Traveling Overseas

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by nadofr8dog, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. nadofr8dog

    nadofr8dog Member

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    Instead of "thread creep" decided to start a new thread based on some discussion from Cookiemom's thread. I'm a pilot for UPS airlines and do mostly international travel, 15 days a month. Here are some lessons learned from 13 years experience:

    - ensure your DS/DD has a calling card. I like AT&T. "AT&T Direct" are normally toll free numbers available from just about every country in the world.

    -ensure they turn their cell phone off or keep it in airline mode. I'm not real smart on cell phones but do not use mine overseas. Some crewmembers have/purchase "sim" chips for different countries. Skype is nice and I use it extensively but one has to be connected to the internet to use it. There are some hotels I pay upwards of $20 for 24 hours of internet access. Internet cafe's are generally available, but one has to use their computers and I've always questioned the safety of passwords, etc, that are entered on those computers, especially in some third world counties . . . .

    - try not to use phones in hotel rooms. Connection charges are generally very expensive, even connecting to AT&T Direct!

    - always have a couple of "spare" $20 dollar bills hidden somewhere, $100 is probable a good start, $200 even better. Haven't seen or used Amex "Travelers Checks" in eons!

    - I use ATM's to get local cash. These generally give the best rate and avoids the horrendous service charges that hotels add on. Some countries have questionable ATM's, have DS/DD talk to someone on board to determine best place/method to change money in a specific port. FYI, NFCU adds an international service charge on all ATM and Credit Card charges, not much, but . . . .

    - wear pants/shorts with pockets that zip shut!

    - have a color copy of passport, twic, etc

    - have minimum required in wallet/purse. Some countries require one to have passport on person and available if stopped at all times.

    - with NFCU on campus, there's no reason for a mid not to have a credit card. Not to open a can of worms, but our DS has a fairly low credit limit. We plan on increasing this while he is at sea and we have the capability of paying off his balance in the event he maxes it out and needs it in an emergency. Again, no intention on opening a can of worms re: fiscal responsibility, etc.

    - Not sure how "ATR" works, but if it anything like our travel office, they may/should be able to make a hotel reservation for mids who are going to be stranded in a foreign port. Hopefully there is an emergency 24/7/365 number they can call. A little prior propper planning is required on the mids part . . . . .

    - If DS/DD are put in a hotel they feel is unsafe, make sure they know to call ATR, or anyone at KP in authority, and use the term "UNSAFE"! One will be amazed how quick of a response that will generate!

    - most international hotels have safes in the room, use it!

    FWIW. Others with international travel experience are welcome to chime in!
     
  2. zonker

    zonker Member

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    For some countries, (Japan), it's cash-based, and not as credit-card-friendly-everywhere like you may be used to. Find out what you can.
    In fact, there are plenty of KPers who have probably gone where you may be headed... ask them.
    We did, and got some amazing, practical, and TIMELY advice !
     
  3. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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    What I would add is to check weight limits for checked bags. DS is a 2013 B-split; he's on a MSC ship based out of Guam. When he originally left KP, he had to fly to Norfolk to do the MSC processing. His checked bag on US Air was overweight, so he had to pay an extra fee. (As we understand, he will be reimbursed for that.) However, when he went to check in for his flight to Guam (Norfolk-JFK-Tokyo-Guam on Delta), he couldn't check his bag at all due to the weight. Ended up buying another bag in the Norfolk airport so he could offload some of his gear into a second checked bag. It all worked in the end, but it would have worked better if he'd known about the weight limits in advance.
     
  4. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    - In addition to Internet Cafes - most Seaman's Clubs and Missions now have/provide relatively cheap Internet access as an alternative to using an Internet Café. These are usually also relatively safe havens for Merchant Mariners and good places to make sure you are aware of the local scams, etc. as there is usually someone there who can and will steer you right.

    - Also not trying to create issues but in addition to NFCU midshipmen are eligible and may obtain their own credit cards (or at least they could previously) from USAA. The recently enacted credit protection laws prohibit most credit card companies from issuing introductory cards to college students. USAA issues it to them as members of the armed services and they are not issued at any sort of marketing/introductory rate and they are therefore not prohibited under that new law.

    - The ATR is the Academy Training Representative and isn't like a travel agent, that said, all Mids get a Sea Year Orientation prior to going on sea year that covers how all this sorts of stuff works, They also get a book on that as well and hopefully for those of us whop are worried parents, they'll let us see and read it. It has a fair amount of practical/useful information. In the situations that nadofr8dog mentions the right place to start is indeed the ATR.

    - To use the sim card option you either have to get your phone "unlocked" before you leave the US or buy a cheap phone overseas. In most cases there is someone who will be part of the folks who meet the ship for other reasons that can and will sell both to you, at least in Asia, the land of all things electronic. From our experience this is a great, cost effective way to go.

    - It's also useful/comforting to know how your families medical coverage works should any of you need such coverage/care while overseas and what you need to make sure they are covered in the event something happens ands for some reason there is an issue. In the end this shouldn't be an issue but if there's any sort of question, it's always nice to have a "belt and suspenders" on in this regard.
     
  5. nadofr8dog

    nadofr8dog Member

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    USAA Credit cards are very good and I don't think they charge an ATM fee, not sure if they charge an International Service Fee as NFCU does.

    I'm sure there are other CC companies which families have used for a long time and are very happy with. Use whatever you are comfortable with.

    One problem which has cropped up are charges which will prompt a "Fraud Alert" from a credit card company. If one doesn't respond within a specific amount of time, your credit card will be locked out. It might be wise to determine whom you want the CC Company to call in case this happens.

    I charged a large amount on my CC in Hong Kong and my wife received a Fraud Alert call from NFCU before I even made it back to the hotel!
     
  6. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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    We called the credit card company before DS shipped out to let them know he might make charges in the Pacific. Our company also is very good about calling if they suspect fraud.
     
  7. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Didn't know there was a training book we could read:thumbdown: Did know that there is a "secret KP code" to let ATR or KP know they need to GET OFF THE SHIP NOW:thumb: And DO KNOW that the sea list didn't mention ENOUGH underwear to take along:eek: (They change them 3 times a day....who would've thought they'd be back to that moms....And do know DS bought ONE underwear in Japan for $20 bucks:shake: and heard from my DS last night this story. He was working on deck and he heard a familiar voice say "Hey (name of ds), you look like you need a shave" Ds turned around and it was one of his friends from Band Co who had just graduated from KP who is now hired onto ds's ship! Huh now THAT was a good story.:wink:
     
  8. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Oh yeh, forgot to mention. This thread is really great. I'm keeping a copy of this one on paper. Thanks for the great info. Keep it coming.
     
  9. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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  10. coolsailing

    coolsailing Member

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    kdbax, just sent you a pm.
     

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