Empowering youth to protect fisheries in the Solomon Islands


By Faye Aborina Siota | 


In the Solomon Islands, discussions and decisions on managing local fisheries mostly involve men, who are typically the elders and hold the leadership positions in communities. Yet research from across the world shows that broad community involvement and commitment is critical for equitable fisheries management.

A key challenge is to arrive at a model of community management of natural resources that integrates the voices of all community members, including youth, while also respecting traditional social hierarchy.

Spear fishing, Solomon Islands.

In the Solomon Islands, fish and fishing is important as a source of food and income and is integrated into the way of life of households and communities. Youth participate in fisheries by fishing from shore or from canoes, diving to gather invertebrates and to Spearfish, and helping to clean and prepare to catch for sale or for consumption – all of which are important contributions to the collective activities of a rural and coastal community.

Yet the strong cultural hierarchy in many rural and coastal communities limits the extent that youth can participate in discussions on fisheries governance. Respect for community chiefs, elders, religious leaders and resource owners as the decision makers sometimes restrains the ability that youth have to contribute ideas. This can mean that youth become disenfranchised, resulting in many being uninvolved and even unaware of such deliberations. The trend for youth to move away from rural communities to bigger urban centers adds to the challenge.

Encouraging the greater involvement all individuals, including youth, in fisheries management has been a focus of efforts by WorldFish in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to test, refine and promote community-based resource management (CBRM) in the Solomon Islands since 2005.

The CBRM approach involves local communities managing natural resources in partnership with government bodies and civil society groups through such mechanisms as discussing customary access rights, sharing contemporary scientific and local knowledge about marine environments and fish ecology, promoting sustainable harvesting and practicing enforcement. This approach resonates well in the Solomon Islands, where, because of customary marine tenure, communities have always managed their local fisheries with little intervention from government authorities.

CBRM training participants, Solomon Islands.

To ensure CBRM initiatives reach and involve youth, WorldFish has partnered with the regional organization Pacific Community (SPC) to run workshops on CBRM specifically targeted toward youth. Since November 2016, three youth-targeted trainings have been held involving 47 young people.

The three-day training empowers youth to increase their knowledge and confidence so as to allow them to get actively involved in, and even lead, marine resource management in their communities. It encourages young people to open up, interact and share ideas on tackling fisheries issues and solutions in their own communities. By giving them the opportunity to recognize their capabilities, youth understand that they can contribute to resource management programs, and affect a range of decisions that impact upon the future of their communities.

Look & learn trip, Solomon Islands.

The gaining of basic marine biology knowledge and a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the marine environment to us humans was an evident impact of the training. With this new knowledge, youths discussed ways that they would be able to better manage community resources and work together to improve their management when they returned home. To capture these ideas, the youths drew up action plans that outlined activities such as holding awareness talks to carry out on their return to their communities.

In the Solomon Islands, we are all resource users that depend on fisheries for food and income. If we don’t all participate in managing our natural resources and protecting our environment, then we can’t ensure the continued benefits of fisheries for the people who depend on them. Appreciating our youth and recognizing them as agents of change in our communities is therefore critical to achieving sustainable outcomes from CBRM initiatives.


AUTHOR

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota has been working for WorldFish as a Research Analyst since 2012. She has been involved in research on community-based resource management (CBRM), nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) and most recently, on food and nutrition in rural communities. She believes in community empowerment and the strength-based approach.


 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The Fish Tank and retrieved on 12/21/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Australia to ax support for long-term ecology sites

AaronGreenvilleDesertStorm_online

An Australian agency plans to pull the plug on a long-term ecological monitoring program in the stunning Simpson Desert.


By John PickrellAug. 11, 2017 , 5:10 PM


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—The Simpson Desert of central Australia is as starkly beautiful as it is ecologically entrancing. Ranks of rusty red sand dunes run unbroken for hundreds of kilometers. During rare years with sustained downpours, moist swales are carpeted with spiky spinifex grasses that take on the appearance of fields of golden wheat. Desert ecosystems dominated by spinifex or Triodia grasses cover about 70% of Australia, but the only long-term experiment for studying them is set in a section of the desert in western Queensland—and that research site is now in jeopardy.

