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#277895 - 12/08/15 03:59 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Great advice in this thread. Here's what I did last time:
  • Preloaded my iPhone with maps that didn't depend on a data connection, and those maps having important locations (my hotel, the office where I was working, US embassy and consulate) marked
  • Arranged for a local cellphone
  • Let my credit card issuers know the dates of my overseas travel
  • Researched the best way to obtain local currency and how commonly US dollars are accepted in its place
  • Bought a money belt and put five hundred dollar bills in it for emergencies
  • Bought a hidden passport wallet and wore my passport everywhere I went
  • Took a picture of the photo page of my passport and made sure I could get it from my personal email account or from my phone
  • Talked with my coworkers who live in that country before arriving and during my stay regarding safety issues
  • Had my corporate and legal travel permissions in order
  • Enrolled in STEP

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#277903 - 12/09/15 03:08 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
To add a few minor tips: Switzerland is one of the safest countries on Earth, everything is very expensive indeed (downright exorbitant at times) but other than that, you really shouldn't expect any difficulty.

France is a little different. The countryside is generally very pleasant and charming, but Paris (and several other major cities) can be a little stressful at first. The current security level in Paris is very high, so this might be one of the safest times to visit actually.

Nonetheless, street crime in Paris is a fairly serious problem by European standards. Not just in the suburbs, even downtown. I was nearly mugged once in broad daylight on a major avenue near Bastille and had several other unpleasant experiences elsewhere (particularly at Gare du Nord). So it's best to stay sharp and avoid wandering around at night on your own unless you know exactly what you're doing.

You may carry a non-locking folding knife with a reasonably small blade (3" or less IIRC) without any undue concern. Just don't flash it in public places. Carrying a folding knife in a bag rather than in a pocket/ready for instant deployment is a good idea, could save you some trouble. Either way, you may expect some leeway as a foreign tourist as long as you behave yourself.

If by some chance you find yourself in any kind of situation involving the French police do exactly as you're told, without the slightest hesitation or resistance. Keep in mind that the French legislation is very strict in some respects and the police has a lot of authority compared to many other Western countries. Any attempt whatsoever to resist or disobey an LEO will get you in a world of trouble fast.

As far as SW radio, I don't think it's needed other than for purely personal enjoyment (if that's your kind of thing). Both Switzerland and France have excellent infrastructure and access to information is going to be easily available, particularly in the urban areas.

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#277904 - 12/09/15 03:30 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
Bingley - I forgot to tell you the most important advice.
It is very possible that your normal medical insurance will cover you during travel to Europe. Many people travel to Europe and I have never heard of any problems.

But if you want some extra coverage, the best travel insurance I have ever found is "TRAVMED" insurance. I will try and find the link for you. It's not expensive, and it covers a lot of situations. I always get a TravMed policy when I am going overseas.

Also, if you are going to Europe - it is guaranteed that the electric supply (voltage) and the plugs for the electrical connections will be different than the American plugs. This is always a nuisance. There is a store online that sells adapters, so you can plug in an American appliance anywhere in the world. I will find the link and send it to you. If you only need to charge a cell phone, you can buy a plug-in USB charger in Switzerland. But if you need to charge your laptop, you will need an adapter.

cheers,
Pete


Edited by Pete (12/09/15 03:34 PM)

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#277921 - 12/10/15 06:45 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Thanks for all the input!

My current insurance covers international travel, and it even has providers in the city I'm going to, so I think I should be OK. I got a voltage converter and plug converter, and since we're all gadget guys, I wouldn't mind seeing Pete's recommendations.

It sounds like people here carry their passports with them all the time when traveling abroad. So do you buy into the RFID protection thing? How big of a risk is identity theft (or anything else) from RFID, and do pouches come equipped with proper protection? (I'm guessing a conductor-lined bag will provide the Faraday cage necessary to prevent transmission.)

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#277922 - 12/10/15 07:25 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
US passports are supposedly protected against RFID skimming when closed. I bought a passport wallet with RFID protection anyway. It was too cheap to not do it and I didn't want to invest the time and effort to build an RFID pentesting lab.

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#277923 - 12/10/15 07:47 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 831
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
I also use a Passport RF protective sleeve when I travel; it does not have to be expensive or fancy. Here is what I use: http://www.amazon.com/Blocking-Passport-...rfid+protection

And I do carry my passport at all times. It is just not something you want to be without.
_________________________
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#277925 - 12/10/15 10:27 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Wow, bw48, there are RFID sleeves for credit cards? Just how many RFID scanning thieves do we have? Is it common practice to protect your credit cards with such sleeves in Europe?

Maybe I can make my own with tinfoil. After all, I made a wonderful hat.

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#277926 - 12/10/15 10:50 PM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 831
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
I am not sure the credit card sleeves are required with the new generation of chipped cards. Some of the older cards had true RFID chips that could be easily read from a distance. I have not been able to find a definitive answer about the risks from the present generation of chipped cards, but I figured why take a chance. My bank has the sleeves available if you ask for them, so I think there is a risk, however small it may be.

As a general rule, although chip and pin cards are better than swiped cards, they are still fairly vulnerable to hacking/fraud. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks0SOn8hjG8
_________________________
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#277929 - 12/11/15 01:07 AM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
I'm not aware of any current-issue US credit cards with RFID chips. I don't know of any way to remotely read electronic data from such a card from more than at most a few inches away.

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#277930 - 12/11/15 01:21 AM Re: Prepping for international travel? [Re: Bingley]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
It might be nice to use your US cell phone overseas but I have never done so, and tend to purchase a new cheap cell phone in destinations right at the airport on the way to the hotel. A few Euros and then fees for time and data get you online quick enough. You may actually need a new cell or a new SIM one for Switzerland and one for France, don't know. A local phone will also give you a fresh phone number to share out while you are travelling in country.

I have enjoyed travelling with a tablet device for email access and Skype conversations, a Surface which will connect via Wifi, no data plan necessary. Good also for playing music and movies that I take along, as US subscription services aren't generally accessible from overseas.

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