International Tips: One Health: Information in an Interdependent World
1. Travel health insurance
Although no one wants to have a health emergency when traveling, it is important to be prepared. Think seriously about purchasing health insurance when traveling outside of your home country. As foreign nationals, you will not have health insurance coverage while in the United States other than any international health coverage you have under your existing health coverage. Make sure to check on what your health coverage will cover while traveling outside of your home country.
You may consider purchasing supplemental insurance in your home countries or purchasing from a US company.
2. In case of emergency
In case of emergency, whom should you contact? In the United States, if you have an emergency requiring medical, police, or fire station attention immediately, you should dial 911 on your phone.
3. Create your own safety plan
Visa: You will probably need a visa to visit the United States from another country (travel.state.gov/visa/). Look into what you need to do now, as this may not be something you can do quickly or online.
Lost passport: Make photocopies of yoru passport before you leave. Copy your personal information page and visa (if a visa is required). Contact your embassy for assistance to obtain a replacement passport
Keep travel document information available in case of emergency: Give a family member or someone you trust information about your travel arrangements. You may wish to consider leaving a photocopy of your front passport page, visa, and ticket information with that person.
Identify the location of your embassy or consulate: The US State Department has a site to help you with this: Web Sites of Foreign Embassies in the U.S.
Accessing money: Before departure, ask your bank and credit card companies if your credit and debit cards will work in the countries you are visiting and alert them where and when you will be traveling abroad. Make sure your credit card has sufficient available credit to cover unexpected expenses.
Money: When you are carrying money on your person while traveling abroad, it is suggested that you should not put all the money in one location.
Cell phone coverage and costs: Evaluate options for cell phone use overseas, and verify that your arrangements will work at your destination.
WiFi: Some hotels offer free WiFi, so that is worth looking for when you book. There will be free WiFi at the convention center, and this is a good way to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues when you are away. Bring some mobile technology with you to access the WiFi.
Packing: Check what you may bring on your flight with the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Most major airlines will let you bring a poster carrier as well as your hand luggage, but it might be worth checking with them first.
4. Currency exchange
When you arrive in Boston, at the Logan International Airport, you may exchange currency at American Express Currency Exchanges located in Terminals A, B, C, and E.
There is also a Travelex located on Boylston Street, a few blocks from the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center (745 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116; 617.266.7560).
ATMs/Bankomats are generally available 24 hours per day, but most banks are only open Monday–Friday, generally from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
The average tip in US restaurants is 15%, which is also a good guide for most other service industry professionals (such as bartenders, taxi drivers, tour guides, etc.). Higher-end restaurants sometimes suggest a minimum tip of 18%, and your bill may arrive with this calculation already made, particularly if you are in a large group. It is customary to tip $1 for each piece of luggage for shuttle bus drivers and hotel employees who carry (or store) your bags.
6. Are you over 55?
Some hotels and bus tours have a discount rate for seniors that you can get if you are 55 or over. It is worth checking for this.
7. MLA evening parties
Plan to attend the International Visitors Reception, Sunday, May 5, 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. No ticket needed, just show up. Check the Official Program for location. Hosted by the MLA International Cooperation Section.
You are also welcome to attend “Taste of Boston,” Tuesday, May 7, 7:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m. This is a ticketed event. One ticket is included with meeting registration Package A. Or purchase a ticket on the registration form.
Some MLA sponsors have excellent parties and other social gatherings around the meeting. Contact your major suppliers before you go to One Health to see if they are sponsoring social gatherings and if they can send you tickets. Find the name of your local supplier representative and mention it at the booths in the exhibit hall at One Health, and then the US representatives may give you a ticket as a valued customer. If all this fails, if you have signed up for the MLA mentoring program, your mentor may be able to help you get a ticket.
8. Skype calls to US, toll-free, and freephone numbers are free
This is good to know if you are trying to call toll-free numbers to sort out hotel bookings or other matters from outside the United States.
Toll-free calling instructions:
- You will need to use your Skype keypad and be able to call a US number.
- Here is a link on how to access the toll free numbers. You should not incur any Skype charges.
- Accessing your Skype dial pad (you will need this to enter an access code to enter the call): https://support.skype.com/en-us/faq/FA20/Calling-phones-and-mobiles-Windows or https://support.skype.com/en-us/faq/FA10806/Calling-phones-and-mobiles-Mac.
9. MLA has a program to help you find a roommate and save on hotel costs
The Roommate Matching Service is a great way to save money and make friends with your fellow attendees. Two or more of you share, and you can afford to stay in one of the meeting hotels close to all the action.
10. Loyalty programs
Hotels and airlines have loyalty programs, and it is worth joining them when you book your flights or stay, because sometimes members have benefits that start as soon as you join. Even as a basic member with very few points, you may be able to have a cheap rate on a late departure room or be among the first to be offered an upgrade. You may travel or stay with this firm again, so it may be worth having the points for future benefits.
11. MLA continuing education (CE) courses
Be sure to check out the roster of pre- and post-meeting CE courses.
Note: MLA will offer CE309 Librarians Without Borders®: Internet-Based Information Resources for Health Professionals in Low and Emerging Income Countries. This course is free for persons who qualify for the MLA Member Discount (see page 21 of the printed Preliminary Program) and $50 for nonmembers. Visit the course website for more information, or see page 16 in the printed Preliminary Program.
Check the conference blog for more meeting tips.