Depending on the trip you are planning you may feel a bit nervous and worried if all is going to be okay and if you will be safe. The thing to keep in mind is that, honestly, most of the world is quite a safe place to visit. However, there are some key things that you should keep in mind to ensure your safety and make sure that you don’t get into a bad situation. So from our personal experiences, here are some of our top travel safety tips for your next trip.
1. Research Your Destination
It’s really important to research any destination that you planning to visit. In fact, we have a lot of tools and information about this in our How to Plan a Trip section of this site. Of course most people will be researching things to do and places to visit, but you should also research about any safety issues or scams that you should be aware of.
For the most part, people are kind and generous all around the world. But in some destinations there could be some scams targeting unsuspecting visitors who are simply trying to capitalize on an opportunity to take advantage of someone who did not do their research. Things like the famous tuk-tuk scams in Thailand, etc.
Further, I’ve found that researching maps and streets near your hotel or popular attractions can help you to feel more confident. It’s proven that if you project confidence and don’t bumble around like a lost tourist looking at a map can lessen your chances of becoming a target for scams or any other dodgy people.
2. Try to Blend in (aka – don’t look like a tourist!)
As I just mentioned, projecting confidence can help you not look like a tourist and help you to blend in with the locals. But another way to blend in with the locals is by your appearance.
While you may not have the exact attire of the locals, you should opt to wear more low-key clothing items or muted colors that will help you to blend in. But even if you can’t totally blend in – at least try NOT to stand out!
For example, let’s say you are on your first cruise and will be stopping in some other countries. When you are out exploring the port don’t wear things like bright Hawaiian shirts or clothing with giant American Flags on them. You might as well walk around screaming “I’m a tourist…take advantage of me!”
It’s like putting a big target on yourself, and why would you do that?!?
3. Copies of Itineraries & Documents – Share With Friends / Family
Whenever you travel you should make sure to have copies of important information, whether in the digital form or physical form. For me, if it’s a big trip with lots of details to keep sorted I actually created a Cheat Sheet template.
I use this template over and over to gather all the important details like confirmation numbers, contact information, and other notes about my trip. Rather than having to reference a bunch of documents or scattered emails, it’s all in one place.
This is a perfect item to share with your friends a family. You really should let other people know of your itinerary for a variety of safety reasons among others. And it’s much easier to just give them 1 simple document then a whole bunch of documents. So the Cheat Sheet works great!
For international travel, it’s also important that you make copies of important documents such as your passport, visas, etc. Carry these copies and also have electronic copies available for yourself and your family, if needed.
4. Personal and Local Emergency Information
Similar to the previous section, be sure that there is emergency contact information provided to friends and family about where you will be, including hotel phone numbers, etc. In some countries, you may also want to register with the local embassy and make sure they are aware of your travel plans in case of an emergency too.
Also, it’s a good idea to make a note of local emergency contact information too in case you are in a situation where you need help locally. In the States, we always just think of “911” but in other countries, the emergency number could be different. For example, I’m in China right now and the number is “120” for an ambulance and “110” for for police. In Europe, the emergency number is “112.”
These are great items that could go on your Cheat Sheet for yourself, and even friends and family.
5. Keep Your Valuables Safe
It’s always wise to be careful about how much money, jewelry, etc. that you bring with you on a trip. It’s also advisable not to be flashy with these things either. However, there are things that you will need such as credit cards, cash, and electronics (such as our SmartPhones). So take good care where you place these items that they are secure.
During the day when you are out exploring over the shoulder, it’s great to have a day time travel bag that zips, especially for ladies. But there are versions of these for men as well, or even a secure camera bag might work. I even bought a new bag recently that’s quite compact and includes a locking mechanism for the zipper which makes it much more difficult for others to get into without me noticing. These are great if you are going to be in crowded spaces or using mass transit, where pick-pockets may be lurking.
When you are traveling, be sure to keep your most valuable items with you – for example, don’t check a backpack or bag with all your expensive camera equipment or bank cards, etc. Also, when you are in a hotel use their safe if they have one or put away anything that could be tempting if left out in the open.
