Before Going Abroad
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Leave instructions with friends and relatives as to MAIL. Before leaving home decide on certain addresses. Either give those whom you expect to write the dates for mailing to each such address (I have found this most advantageous) or tell them to allow sufficient time to reach you at each address, including the days letters are likely to await a steamer in the home port. A little lee-way is advisable. If your correspondents use a type-writer, carbon copy to one address and the original to the next one often saves disappointment. Many newspapers carry lists of mail steamer sailings; so do the larger post offices.
Your "steamer letters" or other last word before sailing should be addressed:
Passenger (1st, 2nd, or 3rd class) on S.S
c/o (Name of steamship line)
(or dock from which sailing)
Sailing (or Arriving) (date
Remind your correspondents that letters to most foreign places except Great Britain, Mexico, and American possessions, require five cent postage for the first ounce; three cents extra for each additional ounce. Not only will you pay double for the postage lacking, but in some countries you may have to go to the post office in person to get underpaid letters.
American consuls handle mail matter for traveling Americans free of charge, forwarding at least that sufficiently paid. But it is preferable to lay this task upon other agencies. For example, holders of A.B.A. Cheques are offered free mail service in Paris and London. (In Paris, care of the Bankers Trust Company, 5 Place Vendome; in London, care of Barclays Bank Limited, 1 Pall Mall East, London, S. W. I.) Certain tourist companies, such as Cook's, maintain agencies abroad, where the handling of travelers' letters is all a part of the day's work. Foreign hotels are in the main a trifle less reliable in this matter. Whatever the list of addresses you work out, do not forget to leave forwarding instructions at each place.
CABLING is rarely necessary for the average traveler for pleasure abroad. If you think it likely that you will need to send, or to receive, more than one or two cables during the journey, it will pay you to have a registered cable name. Pick out one or several before leaving and submit them to the superintendent of the telegraph or radio company that serves the town you expect to communicate with. The first name on the list that is satisfactory to the company will be registered for a fee of $2.50 for one year. This registered name may be used either in wiring home or in receiving messages from home, and saves the cost of a street address and of your full name. Every word from addressee to signature is charged for in cablegrams. The cost of cabling ranges from twenty cents a word from. New York to London to fifty cents from the heart of America to Australia. Cables may be sent from most telegraph offices abroad. Deferred week-end messages (taken care of in their turn when no full-paid messages are using the wires, and mailed instead of de-livered at destination) cost about 25—50% of full rates.
The Radio Corporation of America furnishes a less costly service for messages of more than a very few words. These may be sent through the Postal Telegraph Company, and radiograms and cablegrams received in the United States are accepted by the telegraph companies to any point their wires reach. The minimum charge for a radiogram of 20 words or less is $1.20 between New York and London, $2 to Austria, Finland, etc. Week-end Radioletters are somewhat cheaper. "Urgent" radio-grams cost an additional rate; "deferred," half the regular rate. Arrangements may be made to have cablegrams or radiograms opened at your European mailing address and wired on, providing money is left or guaranteed to cover this service.
A CABLE CODE is hardly necessary unless you are going to a remote place for a considerable length of time, or have reason to believe that you will have to exchange long or frequent messages. Weekend letters, deferred messages, or radiograms have reduced the expense of cabling, and travelers of experience have found that a code is sometimes a snare and delusion. As one of them puts it, "If one or the other of the correspondents has not mislaid his code book, the chances are that you will find code words for everything except what you wish to say." Nevertheless, there are times when a simple code is of great value, and for those who feel they need one several are readily available, ranging from the regular commercial codes to shorter ones prepared especially for the traveler. Of the latter, a good one is offered, without charge, by Western Union, of which you can get two or more copies from the local telegraph office. Take one copy with you (it's a small booklet and takes up practically no space) and leave a copy with each person you may have to cable to so they may decode any messages you send.
Some travelers believe it wise to take out ACCIDENT INSURANCE before going abroad. Certainly it is no more needed than for travel in the United States, or in many cases even for remaining in the home city. Note that most life insurance policies bear a clause regarding foreign travel, and particularly in the matter of using aircraft.
In GETTING OFF, do not plan to reach the steamer at the last moment. Ships are even less easily overtaken than trains. Give New York, or whatever your port of departure, a day for the last odds and ends; strange things sometimes crop up.
Do not MISLAY YOUR TICKETS, particularly if you are to appear at the gangplank at the last moment. You may be mistaken for an attempting stowaway. A lost ticket in most cases is equivalent to the loss of the money it cost, and perhaps of the trip itself.
Do not UNPACK YOUR BAGGAGE any more than necessary until the ship leaves the dock. Get a steward to lock your stateroom if you leave it before all non-passengers have gone ashore. Steamship companies are not responsible for losses while in port, and every precaution should be taken. When the ship is at sea, the danger of ordinary thieving is so slight that it is the rule not to lock state-room doors when not occupying your cabin. Jewelry and easily concealed valuables, however, should be turned over to the purser, against receipt, for safe-keeping. There is no charge for this service.