Launched in 1990, the study has shown that heavy rains cause flushes of vegetation and seeds that lead to booms of insects, small marsupials, and rodents. Outback pools draw immense swarms of parakeets called budgerigars. That explosion of life attracts feral foxes and cats, which have had a role in the extinction of 27 species and subspecies of mammals in Australia since European colonization in 1788. The invasive species ravage the native ones, which may spend many years hunkered down in scrubby woodland refugia until fresh downpours start the cycle again.

If you monitored the desert’s fauna for just a few years at a time you’d miss that dynamic, says Glenda Wardle, an ecologist at the University of Sydney here. “Long-term research in the Simpson Desert has provided fundamental insights into the ecology of outback Australia” and crucial information for protecting endangered species and other natural resources, says Wardle, co-leader of the Simpson Desert Mammal Monitoring project.

But such studies are now slated for the chopping block. A body funded by Australia’s federal government plans to stop funding all 12 sites in Australia’s Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN), including the 8000-square-kilometer Simpson Desert site, at the end of this year. In a letter in today’s issue of Science, Wardle and 68 co-authors decry the decision as “totally out of step with international trends and national imperatives.” She and leaders of the other projects are now scrambling to find other sources of funding before their coffers run dry.

LTERN’s demise could have major consequences, supporters say. “In a country like Australia, which is facing huge challenges with climate change, with expanding populations, with major pressures on its water supplies and land area—we’re not going to be able to predict anything about the status of our environmental assets,” says David Lindenmayer, LTERN’s science director, lead signatory of the letter, and an ecologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. Barring an 11th hour reprieve, some sites will surely have to shut down, he predicts. “That’s a catastrophic loss because it means we have no real ability to take a health reading on the country.”

LTERN covers more than 1100 long-term field plots in ecosystems including alpine grasslands, tall wet forests, temperate woodlands, heathlands, tropical savannas, rainforests, and deserts. Some sites are globally unique, including Victoria state’s forests of mountain ash trees (Eucalyptus regnans), the world’s tallest flowering plants. Each of the 12 networks of plots started as discrete university-run projects that in 2012 were gathered under the government’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) in Brisbane. But budget cuts and new government guidelines on funding priorities have forced TERN to terminate the AUS$900,000 program, says TERN Director Beryl Morris. TERN will continue to fund a handful of long-term sites that are not part of LTERN, including the Warra tall gum forests of Tasmania.

To illustrate LTERN’s value, scientists rattle off a number of major findings. In 2010, for example, studies centered on Kakadu National Park south of Darwin, Australia, revealed a population collapse of small marsupials and mammals. The cause, says network co-leader Jeremy Russell-Smith of Charles Darwin University in Casuarina, Australia, appears to have been more frequent fires, which created more open ground and allowed feral cats to decimate native species. “People assumed [that ecosystem] was pretty intact,” he says. “That view is totally incorrect, but you need long-term monitoring to show that.”

LTERN’s closure would have international implications, says David Keith, an ecologist at the University of New South Wales here who manages studies at three sites. Of 80 ecological communities listed as threatened by the Australian government, only 24 are monitored, and LTERN studies account for the longest and most reliable data sets. “Their discontinuation will substantially weaken Australia’s … ability to report on progress to meet international targets agreed to under the Convention on Biological Diversity,” he says.

Lindenmayer and others are making a last-ditch bid to find new pots of money to stabilize LTERN—and, if they’re lucky, expand the network to major ecosystem types currently lacking long-term monitoring. “I am hopeful,” says Keith, “that a phoenix will rise from the ashes.”

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Science Mag and retrieved on 08/11/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Dubai wants to be ‘world’s happiest city’

 The desert city of Dubai launched its own ‘happiness index’ in 2014. Photograph: John Harper/Corbis

The desert city of Dubai launched its own ‘happiness index’ in 2014. Photograph: John Harper/Corbis


Written by: . Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The United Arab Emirates recently appointed its first ‘minister for happiness’, underlining Dubai’s ambitious plan to become the happiest city on the planet. But a new report suggests there is still much work to be done.


Dubai’s ambition to become the “world’s happiest city” by the end of the decade has suffered a blow with the publication of the latest annual World Happiness Report, which sees the United Arab Emirates slip down the rankings from 20th to 28th place.

The new report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, also states that “happiness inequality” has increased significantly “in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole.”

