The Clever Travel Companion Updates

How do you find a doctor when travelling? March 11 2018, 0 Comments


When it comes to traveling, the old saying "you do not prepare to fail, only fail to prepare" certainly has a lot of relevance and none more so than when it comes to medical treatment.

We can purchase all the insurance premiums salesmen will want to throw at us, get all the vaccines and stock up on all the mosquito sprays, vertigo tablets and sun creams but when it actually comes down to it and something goes wrong - potentially seriously wrong, in a foreign country, how many of us would immediately know what to do? Do you know, for instance, how to say Hospital in German? Or Ambulance in French? Do you know the emergency services telephone number in Thailand? Would you immediately know how to find a doctor whilst overseas if you needed to? 

How do you find a doctor overseas? 

1. Check with your insurance company

It seems quite obvious but many people purchase insurance as a "must have" and don't think about ever actually needing to use it and, afterall, they are there to help you out in sticky situations. That's what we pay them for. All of them should have hotlines ready for you to call in the event of an emergency and offer the most up to date information possible to help you out in your specific situation. It also helps when it comes to paying for care, a lot of insurance companies have conditions to be met if they are going to cover your costs, so save their number and start with a call to them. 

2. Online reviews and information

It's always a good idea once you arrive in country to take a quick browse online and find out what other travelers have done or read the local information pages to find out what to do if something goes wrong - also to find the best possible health service in the area! Sites like Healthgrades can be super useful in helping understand the availability of care on offer. 

3. Ask a Local 

Of course in the event of an emergency your instincts are likely to take over and you'll ask just about anyone around you for assistance so it seems quite an obvious thing to consider but it is worth stating that local knowledge is second to none. It's probably a better idea to ask staff at nearby establishments as there is a better chance that their English will be of a higher standard. 

4. Apps and Services

There are a bunch of services and even apps now available to help with finding English speaking doctors overseas. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) and the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) both have tons of advice and a directory of known English speaking doctors throughout the world on their super resourceful websites. Also now available is the Doctor in Your Pocket app which helps you find local, house call and virtual doctors to assist you should anything go wrong. 

So now you know how to manage a medical situation if you find yourself in one overseas, the best medicine is of course preparation and taking care of oneself! Not finding yourself in a medical emergency is better than knowing what to do if you do. 

Do you have any more tips and advice on what to do should you need a doctor overseas? Let us know in the comments below. 

P.S. Hospital in German is  Krankenhaus, Ambulance in French is Ambulance and the emergency services line in Thailand is 1169! 



How to stay safe as a solo female traveller October 14 2017, 0 Comments

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

You might be a spontaneous traveller, but when going solo, you should book at least your first night of accommodation before arrival. One tip when choosing a hotel is opting for a centrally located one.

This way, you will not stand out as much, and you will also have a chance to mingle with other travellers. Also, try to time your trip in such a way that you arrive in the morning.

Some female travellers also recommend packing a doorstop that will keep doors from being opened.


TRUST YOUR INTUITION

Women have often been lauded for their ability to read body language and pick up social cues. Use this intuition to your advantage, and learn to trust your gut.

If you are caught in an uncomfortable situation, pack your bags and hit the road. Just ensure that you have alternate accommodation in mind.


DON'T LET PICKPOCKETS PICK ON YOU

Besides staying vigilant, it is also a good idea to spread your valuables into different compartments of your bag.

That way, if you do fall victim to a pickpocket, your important documents are all spread out, so you won't lose everything in one go.

You can also consider making copies of your credit cards and passport and saving it to Google Docs or Dropbox.

When you are sitting down, loop the strap of your bag around your leg to prevent someone from running away with it. When walking in crowded areas, wear your backpack in front to avoid pickpockets from cutting into your belongings. Alternatively, pick up a slash-free and anti-theft bag from brands such as Pacsafe.


WHEN IN ROME...

While you might want to get all dolled up for your vacation, you do not want to draw unwanted attention to yourself. When travelling alone, try to conform to cultural norms and dress modestly in countries where it is expected. In some countries, you might want to wear a wedding ring even if you are single.


HAVE A TIPPLE, BUT DON'T GET TOO TIPSY

Even though you are on holiday, you should be very wary before getting too "wasted" when you are travelling by yourself. Know your limits before you party.

If a stranger asks you to go out for drinks, politely decline the offer and say that you have other plans. Remember, you should not feel guilty or bad when saying no if it means feeling safe.


MAKE YOUR MARK

Inform a loved one of your flights and itineraries. A photo upload and check-in at a new location is also a good way to keep your family and friends posted about your whereabouts.

That said, be careful not to overshare. Refrain from telling strangers where you are staying and only post about hotels on social media after you have left.

Even if you are travelling on a budget, international phone plans are worth spending money on. Carry a few international phone cards if you do not want to commit to a whole phone plan.


WHEN HAILING A CAB

Before you head out, grab the business card or jot down the name, address and phone number of your accommodation. It will come in handy if you get lost or are unable to communicate with the driver.

Another thing you should take note of is the taxi number or the licence plate, just in case.

To avoid getting overcharged, ask the hotel front desk for an estimate of how much it will cost to get to your destination.

Alternatively, Google Maps has a feature that will provide you with a rough estimate.

When possible, agree on the fare beforehand and have the exact change with you to prevent getting ripped off.

If you have baggage with you, keep your stuff in the back seat and not in the trunk. That way, you can jump out of the cab if anything goes wrong.


The Eiffel Tower... Pickpocket heaven? July 13 2017, 0 Comments

Eiffel Tower Police 

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the sites that is probably on every single person's bucket list, at least every single avid traveler's. It's an engineering marvel and an iconic tower, representing France and known by all around the world. Something people perhaps don't quite know however is the plague of pickpockets that have used The Eiffel Tower as their area of operations for years now. They're very aware of the amount of valuable tourists that flock to the modern marvel at all times of the year, they're aware of their valuables and they're aware of how to dispossess them of such valuables, in fact they have made a very wealthy living out of it, with some reports suggesting they earn around $4000 USD per DAY off of stolen goods.

Security forces have had exceptional difficulty in trying to control the situation and even CLOSED the tourist attraction to the public back in 2015 as the situation spiraled out of control and staff staged a walkout due to abuse from the pickpocket gangs. These organized gangs use sophisticated techniques to ensure their bounty continues, like dressing up as tourists themselves and buying tickets to enter the attraction, rather than waiting on the outside. They also employ tactics like taking selfies or asking tourists to take part in fake petitions and ever targeting the public transport routes on the way to the attraction. It's not just pickpocketing that is the problem too, violent crime has become a worrying symptom of these gangs having been able to operate for so long. After all, their thievery is worth hundreds of thousands of Euros per year, which is then sent out of the country, often to the gangs home countries of Romania or Bulgaria.

75% of visitors to the Eiffel Tower are foreign tourists, that's a staggering 7 million people per year, which makes it the most visited, paid monument in the world and its growing year on year. This recent TripAdvisor review comes from someone who suggests the problem of pickpockets is not abating, despite additional security measures and several big arrests. 

Naturally we would never suggest that you don't visit one of the worlds most famous monuments due to some silly thieves, you absolutely must include it in your bucket list of things to do. But be wary of course, try to outsmart the pickpockets rather than the other way around. Be on your guard, if you're approached by someone you don't know, keep your hands on your valuables - or even better, pick up some Clever Travel Companion gear. Outsmarting the rabble of pickpockets was precisely what it was designed for!