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There is nothing worse than finding yourself overseas on that “dream vacation” and suddenly realize that the dream is now a nightmare. Plan carefully because it will not do to run off to Africa on safari at a moment’s notice, trusting in a lucky rabbit’s foot keychain for protection. Sure, grabbing a passport and mosquito repellent will get you there, but you can’t imagine the inconveniences that arise without the items below. The following will tip the scales in your favor.

1. A visa is required to enter a country, and specifies on what terms the visitor is there (tourist, business, work), and how many days the visitor may stay. Sometimes the visa can be obtained at the customs desk of the destination country, but often the visa must be requested and obtained from the country’s embassy before the visitor leaves home. This process takes time, and some embassies are notoriously slow in approving visas, or even reluctant to do so at all.

2. If you plan on renting a car in the destination country, you must find out what is required in order to do so. Will your passport or current license do the trick, or should you apply for an international driver’s license? How much will insurance cost?

3. Photocopies! Make photocopies of your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, social security card, and any other important documents you’ll be carrying with you. One extra set should go with the traveler in a separate place in the luggage from the originals, and a second set should stay with a trusted relative or friend. If, for some reason, you lose the paperwork, you can call home to get the necessary numbers, or a friend can fax them to the officials.

4. Traveler’s insurance is always a good idea. Always. Even if it is never used – which, by the way, would be a good thing, it’s inexpensive and worth it.

5. Prescription medication should be packed, along with the actual written prescription from the doctor. An extra set of eyeglasses or contacts is also a good idea. The medication should always be packaged in original correctly-labeled bottles. An obscure, unmarked bottle or bag of drug in the luggage will tie things up considerably in the airport customs department.

6. A credit card company will become suspicious if an account based in, say, Iowa begins making charges in Madagascar. Always contact the credit card companies to alert them that you’ll be making charges in specific locations, preventing their alarm and temporary suspension of the account.

7. Mentally prepare yourself for an exhausting trip to and from the destination. Be ready for it, overseas travel is grueling, even if all goes well.

8. Take a record of important contact numbers, including close family, the doctor, the dentist, the lawyer, the bank, credit card companies, and the numbers for U.S. Embassies in the destination locations. Relatives should have an itinerary, and an option of emergency contact numbers.

9. Will your cell phone work in the destination country? Probably not. You should investigate his options, but in most cases, it is worth the extra expense and effort to have a cell phone available for use overseas.

10. Search online for forums run by Americans (or natives of the traveler’s country) who live in the destination country as expatriates. They will have experience and wisdom that other tourists may never discover about life in that country. A simple thing like knowing that certain vegetables or street vendor foods are prone to causing stomach upset can make all the difference in enjoying a vacation spot.

Preparation for an overseas vacation is key to getting the most enjoyment from it. In this case, it helps to think like a pessimist, “Something is bound to go wrong,” and be ready. Of course once you reach the destination, it is important to have fun!

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6 Ways to Keep Your Hair in Top Condition – Totally Naturally

Your hair is one of the first things anyone notices about you, but if it’s in poor condition, it’s extremely difficult to style it successfully to achieve the look you want. Many products are available which claim to give your hair’s condition a healthy boost, but even if these are actually effective, they’re usually expensive and prevention is always better. Here are six totally natural ways to keep your hair looking healthy, undamaged, and full of shine and body.

Avoid Heat

It might be tempting to straighten your hair for a more stylish look, but excessive heat damages hair and makes it brittle. If possible, avoid using a hair dryer by allowing extra time when getting ready so your hair dries naturally. However, if you must use a dryer, use the low-heat setting for the lowest risk of damage.

Wash in Warm Water

Hot showers may feel great on your body, but keep the hot water away from your hair. Washing and conditioning your hair should be done in cold to lukewarm water to prevent unwanted damage to the ends, and also to avoid washing out your hair’s essential, shine-giving oils.

Don’t Comb Wet Hair

If you’re in a rush, you may be tempted to comb or brush your hair while it’s still wet, but this is best avoided. Hair is more brittle and prone to damage when it’s wet, so hold off on styling for a while until it’s had the chance to dry a little.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential for your hair to grow and stay healthy, and one of the most important varieties is vitamin A. Green, leafy vegetables are an excellent source of this vital nutrient, along with carrots, dairy products, and dark meats. If your diet is lacking in these foods, taking a multivitamin or a supplement designed specifically for hair growth is better than nothing, but paying attention to healthy eating should always be the first choice.

Stay Away from Chemicals

Avoid the temptation to dye or bleach your hair. The chemicals needed to do this are harsh and damaging, and frequent use can even cause long-term or irreversible harm to your follicles and scalp. If you do use chemical treatments, always opt for mild shampoos and conditioners afterward, or ones specifically designed for color-treated hair.

Regular Deep Condition

Lastly, a regular deep conditioning will keep your hair looking and feeling great whatever the ravages of your daily life. There’s no need to use expensive products for this – any mild oil such as castor, coconut, olive, or even baby oil will be perfect. Simply warm it a little then massage it into your hair roots and scalp. Leave for half an hour, then wash gently using warm water to give shine, elasticity, and super-soft locks.

Your hair is an important beauty asset, but it’s very sensitive to rough treatment. Taking care of your hair naturally will keep it in the best possible condition, removing the need for expensive treatments to restore shine and body, and making it easy to style into the look you want.


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