Destination intelligence: Know before you go

There’s more to know about a foreign travel destination than the language, how to get around, and what to see when you’re there. Facts like the type of weather you can expect, immunization requirements, and what you’ll need to enter a country all play a role in planning well.

All of these topics and more fall under the general designation of “destination intelligence,” which boils down to getting smart about the places you’ll be. These are just some of the types of intelligence to gather before traveling to a different country.

Get a weather report

Chilly or hot, rainy or dry, sunny or cloudy – all of these conditions will make a difference in the type of clothing and footwear to pack. A simple internet search will deliver more than one source for average day and nighttime temperatures for nearly any location in the world. If your destination promises a mixture of all of the above, pack separates so you can add and subtract layers.

Understand the time difference

Knowing the time difference between your home and your destination makes it a lot easier for you to reach people at home without waking them up in the middle of the night. For convenience, make a simple conversion chart and carry it in your purse or wallet.

 Master the currency and exchange rates 

To find out the difference between the U.S. dollar and the currency used in your destination, search online for “currency exchange rates.” You’ll find a number of converters. If you can do math in your head, great. If not, add the exchange rate to your time-difference cheat sheet.

Learn the health risks

Certain parts of the world are prone to mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Zika and malaria. Other diseases can emerge after natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods or tsunamis. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest health alerts for your destination so you can take any necessary precautions. And, make an appointment with your doctor four to six weeks before you leave to get any necessary vaccinations or medications.

Be aware of crime and security concerns

The U.S. State Department publishes a wealth of information about the types of crimes most likely to target foreign visitors in specific countries, along with tips on how to stay safe. In addition, you can consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs pages for specific travel warnings and travel alerts. Travel warnings cover such things as unstable government, civil war or frequent terrorist attacks. Travel alerts cover short-term events, such as a potentially violent election or a local disease outbreak.

If you have a SafeTrip Travel Protection plan from UnitedHealthcare Global, simply contact our Emergency Response Center for a pre-trip destination report. This report draws on the intelligence database of more than 280 cities, covering everything from health and security risks, local hospitals, crime, culture, weather, transportation information, entry and exist requirements, and more.

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