25 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling
While travel and adventure is an amazing experience, there is always the safety aspect to be aware of. Traveling to a foreign country comes with some safety concerns, especially for someone who is not a well seasoned traveler. Travel to most countries is generally safe, but there are some things that every traveler should be conscientious of. Check out these tips for safe travel:
1-Know where you’re going. Do some research before the trip and know the destination, know if there is something that you need to be wary of. Check the State Department website to get information on the country you are traveling to, current threats and warnings of the location.
2- Take only what you need for where you are going. Leave the rest of it locked up in your hotel, hostel, apartment, etc. You know-don’t bring all the cash you have with you to every attraction/location you go to during your travels.
3-If flying, put all valuables in your carry on bag, preferably the purse/backpack that will be placed under the seat in front of you. This will reduce the likelihood of something getting damaged as well as something getting stolen. Keep your eyes on it!
4-Spend the extra money to stay safe. You may need to pay a little more to stay at a hotel in a safer location or one that doesn’t expose you to bedbugs or asbestos (yes..I have had this happen!!) or spend the money to pay for a cab instead of walking through dark and daunting streets at night and coming face to face with a wandering spirit (I’m kidding….sort of). But in all seriousness, spending a little bit of extra money can make you safer in the long run.
5-Get Travel Insurance. You may think that nothing will happen, you’ve been on trip after trip and nothing has happened. You have never missed your flight because you’re super organized, you’ve never become so ill that you had to cancel, and nothing major has ever happened right before you planned to travel. But the thing is…you never know what could happen! It’s the one time that it does that you will wish you purchased the travel insurance! If you can afford it I would definitely opt to get it to protect your travels.
6- Check in with family or friends on a regular basis. Make sure that a family member or friend knows where you are going, and let them know every once in a while that everything is going as planned.
7-Know essential words in the local language for emergency situations. Do some research before you go. Have emergency phone numbers handy. Be prepared so that if something does occur and you need help right away you will know how to get it.
8- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program is complimentary from the United States Government and is designed to make your travel destination’s embassy aware of your arrival to the destination. You will constantly get safety alerts and updates at your destination.
9-Don’t Share to Much with Strangers. It is easy when traveling to a foreign country to want to have someone you can rely on for assistance if needed. But never get so comfortable that you tell them information that may place yourself at risk, such as your exact itinerary, hotel location, etc. The majority of locals may be genuinely trying to help, but there are scammers out there. You don’t want to fall into their traps!
10-Try to Blend In
Before you travel be sure to check local laws and dress codes. Some countries have very specific dress codes that are enforced and some things that are legal and considered normal where you live may not be acceptable at your destination. Always try to dress like the locals to avoid standing out and drawing attention to yourself.
11-Don’t leave your personal items unattended. While visiting a location don’t leave your backpack or purse unattended, especially if there are valuables! If you set your purse down to snap a photo anyone could come up, grab it, and run off without being noticed. Keep track of all your personal items at all times.
12- Learn basic self defense. Knowing how to defend yourself may come in handy, you never know when you will come into contact with someone with ill intentions. Keep in mind these situations are generally the exception rather than the norm, but it never hurts to be prepared.
13- Stay aware of your surroundings. As discussed above, keep an eye on your belongings. Be aware of what’s going on around you.
14-Have emergency cash hidden somewhere. Putting some cash in your shoe will most likely guarantee you have some emergency cash should you get robbed or leave your wallet somewhere. Make sure the cash is in local currency. You may need this cash to get back to your hotel room, it may just save the day!
15-Food and Water. Be mindful of any risks when consuming foriegn food. Be aware of any food specific diseases that you may at risk for and ensure that all food is properly cooked. A rule of thumb to follow with drinking water is if you don’t know 100% for sure that the water you are consuming is safe…do not drink it!
16- Use ATMs wisely. Before using an ATM check your surroundings. Be aware of anyone who may be trying to look over your shoulder to get information. Shield the ATM while putting in any pins or other information. If you notice anyone suspicious while taking out cash cancel the transaction and leave. Put your card, cash, and receipt away immediately after taking it out.
17- Don’t put anything in your back pocket. Pick-pocketers will aim for the back pocket as it is the easiest and less noticeable spot for them to grab and go. If there is anything sticking out in any of your pockets this will also increase your chances of getting pick-pocketed. Keep everything out of sight!
18- Pack a first aid kit. Having a small, travel friendly first aid kit that fits easily into a purse or backpack can be of great help. You may injure yourself or get bit by a dog and having some antibiotic ointment will be of great convenience.
19-Stay (relatively) sober. Drinking impairs your judgement and makes you an easier target for muggers and scammers. Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a good drink while on vacation but don’t drink so much that you don’t know where you are or that you will make poor decisions.
20-Travel in Numbers. A solo traveler may draw more attention from muggers than a group of people together would. It’s easier to take on one person than two, three, or more people. If you are traveling solo be aware of any safety recommendations and take greater precautions to maintain your safety.
21- Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Our intuitions are there for a reason, if a situation feels unsafe or unsettling, remove yourself from it. If someone seems off and gives you bad vibes…avoid them. Trust your gut and stay safe!
22-Keep an extra copy of important documents. People lose stuff. It happens, no matter how organized you are. Having an extra copy of an essential document may save you a lot of stress and hassle.
23-Be wary of public wi-fi. Public wifi is not always secure and hackers lie in wait to attack. Hackers may be able to access personal information if you are using public wifi. Be sure to turn off file sharing and to be wary of what you do while using public wifi.
24-Try to stick to the more well known tour companies. This will decrease your chances of getting scammed and increase the likelihood of a quality experience.
25- Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines. Trying to foreign countries may expose you to a variety of different diseases that you may not be at home. Make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date. Research ahead of time any health warnings for the destination you are traveling to and make sure you have gotten any recommended vaccinations.
Always be sure to use common sense…if something doesn’t feel right avoid it!