In an effort to counter this trend, in 2014 Dubai – one of seven emirates that make up the UAE – launched its own “happiness index”, aimed at collecting data on how government services impacted happiness. Smart devices were distributed around the city – 23 touch-screen terminals positioned in public buildings and linked to government centres – and individuals were encouraged to give feedback by choosing one of three options to register satisfaction or otherwise with their experience.

“Creating happiness is the final result of the smart city agenda,” Ahmed Bin Byat, CEO of the investment group Dubai Holding, told a government summit last year. “Once we are able to manage and meet people’s experiences, we will be able to rise on the happiness index. It is vital because if people are not happy, they don’t stick around in the city; they leave.”

 As part of its bid to be a happier city, Dubai is spending billions generating clean energy. Photograph: Ashraf Mohammad Mohammad Alamra/Reuters

As part of its bid to be a happier city, Dubai is spending billions generating clean energy. Photograph: Ashraf Mohammad Mohammad Alamra/Reuters

Last month, the UAE’s prime minister and Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced via Twitter that his new cabinet included its first “minister of state for happiness”, Ohood Al Roumi. He insisted this was more than a fuzzy feelgood move, and that the initiative would be propelled by “plans, projects, programmes [and] indices”.

One supporter of Dubai’s efforts is Scott Cain, chief business officer at the UK government-funded organisation Future Cities Catapult (FCC), which aims to “accelerate urban ideas to market, to grow the economy and make cities better”.Recently Cain wrote: “Happiness is something Emiratis take very seriously. Following the recent appointment of the UAE’s first minister for happiness and the declaration that Dubai is to be the happiest city in the world by 2019, Future Cities Catapult has been supporting the city in realising its ambition.

“I was recently invited to present the catapult’s view on happiness and wellbeing in the city, and addressed some issues that will be challenging in the UAE environment. It seems they weren’t discouraged as they presented me with an award, which was as unexpected as it was rewarding.”

Cain will be in Dubai later this week for the fourth annual International Day of Happiness on 20 March, which the desert city will celebrate with a series of events. “The highlight will be meeting the Minister for Happiness herself,” Cain says, “and hearing what other cities in the UK and beyond can learn from Dubai’s efforts.”

Some observers have raised eyebrows at the UAE’s “happiness project”, coming as it does amid ongoing human rights concernsAccording to Human Rights Watch (HRW): “The United Arab Emirate often uses its affluence to mask the government’s serious human rights problems. The government arbitrarily detains, and in some cases forcibly disappears, individuals who criticised the authorities, and its security forces face allegations of torturing detainees.”

HRW highlights a new anti-discrimination law which “further jeopardises free speech”, and raises concerns about migrant construction workers “facing serious exploitation” and female domestic workers who are “excluded from regulations that apply to workers in other sectors”.

According to Cain: “In many ways Dubai is much more progressive than its near neighbours; many of its senior officials are women including the minister for happiness.” He adds that FCC is “not a public policy advisory group; we follow the lead of UK government”.

While Dubai and the UAE strive for greater happiness, the top of the world happiness league continues to be dominated by northern Europe. Denmark has regained first place, followed closely by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland. The US is ranked 13th in the new report, two places higher than last year.

The report is produced by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Its co-editor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, says: “Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation’s agenda as they begin to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals … Rather than taking a narrow approach focused solely on economic growth, we should promote societies that are prosperous, just and environmentally sustainable.”

Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook and join the discussion


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The Guardian and was retrieved on March 16, 2016 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, contents and thoughts expressed in the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

 

 

 

Prosecute an ebola victim and stand ready to be prosecuted

Source: AFP. URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29467489. Accessed: 10/02/2014

Source: AFP. URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29467489. Accessed: 10/02/2014

There are reports that a Liberian national who flew from Liberia to the US has ebola virus disease (EVD). He arrived in the US about 2-3 weeks ago and confirmed to be infected with the deadly EVD and the Liberian government has issued a statement that he will be prosecuted because he lied to the authorities at the J.F. Kennedy International airport in Monrovia when he filled out a ‘questionnaire’ to determine whether or not he’s affected with the virus or a risk factor before departing from the country.

