An interesting interview with Brenda S. Sprague, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for passport services in Sunday’s New York Times (February 3, 2013), Travel, p. 3 provides lots of insights for intercultural communication and useful tips for the traveler. Most useful is the suggestion to visit the website www.travel.state.gov. It provides a wealth of information on specific countries along with travel warnings. Today’s warnings, for example, were for the Philippines, Afghanistan, and El Salvador. Another useful tip is to enroll in STEP (Smart Travel Enrollment Program). This will provide you with information on the places you plan to visit as well as travel warnings and weather alerts.
I learned two other things from this interview. First, your health insurance will usually not cover you in a foreign country, nor will Medicare. And even if you will get reimbursed from your insurance company, foreign hospitals generally want payment upfront. In special cases, the government will give you a loan for an evacuation which you’ll have to pay back. According to Sprague this medevac can easily cost $100,000. Second, if unrest develops in the country you’re visiting, the State Department will help get you out but you will have to pay the cost.