Since I found out I’m going to Haiti this Saturday about a week ago, I’ve had to fast track learning everything I need to know for traveling to a third world country.
Here are some resources I found ranging from travel sites to recommended vaccines to common phrases.
The US Department of State has an international travel section with information on every country, as well as travel advisories. There’s also a section to register your trip.
I have no idea what the internet situation will be where I’m staying, so it would be nice if they had an SMS alert option. But this is still a good place to start and get a basic rundown of what you need to do when traveling.
CDC Traveler’s Health / MD Travel Health
Since I’m not going with a group, I had to find out what vaccines I needed myself. These two sites had a great rundown on what diseases I might encounter and what I should be vaccinated against, as well as health precautions while I’m there (don’t drink the water).
This was actually pretty tricky and really depends on each county. The best thing to do would be to ask your doctor where you can get vaccinated. I don’t have a primary care doctor, but I had heard the Department of Health in my county administered travel vaccines for free. However, when I called them they said that was one of the first things to get cut this year.
I eventually found a travel clinic that had everything in stock. I already had about half the vaccines needed due to all the college requirements, so I only needed Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Insurance usually doesn’t cover this, so they don’t bother checking, so I had to pay in full ($266) and try to get reimbursed later. They also gave me a prescription for anti-malaria drugs.
When I found out I was going to Haiti the first thing I did was turn to Wikipedia. The great thing about country profiles is you can get a good gist of everything quickly and then have the option to read further into the more detailed articles about the country.
I’ve also been reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and watched The Agronomist, both good primers to the history of Haiti. Look for recommended books and movies in articles or blog posts.
I’ve traveled to other countries before and always managed to get by with English, but I always wished I knew at least a little bit of the native language to make things easier and not be the lame American.
So this time I’m trying to learn as many Creole phrases as I can in a week. Since Creole is not the most popular of languages, there aren’t that many resources for it.
I’m a big fan of Pimsleur, so I got the basic Creole course which I’ll listen to on my 7 hour drive to the airport. If you happen to be interested in Creole specific sites with phrases, the best ones I found is this PDF from Hands on Disaster Response and Traveling Haiti.
I’ve converted the phrases to flash cards to memorize. I’ve also researched phrases specific to what I’m doing and most likely need, such as, “Can I take your picture?”
Remember to follow me as I go around Haiti.