If you love to travel, you’re aware that being safe at all times is one of the main goals of that kind of lifestyle. When abroad, new environments and situations can expose you to new dangers, and a smart traveler will know how to handle any potential hazards or problems. In this post, I’m going to explain some important tips on travel safety to ensure a problem-free and worry-free trip.
One of the most common mistakes travelers make is touring around with their expensive belongings clearly on display. Avoid showing off anything valuable, as this makes you much more likely to be a target of a burglary or mugging. Leave the jewelry, expensive handbags, and designer clothing at home. If for some reason you must travel with items of value, lock them up in a hotel safe.
In addition to hiding your valuables, it’s important to not look like an obvious tourist. I always try to blend into the landscape when traveling, just to fit in, but it also helps keep a target off my back. Tourists are always known to be carrying significant amounts of money, are easy lost and turned around in new places, and are more likely to fall for a scam because they are not always focused on where they are and where they are going. Blending in with the locals is an important travel safety tip for both the young and old alike.
Being robbed of your ID, passport, and/or money would become a nightmare when abroad. If that happens, contact your embassy. Better yet, registering with the embassy ahead of time let’s them know you’re traveling to the country and they can contact you in the event of an emergency. The US offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which allows US citizens who are traveling and/or living abroad to register their trip (for free) with the nearest US embassy. It’s a fantastic service for all US travelers to utilize. Learn more here.
Be sure to also make a copy of your passport’s main identification page as well as your driver’s license or state ID, just in case they get lost or stolen. Be sure to keep these copies in a different location, other than on you (ex. hotel safe). It’s also a good idea to keep some extra credit cards and cash back in that hotel safe so you have alternatives if the worst happens while you’re out touring.
No one ever wants to think of needing travel insurance, but it can bring you piece of mind. If you’re traveling with laptops, cameras, iPads, iPhones and the like, you don’t want to take chances with something being lost or stolen. No matter how careful you can be, things happen, so if it costs you a few hundred dollars for peace of mind while traveling, it’s worth it. Check with your credit card providers because some offer travel insurance as a perk. Click here to read a previous post about travel insurance.
If you are keen on traveling solo, there are specific safety concerns you’ll need to consider. As long as you have other people with you at your destination, you should be able to travel safely easily, but on your own it’s more of a challenge. Nonetheless, you can keep safe by having your phone on you in a tucked away location, staying aware, and a general plan as to where you are going each day. Keep your touring to daylight hours only. It also never hurts to take a self-defense class or two before your trip.
Scams have been around for centuries. Another travel safety tip is simply knowing that there are always sneaky people on the lookout of unsuspecting tourists who might fall for a well executed scam. There are many different types of scams – everything from the ‘ bump and grab’ of the purse, to someone offering you something for ‘free’, to an overpriced taxi, the ‘spill’ on your clothes, to the flirtatious local who starts chatting with you. Do your research online to learn the common scams often done to travelers. There are even certain scams done in certain countries or regions of the world. Click here to learn some common scams and how to avoid them.
If you find yourself in a situation which seems to have the potential for danger, one way to get through it is to seek out a crowd. By placing yourself amongst lots of other people, you will feel safer, and you will probably find that your risk for danger decreases. Seek places with lots of light and lots of people. There, you can then ask someone for help, or call the police, to ensure a safe ride back to your accommodations. Done properly, the crowd can really prove to be your ally.
One of my old school travel safety tips is to always let your family back at home know your itinerary, despite the fact that we now carry phones on us. Staying in touch with friends and family at home will make you feel better, and will keep them in the know. If Mom and Dad are expecting a call and don’t receive one, they will know something might not be right. Even if you would rather not call home, it should make you feel a lot safer to keep in contact with them (especially when traveling alone) and be assured that they have your itinerary and know where you should be each day and night.
Keep your wits about you when traveling, especially if traveling solo. This includes knowing your limits and not getting drunk. You make yourself more of an obvious target if, for example, you’re too drunk to walk normally so a nearby taxi offers to pick you up and then overcharges you. Never leave your drink unattended in any restaurant or bar as well. (If you get into trouble in Canada, contact NationalPardon for help.)
If you’re uncertain about what areas are safe and unsafe to visit, talk to the locals when traveling. People who you can usually trust are hotel desk employees and the concierge, taxi drivers, waiters, and store clerks. You should feel fairly comfortable with people who work in the tourism industry, as they are accustomed to tourists and welcome their business. Be aware of who is around you, where potential dangers lie, and have your head up (avoid staring at the street or sidewalk). Be sure to walk with confidence and carry yourself in a way that doesn’t suggest you might be an easy target.
Taking care of yourself while traveling includes both your mental and physical self. Never push yourself to exhaustion for the sake of “seeing it all.” Travel is supposed to be fun! Be sure to eat small regular meals, drink plenty of water, and if you are doing a lot of walking, be sure to take care of your feet! It seems obvious, but walking is a big part of travel. Only when you fail to take care of your feet will you appreciate the value and importance of proper care! Avoid walking too much in one day if you can. Keep an eye on how your feet feel and find a foot pain doctor nearby should any problems occur.
Travel safety is a key component to ensuring a safe journey and decreasing your risk for adversity. Hopefully, by utilizing the tips above, you can return home happy, healthy, and with a lifetime of memories!
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