For money, it’s always good to have different stashes in different places so you are not left with nothing if some is lost or stolen.
6. Contact Your Bank & Be Careful Using ATMs
Speaking of money and banking travel tips, you need to be sure that you contact your bank before you travel to let them know. Some banks, including ours, have very active fraud departments who notify us whenever they think a purchase is suspicious or out of our normal behavior. There have been many times when it was a legitimate purchase which they blocked, and then we got a text message to confirm it was legit.
While it might not be a big deal domestically, but international travel can be a problem if your bank blocks certain transactions or even suspends your card! That would be nightmare to deal with from overseas! So be sure you put a “travel notification” on your cards and let your bank know where you will be traveling and the dates.
Lastly, just like at home you should be careful with ATMs. It’s best to use ATMs from bigger banks and those associated with a bank building so you can go inside the bank if there’s a problem. And of course, be sure to check out the ATM card slot to see if there has been tampering or a skimmer attached to gather your card details. You should also be aware of your surroundings at an ATM – which is why using them during the day and on the bank premises is always the safest option.
7. Bring Emergency Medicine or a First Aid Kit
When traveling, you will undoubtedly be exposed to different things that could make you feel ill. If you are in your home country then you can typically get familiar medicines to treat the illness. But it’s also a good idea to bring extra medicine with you in case of emergencies, or even a first aid kit – especially if your travel plans involve you being away from pharmacies or stores.
However, when you are traveling in a foreign country it may also be a good idea to bring a bit of emergency medicine. In some countries they may have very different medicines, or it might be difficult for you to translate what’s in the bottle. So it’s nice to have some medicine options that you are familiar with.
If you have any type of regular medication that you take, or dangerous allergies then be sure that you carry extra supply of your important prescriptions. Just be sure that you carry the prescription in the original bottle and it has your name clearly written on it (especially if traveling internationally).
8. Have Travel Insurance
Minor illnesses are usually something that can be dealt with, but if you happen to have a more serious situation then it’s good to have some type of travel medical insurance. There are a variety of options out there, but these are especially important if you are traveling overseas because your normal insurance usually is not valid.
For example, while traveling in China I actually stumbled in a hole and ended up fracturing my foot and had to go to the hospital! I needed x-rays, a cast, pain medication, etc. Needless to say my insurance back and home did not cover it!
Another big benefit to having travel insurance is not just for the medical benefits, but for other travel emergencies. For example, sometimes flights are delayed or cancelled. Maybe your luggage is lost. Or maybe you just got super sick right before a big trip and you already paid for it!
These are all situations where travel insurance would be helpful. Depending on your plan, you could get help with hotels or flight re-booking fees for cancellations or delays. You could also get compensation for lost bags or money to go buy new clothes. Or if you needed to cancel a trip at the last minute you could get your money back.
9. Talk to Locals…But Beware if Approached With Unsolicited Advice
We love talking to locals when we travel! It adds a lot to our experience when we can meet other people and learn about their local culture, etc. Locals are also full of great advice, including restaurants, activities, shopping, etc. We’ve had some of our best experiences over the years due to the help from locals!
However, it’s also important to stay vigilant. As a general rule, if a local approaches you and begins to offer advice or ask you to go with them somewhere or do something then you should be wary. Often times this can lead to a scam.
Of course, there are varying situations but it’s just important to be aware. Use your best judgement in these situations, but keep in mind the reason they are approaching you.
10. Use Common Sense!
Last but most certainly not least, is to have some common sense. I’ve spent a lot of years working in the tourism industry and I get it. You are on vacation. You want to check out completely from life and not have to worry, stress or think about things.
But many times I’ve seen people who just seem to check their brain at the boarding gate of their flight.
Using common sense is really important when traveling. It’s important to keep your wits about you and be aware so that you don’t end up in a situation that will tarnish your memories and ruin your vacation.
Travel Safely With These Tips!
Whether you are going on a short weekend trip or an international adventure, being safe on the road is key to having a great experience. We all wanna get away for different reasons, but regardless, keeping these travel safety tips in mind will help you to avoid anything that could make it a bad experience and put yourself at risk.
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