There are various diagnostic tests that could be carried out to determine whether or not an individual is infected with the virus (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/diagnosis/). Given that Liberia and specifically Monrovia is a hot spot for the spread of the virus, it should have been mandated that anyone flying out of the country be tested prior to their departure given them enough time to assess each traveler. This may seem too harsh, but it could have reduce the incidence of those at high risk slinking out of the country without being detected.

Upon arrival in the US in Dallas, Taxes, Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with the EVD about 2 weeks after his arrival and he’s currently in a critical state at a hospital in TX. Given the information and reports published online and released via various agencies about a Liberian citizen who brought the virus to the US, the Liberian government only response seems to be in denial casting the problem solely to the individual rather than retrospecting inwardly to determine the massive errors within the system, which is run my corruptions, greed, etc.

This highlights the government’s don’t care attitude, which continues to facilitate the indiscriminate spread of the virus. The immediate reaction of the government to prosecute a victim who is in critical state here in the US resonates with the fact that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf just doesn’t care about the value of human life in retrospect to her relationship with the Obama’s Administration. Her immediate criticism of Duncan’s current state without regard to his life demonstrates that she lacks the heart as a leader, just doesn’t care, and all she cares about is to secure her relationship with the US and anything or anyone who tries to interfere with that relationship would have to face her wrath.

Up until now, there are reports of victims not being attended to, bodies of dead victims continue to be left in public or remote places without being duly buried, images that seem to resonate with war-time settings. The Liberian government stated that Duncan lied on his questionnaire he did not have any physical contact with an infected victim. The government stated that indeed he (Duncan) did in fact had contact with an infected relative he “personally” took to an EVD treatment center in a wheelbarrow in Monrovia. The question is, if he did, wasn’t he following prior orders made by the government of Liberia and to be more specific, an order that was made by President Sirleaf herself? If he did, why didn’t they provide the necessary service(s) for him to be isolated after taking his relative at a treatment center? Why did they allow him to leave without following the ‘system put in place’ even if there is a system in place? What was the system in place for someone who wants their relative taken to an EVD treatment center? If a system was in place, why did Duncan follow through by taking his infected relative? Well, the answer to the last question relates back to reports that health workers several weeks ago were no where around to do their job because they themselves fear death. If everything remain constant, why weren’t health workers available to take his infected relative to a treatment center and he had to risk his life?

The government can argue that they will have him prosecuted because he lied on his questionnaire. Well, the claim you made that he personally had physical contact with an infected relative was conditioned on the fact that he had no alternatives, because there may have been no health workers around, thus prompting him to risk his own life to take his infected relative to a treatment center.

If Ellen is serious to prosecute Duncan, she must put in place rigorous measures to handle the problem instead of casting blames on others and using threats to make people to submit to her call.

It is not surprising that as many as 1400 Liberians have perished from Ebola and hundreds more new cases reported. The Liberian healthcare system was massively destroyed during the country’s bloody 14-year senseless and nonsensical civil war, which left approximately 500,000 dead plus thousands scattered in refugee camps across the sub-region. In 2003, peace, security, and stability were restored to Liberia after immense efforts by the UN, the international community, EU, ECOWAS, AU, INGOs and other stakeholders, which included the various warring factions. After Ellen was elected President of Liberia, her government was faced [and continue to face] with several challenges, constraints and massive opportunities (the influx of aid organizations, NGOs, etc) plus investments portfolios offers from various governments and investment institutions. Most of the money became used by officials who flew overseas into merrymaking and drove fancy cars, plus a government rampantly engage in public corruption, abuse of power, nepotistic behaviors, favoritism, etc., while underestimating the true and legitimate needs of the Liberian populace [not only those in Monrovia], as Monrovia continue to be the epicenter of development focus. Investment portfolios, donations, international aid and resources became the ‘water-pool’ of wealth for fewer people in her inner circle usually the ‘elite’, while the ‘rest’ of the Liberian people have to seek their livelihoods at the margins of the society.

