There are always things that threaten to disrupt or even ruin your vacation because you did not make yourself aware of them beforehand. This article contains some of the most common or important tips that travelers should know—especially those who are traveling outside of the United States. Awareness of these may help to make your trip significantly more relaxed and enjoyable.

1) If you’re taking your laptop computer on your vacation, there are some important things to remember. First, make sure your carrying case is sturdy and padded. It’s liable to go through some bumps and bruises. If you’re traveling internationally, remember to bring electrical converters/adaptors for different countries. Also it’s always wise to bring a mobile broadband card, a surge protector, and an Ethernet cable, though some locations may provide this. To be extra careful, you might want to bring along a back up device of the computer contents.

2) If you’re traveling to one country but have a lay-off in another one, see if the ticket allows you to stay a day or two in that stop-off nation to take in some sights. Why not enjoy sights in two places.

3) Instead of visiting the same old landmarks and boring museums in some city, why not go to local areas and observe life. You may even meet some friendly locals and get introduced to customs or places only they know about. You may end up with some stories that will be the envy of the folks back home.

4) Especially internationally, become familiar with your destination before you go there. It can make the visit more enjoyable as you see favorite places you’ve only read about. Don’t get freaked out that you can’t communicate. If your stay will be a lengthy one, you can buy a gadget for between $50-$500 that will speak the sentence you choose it to speak in a foreign language. If you wish, you can buy the cheaper version that is just programmed to say very important or emergency statements.

5) On a family vacation, instead of picking up cheap souvenirs your relatives will sell in their next garage sale, why not buy some unusual or funny post cards and have the kids write notes telling about the adventures you’re having. This is almost guaranteed to be more popular than the cheap trinkets you bring back.

6) If the kids are driving you half out of your gourd, park somewhere and traipse through the countryside, walk through a park, or let the kids climb trees or run through meadows. It will entertain the kids plus they will probably be ready to snooze at their bedtime instead of at midnight.

7) Always pack your jewelry, medications, or other valuables either in a waist pack under your shirt or in your carry-on luggage. Also carry a back-up copy or your travel documents, photocopy of your passports, and recent photos of your family, in case you lose one of them. If you’re traveling with several pieces of baggage pack some of each person’s belongings into each piece. If you lose one, each family member will still have something to wear.

8) On some tours and cruises, photographers will begin taking pictures of you and your family. You will be flattered, but if he begins getting you posing in various picturesque places, you can bet that he will want a fat piece of cash for the photos when the tour is over, and he’ll only sell them as a package. Better to invest in a good quality camera yourself and make memories you will be able to afford.

9) Always keep the tipping in mind when you’re totaling up the remaining cash you have to spend. Especially on cruises and tours, the cabin attendants, waiters, and tour guides will expect a nice tip, and many will deserve one.

10) Make sure you take more than enough of your medications on your trip. You could end up paying huge fees for some doctor’s consultation in your place of destination. At least carry a valid prescription with the seal and registration number of the doctor to avoid hassles.

11) When traveling in countries that are somewhat risky, be cautious. Register with your embassy or consulate, let others know of your travel plans, and keep a mental note of safety havens like police stations, hotels, or hospitals. Try not to venture out alone. Refuse unexpected packages and report any you see in a conspicuous spot. Be sure of the identity of strangers before opening the door of your lodging or hotel room. Formulate a plan of action in case the worst should happen. I know it sounds like James Bond or something, but just be aware at all times of the people around you and how they are behaving.

So explore the world, safely and wisely, but prepare well for your trip. Then sit back and enjoy the sights and experiences of fresh, fascinating cultures and new experiences that will seal memories with friends and family for a lifetime.