two currencies for the same thing, as some locals have taken advantage of travelers’ ignorance on currency exchange rates.





Sign your Passport, and fill in emergency information on it: Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required.

Register so the U.S. State Department can better assist you in an emergency:  It is a free On-line service

U.S. State Department

  Travel Warnings

Travel Insurance: Never travel without Travelers Insurance. Make certain that is effective for the entire duration of the trip, plus a week, just in case you don't get home on your original traveling time table.

Travel Tip: Throughout Europe, you can drink the water; it is safe from contaminants, although bottled water is usually the preferred drink for travelers.

Family Togetherness Tip: If you are strapped for money and cannot afford a vacation, simply get outside with your family, take a hike, go on a picnic, or visit the local mountains, the zoo, lake or the sea. You will be really surprised how fun it will be. These are cherished memories for your family, as a family.








Vehicle accidents are the #1 cause of non-natural death for Americans traveling overseas, according to the State Department more than 200 U.S citizens abroad die in road crashes, more than homicides, drowning, and airplane crashes combined. Road travel is particularly dangerous in developing countries, where there has been a recent explosion in the numbers of cars - and inexperienced drivers negotiating streets built for bicycle, push carts and oxcart traffic. The World Health Organization estimates that 90 percent of the entire world's traffic deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (where the majority of the world's population resides).


FYI Toll Roads

If you're going to be driving in Europe, you should be aware that you'll need to pay a toll to use many of the motorways. The French motorways (autoroutes) and Italian motorways (autostrade) can be relatively expensive, while the Spanish toll roads (autopista) are usually about half the cost. Make sure that you have enough money for your trip; although most toll booths will take credit cards, it's usually best to take enough cash just in case. You'll also need to remember that the pay booths will be on the left hand side of your car, which means that you may have to get out to pay, if you don't have a passenger who can do it for you.



Travel Tip: Travel lightly, if you don't, you'll be Sorry!  Do not carry any papers, money or credit cards in your luggage, unless they are copies of your credit card number and trip itinerary.


Travel Tip: Be Courteous, you are a visitor in the host Country. Obey their laws, as they usually play hardball with visitors who don't! If in trouble-contact your embassy, ASAP.

Travel Insurance


Typically travel insurance for the duration of a journey costs approximately 5-7% of the cost of the trip.


Insurance that is intended to cover medical expenses and financial (such as money invested in nonrefundable pre-payments) and other losses incurred while traveling, either within one's own country, or internationally.

Temporary travel insurance can usually be arranged at the time of the booking of a trip to cover exactly the duration of that trip, or a more extensive, continuous insurance can be purchased from travel insurance companies, travel agents or directly from travel suppliers such as cruise lines or tour operators. However, travel insurance purchased from travel suppliers tends to be less inclusive than insurance offered by insurance companies.

Travel insurance often offers coverage for a variety of travelers. Student travel, business travel, leisure travel, adventure travel, cruise travel, and international travel are all various options that can be insured.

The most common risks that are covered by travel insurance are:

  • Medical expenses
  • Emergency evacuation/repatriation
  • Overseas funeral expenses
  • Accidental death, injury or disablement benefit
  • Cancellation
  • Curtailment
  • Delayed departure
  • Loss, theft or damage to personal possessions and money (including travel documents)
  • Delayed baggage (and emergency replacement of essential items)
  • Legal assistance
  • Personal liability and rental car damage excess

Some travel policies will also provide cover for additional costs, although these vary widely between providers.

In addition, often separate insurance can be purchased for specific costs such as:

  • pre-existing medical conditions  
  • sports with an element of risk
  • travel to high risk countries

Common Exclusions:

  • pre-existing medical conditions
  • war or terrorism - but some plans may cover this risk
  • injury or illness caused by alcohol or drug use

Some additional advantages:

·         Bankruptcy of a supplier. Travel insurance will protect you from loss due to bankruptcy if you are renting vacation accommodations through an agent but not if you are dealing with an owner renting the accommodations to you directly.

·         Health-related problems. If you have to cancel because of some illness of yours or an immediate family member or because of one of the other designated “causes for cancellation” that are spelled out in a travel insurance policy, you will be covered for your loss. (That is, you will be covered if you do not run afoul of a preexisting-condition clause. Pre-existing-condition clauses are generally waived only if the insurance is purchased in a specific period, typically within 14 days of the first deposit on a trip.)





Travel Registration

Registration at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (in the country you are visiting) makes your presence and whereabouts known, in case it is necessary for a consular officer to contact you in an emergency. During a disaster overseas, American consular officers can assist in evacuation were that to become necessary. But they cannot assist you if they do not know where you are.

Registration is particularly important for those who plan to stay in a country longer than one month, or who will travel to:
*A country that is experiencing civil unrest, has an unstable political climate, or is undergoing a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane.
*A country where there are no U.S. officials. In such cases, you should register at the U.S. embassy or consulate in an adjacent country, leave an itinerary with the Consular Section, ask about conditions in the country that you will visit and ask about the third country that may represent U.S. interests there.

If you are traveling with an escorted tour to areas experiencing political uncertainty or other problems, find out if your tour operator is registering your trip through the State Department’s travel registration website.  If it is not, or if you are traveling on your own, you can still register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website.

If you would like to contact an embassy or consulate directly please click here



Emergency Tip: Leave copies of your travel itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of emergency.

Tourist Food Tip: Thoroughly cooked food is safest, but not if it has been left to cool or if it has been reheated. Use caution and common sense when traveling, for food poisoning can ruin a holiday.




In general, to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition.  

After the immigrant petition has been approved (*excluding DV applicants) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), then the next step is preliminary processing for a visa with the Department of State, National Visa Center. Affidavit of Support

·         Required applicant documents (i.e. birth certificates, police reports, marriage/divorce certificates, etc.)

·         Medical Exam/Panel physician information

·         Interviews


Traveling to the U.S., a citizen of a foreign country must generally obtain a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you will need is based on the purpose of your travel.


A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States (U.S.) generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. (U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad one may need a visa issued by the country they wish to visit.)

Having a U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the U.S. While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S, it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose. DHS/CBP inspectors, guardians of the nation’s borders, are responsible for admission of travelers to the U.S., for a specified status and period of time DHS also has responsibility for immigration matters while you are present in the U.S.

The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. There are two main categories of U.S. visas:

·         Nonimmigrant visas – For travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis. Learn more.

·         Immigrant visas – For travel to live permanently in the U.S. Learn more.

* Diversity Visa Program - Visas provided are drawn from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Unlike other immigrant types, Diversity Visas (DV) do not require a U.S. sponsor, and therefore a petition is not needed.




Luggage Tip: Minimize your luggage. You are traveling for to see many sights and enjoy them. Lugging luggage is a real drag on your enjoyment. At the most take a small piece of luggage with wheels, one that fit in the overhead of planes and trains, one that also can be used as a backpack. Also carry a light weight shoulder pack, one you can utilize for day trips. As to toiletries, begin your trip with the necessities, the remainder are usually easily obtainable throughout the world.

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