An important and often overlooked part of travel preparation is to review the local laws of your destination. When you travel to a different country, you are subject to that country's laws. Even if you unknowingly break those laws, you may be held responsible and pay the penalties.
Review Country Specific Information provided by the U.S. Department of State prior to traveling. If you get into legal trouble abroad, contact your U.S. embassy for assistance. DAN Members can also activate their travel assistance services (free with DAN Boater Membership), which provides legal referrals, legal assistance and bail advances when traveling away from home.
Prescription medications are important to review prior to traveling to across borders. Make sure your prescription is not prohibited in your destination or any countries you may travel through along the way. You can consult with the destination country's embassy about any steps you'll need to take ahead of time. You may need to get approval for your medication, which can take several weeks. Pack a copy of all of your prescriptions and carry a signed letter from your prescribing physician for any controlled substance or injectable medications. Any medications that you pack should be carried in their original containers.
Weapon laws vary widely between countries. It is best to avoid carrying any weapons. Even small knives can carry big penalties in certain countries.
Driving permits and laws are also important to review. Make sure you are familiar with the local laws and road signs and that you have the proper documentation to operate a vehicle in your destination country.
When it comes to political activities and demonstrations abroad, it's best to steer clear. Political rights vary in countries and demonstrations may not be legal or could turn violent.
In some countries, exceeding your credit limit is a punishable offense. So keep a keen eye on your financials during your travels; if your card is stolen, report it as soon as possible.
As a tourist, you may not think twice about where you are taking a snapshot or shooting a video, but some countries have laws about what can and cannot be photographed, such as government buildings. Make sure you know what is off limits. When in doubt, ask before you take a picture.
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