Today, these ill-governance practices, corruption, lies, nepotistic behaviors and engagements and lack of focus have led to and paved the way for the outbreak of indiscriminate spread of the EVD. This is the real culprit of the virus continuous spread and until Ellen turned inwardly and put herself together and ask some real fundamental questions why is this happening, how can it be addressed, what needs to be done NOW and stop blaming others for a failed government policies and practices, the continuous spread of EVD would not be easily stopped and she would be a legitimate candidate to be prosecuted by the Liberian people. In Liberia we usually say, ‘time will tell.’ It is just a matter of time for this to happen and she still has time to revert the spread of the virus and the first step in that process is stepping aside as the person responsible for spearheading the task force against EVD to someone trustworthy and focusing her remaining energy of her life and administration to governance, transparency, accountability, and trying to regain the trust of the Liberian people.

Do you like traveling? 19 tips that could help on your next travel.

EK A380 Source: http://www.arabaviation.com/CountryBriefs/UAE/EmiratesAirlines/tabid/200/PageIndex/7/language/en-US/Default.aspx. Accessed:19/09/2014

EK A380
Source: http://www.arabaviation.com/CountryBriefs/UAE/EmiratesAirlines/tabid/200/PageIndex/7/language/en-US/Default.aspx. Accessed:19/09/2014

Do you love traveling? This post is meant for you! Traveling is fun, but it could also be very stressful if not well plan in advance. In this post, I seek to present few tips for all travelers especially those traveling abroad. This post is not meant to be exhaustive, neither for the information presented herein to replace any government travels tips or alert.

1. Be mentally prepared

Mental preparedness is a very important aspect that needs to be considered carefully before booking your ticket. Our mental state impacts our characters and our characters induce certain behaviors that could be positive or negative, stereotypical or critical, true or false impressions, etc. Your body should follow your head, heart, and soul and not the other way round. Mental preparedness also allows you to embrace your trip with confidence, joy, and peace of mind. Your physical health and mental health are well-connected and defined. So, before you embark on an international journey, whether it is for a vacation, family reunion, school, research, marriage, etc make sure you are mentally fit to embark on the journey.

2. Check on visas requirements

This is also a crucial point. You don’t want to arrive at the airport just to be told by the airline that you wouldn’t be accepted onboard because you need a visa. This almost happened to me in January 2014 on my way from Jakarta, Indonesia to Vientiane, Lao PDR via Viet Nam Airline. I had to transit from Ho Chi Minh City (Formerly Sargon) to Hanoi for more than 24 hours during my trip to Laos. Since transit flight from Sargon to Hanoi was a domestic flight, according to Viet Nam Law, I (as an American Citizen) needed a transit visa to be able to board my flight from Sargon to Hanoi even though my final destination was Vientiane, Laos for which I already had a visa. Here I was in Bali enjoying the sunshine beaches with my family and faced with the challenge of obtaining a Viet Namese transit visa. Luckily, Google never lies, if you search credible sources. I was able to obtained a pre-arrival transit visa via: http://www.vietnamvisacorp.com. My passport information, fees, and processing fees were emailed to folks at Viet Nam Visa Corp and within 4 hours, I received a rubber stem scanned pdf version letter giving me pre-arrival approval to land and stay in Viet Nam for 32 hours, which was legitimate. I presented the letter to the airline and they allowed me to board the flight without which I wouldn’t be allowed, if I don’t have a visa. I initially thought I never needed a visit since I was transit in Viet Nam, but actually needed one since my transit required a second/domestic travel from Sargon to Hanoi. So, you need to always make sure which country allows you visa on arrival and which doesn’t. Also, if you are transiting in a country, you could be in a milky water, if you stay over for more than 24 hours. If you don’t plan on leaving the airport you should be fine. However, some international airports around the world are not operated on 24 hours. So, this could be a problem. You don’t want to get into any problem with immigration officers. So, make sure you always double-check on visas requirements. If your flight plan requires you to transit in other countries, make sure to check on transit visa requirements for all transiting countries.

3. Travel Smart

Smart travelers are those who plan well in advance and make sure they are comfortable while traveling. This is traveling such that you minimize expense, while capitalizing on every positive opportunities as you travel. Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with the U.S. Department of State Travel site for those that are U.S. Citizen National or U.S. Non-citizen National. Here is the link: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html. If you register with the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” [https://step.state.gov/step/] at the U.S. Department of State, you will be notified with information, warnings, alerts, etc for all countries you listed when you register with the STEP. This is a very important tool that could save you more time, energy, and resources. Traveling smart means registering smart! So, make use of it! If you feel uncomfortable providing information of USDS of your international travels by registering with the STEP, just make sure someone else knows where you are heading, potential places you will be visiting, etc so that someone could have the officials inform should something happen.

