QUIRKS & CUSTOMS FOR TRAVEL

Know that immigration stamps from some countries are taboo. If you’re American, you don’t want a Cuban stamp in your passport; if you’re entering Israel, Palestinian stamps are frowned upon. In Saudi Arabia, pornography is prohibited and in Morocco, Maps that show the northern part of their country belonging to Spain are taboo.

Some visas can be bought upon arrival while others must be purchased in advance. Several countries require exit duties to be paid, so ask if it’s included in the price of your ticket.

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Be extra vigilant if you’re planning a trip without the aid of a travel agent and changing planes in a different country enroute to your final destination. You may be fine to fly to Thailand without a visa, but one might be required for a lengthy station-stop in Hong Kong.

There’s a simple way to remember the difference between these two agencies -Immigration officers want to know about you; Customs officers want to know about your bags.

I had to spend $150 for an entry visa to Chile a few years back. It was costly, but valid for unlimited entry during the life of the passport. Unfortunately, my passport expired eight months later.

Back in the day, before the proliferation of rechargeable paraphernalia like cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 and DVD players, or grooming appliances like hair dryers and flatirons, voltage wasn’t much of an issue. Every hotel had a bathroom outlet for electric razors used by the predominantly male business traveller. When I first started flying, hotels didn’t even carry skirt hangers. Now, knowledge of voltage, outlets and plugs should be a consideration, unless you want to end up photographing the trip of a lifetime with a disposable camera.

Check online or in a guideblog to see if you need adapters at your destination. You can always buy them once you arrive, but packing them is easier than spending the first day of vacation learning the local lingo for “voltage adapter plug.”

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