4. Passport-up

This is the most important aspect. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least more than 6-month. Some countries could even deny you visa if your passport is valid for less than 6-month. Renew your passport as necessary. Let assume that your passport is valid, you’ve gotten your visa, ticket(s), cash, vaccines (as appropriate), etc make sure you make legible photocopies of your passport biographic pages, visas, any immigration document presented to you for your destined countries/transiting cities, important ID cards, health insurance card, etc. This is very important because in case of theft, misplace passport or identification cards, you always have backups. You never know when the unexpected happens, so, planning ahead would save you all the stress associated with this. If you are unclear what form of identifications you would need apart from your passport as you journey abroad, ask the appropriate Embassy of the countries you plan to travel to. However, in almost all cases, your passport, health insurance card, driver’s licenses, and or work ID could be some credible ID to take along. These could help in case an issue arise.

5. Mobile-up

One of the most important thing to take along with you as you travel is your mobile phone. While some phone companies in the US can’t work abroad, some phones from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, etc could use SIM Card from other countries, but remember, that means your phone has to be decoded before it can use the SIM cards from other countries. This process could be expensive for some travelers weight your options and see what’s best for you as you travel. One easier option is to get a phone immediately upon arrival in the country where you are heading. However, make sure the phone vendors “don’t eat your eye”, meaning charging you more for a phone that would usually cost less. If you know someone already in the city/country where you are traveling make sure you send them some money to buy you a phone that you can use immediately or you can buy one. However, you have to be a good negotiator to decide on some ridiculous price that would be punched in your face. This is no surprise, so be prepared for that one.

6. Secure your electronic gadgets

Most of us travel abroad with series of personal electronic gadgets,which are crucial to our journeys, to stay in touch with love ones, relatives, friends and record our experiences as we adventure. Taking these gadgets is one thing and bringing them back safely is another. Don’t flash your gadgets in the public as that could be inviting unexpected attention. Be cautious and stay alert. Do not put electronic gadgets in checked-in luggage if possible just to make sure that they aren’t damage. Make sure you backup all your data and materials on your electronic system before traveling.

7. Double check on medical documents and requirements

If you are traveling for the first time, make sure you get the appropriate vaccines of specific/potential illnesses to regions you are traveling to. Consult with your primary health provider and insurance company to determine if these vaccines are cover. Also, make sure you inform your insurance company where you are traveling, how long you will be there and when you will be back in the country. This information will help them provide recommendations of appropriate health affiliate companies that you could seek treatment or services from if you become ill. If your travel abroad is long-term, make sure you have a print out of your health insurance booklet and all appropriate forms and document their contact information in your personal notebook. You might need this urgently!

8. Contact your bank or financial institution

Most people forget about this aspect before they embark on a trip. Even if your trip is for a few days, a month, few months or a year, contacting your bank and letting them know and documenting all potential travels plans; that is, which include all cities or countries will you be traveling. This is important if you will be conducting direct financial activities via your home bank account through the us of ATM or other medium. If your financial institution is unaware and they detect your ATM/Visa Card is being used in a country without being informed, they would think your account was hack or card stolen and is being used elsewhere. They are right in every capacity to protect your resources by blocking the transaction and subsequently putting a restriction on the card until they can verify the use. Trust me! You really do not want to fall in this mess. Imagine the stress associated with trying to call a financial institution here in the US when you are about 9,000 miles away somewhere in West Papua or on the island of The Philippines. What will happen is that you will have to wait until folks in the US goes are working (time difference stress), buy tremendous amount of credit (very expensive to call back to the US), call your bank, probably put on hold for several minutes if not hours, listen to some annoying automated message of some robots, asked several repeated questions about your identity (verification process), probably put on hold again for the person speaking to you to talk to their supervisor (your call minutes is almost ended), and if you are luck, problem solve or the worst case, your time, resources, etc wasted and there you are having to repeat the process again. So, you don’t really want to be in this situation. Call your banks, credit card companies and let them know where you are going and that you will use your cards at the ATM while abroad. Watch out for ATM fees, they are like vampires that suck your money from your account. This is very important! It could eat up your budget significantly. Most travelers rarely pay attention to this until you return and see how much money was paid using the ATM.

9. DO NOT CARRY ONBOARD OR PLACE IN CHECKED-IN LUGGAGES PROHIBITED ITEMS

The FAA as well as aviation authorities in other countries are very strict on hazardous items being transported via civilian airlines. Here is a link to some resources released by the FAA: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/hazmat/media/materialscarriedbypassengersandcrew.pdf. Carrying items that are restricted could delay your time and attract unnecessary attention on you. Certain items could be carried, however, there are strict process put in place for those items. Contact your airline carrier well in advance about your plan and they would let you know how to proceed.

10. Carry few cash

I overlook or forget this almost each time I travel. How much to carry? Well, I don’t have an answer to that question. I would say as much as would be needed to survive in case there is an emergency. The issue here is not to attract unwanted attention to you when revealing cash. Just watch your back and cautious!

11. Track your air travel mileage

Most airlines provide travel rewards for those flying with them. Make use of these opportunities as cumulative mileages could land you and your family a ‘free fly’ adventure. Contact your favorite airline(s) and register before your next trip.

12. Travel green

Traveling abroad requires significant mileages, which caused pollution. As much as possible, reduce your vacation plans to destinations abroad to local or much closer alternatives. Or prioritize green airlines. Here is an article that talks about eco-efficient airlines: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/green-airlines-carbon-efficiency_n_885553.html. Or get familiarize with some eco-efficient air travel tips: http://news.travel.aol.com/2011/06/28/eco-friendly-flying-how-to-reduce-your-carbon-footprint-in-the/.

13. Make use of inflight food

Eat and drink enough water while traveling. The ticket fees include food and complimentary drinks. Make use of these and don’t starve yourself as most international travels last for few hours. Make sure you notify the airline about your specific nutritional needs. This could be done while booking your ticket. If for any specific personal reason(s) you can’t eat food provided, make sure you have some snacks with you.

14. Choose the seat you like

You will most likely be seated throughout the flight. While the option of seat choice depends on several factors (other passengers, number of available vacant seats, etc) choose the seat you would like to be seated in. Note that this would have to be verified by the airline. This post is specific to the economy class passengers:)

15. Are you flying with children?

If you have kids traveling along with you make sure you inform the travel agency and or the airline in advance to make sure they have that information in order to provide you with the necessary assistance to make your trip and the experience of your kids an adventure. Take in your carry on some toys for your kids look for their favorite ones. This could help you a lot. If your departure time requires you to be at the airport 2-hours before boarding start going their 3-hours before because you have kids and that could take time to arrive on time.

16. Arrive at the airport on time

Well, I was a victim of this underestimating traffic in Providence in 2007 when I had a 6:00pm flight from Providence to Richmond, VA. I started traveling 3 hours early and what should have lasted 30-45 minutes. In the midst of traffic I was 10 minutes late. I had to rebook a different flight.

17. Watch out for airports taxes

Most countries you will be traveling to requires airport taxes before you depart some usually paid directly to the airline when you check in or at the immigration officer before your passport is stemmed. Make sure you have some local currency to handle this fee as you will not be allowed to board without paying the appropriate airport tax. Here is a link provided by the International Air Travel Agency (IATA), which provides prior information on specific customs, currency, and airport tax regulations [http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/customs-currency-airport-tax-regulations.htm#]. This could help you plan well. Just select the country of your destination and search.

18. Read about the cities/countries of your destination at least before heading there

You could use the CIA country fact book for this, but that in itself is so formal, but provides credible information. If you are familiar with the language of your destined cities/countries, try navigating online for credible information of what life looks like there, areas to visit, food, people, culture, local norms, etc. Some prior knowledge and information is always helpful. If your country has an embassy in that country, visit the link of your country’s embassy in the country and get to know what relations is like at least from what you read.

19. Do what the locals ‘legally’ do

This is a very easy strategy to get localized if you intent to stay much longer. Even if your stay is brief, don’t act differently. This doesn’t mean doing everything they do, but don’t act differently. You want to make use of your experience, so, stop talking, look, listen, learn, do, and share. Good strategy? I bet!

I hope there were some useful information in this post for your next travel, good luck, and have fun!

Some Photos from Laos

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