Traveling is exciting, adventurous and becomes a life time memory!
But it can become scary if you overlook safety in a foreign land. To make sure you stay safe while traveling, OffAtEveryThing decided to put the questions in front of experts for best practices they have tested.
See what safety tips they have suggested for you when traveling.
Tip 1. Learn self defense. It is the best travel gift I have ever given myself. As a solo female traveller, it can unfortunately not be the case of ‘if’ you have to use self defense skills but ‘when’. I have been travelling for almost 8 years and rarely had any trouble but I did have to use my Jiu Jitsu skills last year in India. Teach yourself how to protect yourself.
Tip 2. Dress appropriately according to the culture you are in. As a woman, you may be required to cover your head, shoulders, chest or ankles for religious or cultural reasons. Be respectful and abide by the cultural laws. Dressing the part is also a great way to blend into the crowd and not stand out.
Tip 3. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Even if you are a little nervous or anxious, don’t let anyone see this. Act confident and reassured and this will make you look less vulnerable.
Name: Annette White
Luckily, every year hundreds of thousands of people travel without incident. Of course bad things can happen (whether you are in a foreign country or at home), but they are not as common as you may think. Even so, being prepared and taking normal precautions can ease your fearful mind. Here are 3 of my favorite safety tips while traveling internationally:
Tip 1. Equip yourself with common medications prior to leaving, so you can avoid a doctor’s visit or having to try to find a pharmacy. I always carry an over-the-counter pain medicine (such as aspirin), anti-diarrheal medication, nose spray, antibiotic ointment, cold medicine, and allergy tablets.
Tip 2 Make copies of your passport. Leave one at home and take one with you, storing it in a different location than the original. You can also take a photo of it to keep on your phone. If you lose your passport, you will want to make sure to be able to prove your citizenship.
Tip 3. Understand the transportation system in each city, so you are not caught in the bad section of town without a way to get out. You can ask the hotel concierge about buses and subways. Plus, have them recommend reputable taxi companies, ones that won’t overcharge because you are a tourist. Also, grab a few hotel business cards as soon as you arrive. They come in handy if you get lost or need to take cab back to the hotel and the driver doesn’t speak English.
Tip 1. Check out forums of the place you’re going to – e.g. Lonely Planet Thorn Tree. There are loads of safety tips on there for all sorts of destinations.
Tip 2. Use social media to meet other like minded travellers and stay in a group.
Tip 3. If your gut instinct is telling you a situation doesn’t feel safe, it’s probably right! Get out of there if that’s the case.
Besides all the adrenaline and the beautiful adventures when traveling in a foreign country, there may be small problems that can destroy all your plans. I myself have had a few issues, so my accumulated experience taught me a lot about traveling safely. These are 3 of the most important tips and tricks I can offer:
Tip 1. Beware of the quality of the water
Unfortunately, not all countries in the world have good tap water. Even so, there are restaurants that will serve you tap water, not taking into account the danger. Do a little research about this and choose to drink the water bottled water instead. There is also the option to acquire a water purifier.
Tip 2. Have copies of your most important documents
All sorts of unpleasant situations may occur during a trip to a foreign country. You may lose your documents or they could be stolen from you. Therefore, it would be ideal and smart to make sure you make copies of all important documents. I recommend you have copies in physical format but also saved on the laptop, phone, stick, and email.
Tip 3. Try to dress and behave like a local
This trick will relieve you of a lot of problems that a typical tourist can encounter. By dressing and behaving like a local, you will not attract attention to yourself, which means you will not be the target of thieves. Besides, you’ll feel like you’re part of that place, and that will give you some extra confidence.
Name: Francis Tapon
Tip 1. Save a copy of all your important documents in the cloud (and make sure it’s a place where you don’t need 2-factor authorization to access it in case someone steals your phone). One thing that people usually forget to do is to take a photo of their travel visa. So after you get your visa on your passport, take a photo of it, and back it up on the cloud (e.g., you can email it to yourself).
Tip 2. If you’re getting into a taxi or car that you’re not 100% sure about, take a photo of the license plate (and ideally the driver). Send it to someone and let the driver know that you’re doing that. It’s a subtle way of warning him in case he’s planning to kidnap or rob you. That should discourage potential criminals.
Tip 3. Save the local police numbers on your speed dial.
Name: Jeremy Albelda
Tip 1. Always tell someone where you are going to be traveling/where you’re going to be staying in case something happens to you.
Tip 2. Call your credit card/bank and set up a travel notification so they don’t put a hold on your card when you make a transaction or take out cash.
Tip 3. Bring a travel towel!
Name: Joan Torres
Tip 1. Buy High Risk countries travel insurance – Many people don’t know that your normal travel insurance won’t cover countries where governments advise against all but essential travel. Do some research and buy a proper travel insurance for the destination you go.
Tip 2. Do Couchsurfing – Couchsurfing is an online community for backpackers where you can contact people in any country and stay at their house for free. Couchsurfing members are trustworthy and, in these sort of destinations, they will always look after your safety.
Tip 3. Stay in touch with your loved ones – Buy a local SIM Card and let a friend know your daily itinerary, every day of the week. This way, in the unlikely case something happened to you, they will know where you had been the last time.
Name: Jonny Blair
Tip 1. Get Local People to Take You Around
This is very important. Make friends with a local person in advance and ask them to be your guide and friend. Once other locals see that you have contacts, friends in their country, they will be more open to you and less likely to cause you any harm.
Tip 2. Use the Lockers in Hostels
So many people leave their belongings lying around on the floor, bed etc. in hostels when that very room has a locker. Please use the locker. Even if it is dodgy – any potential thief that enters your room are more likely to steal the stuff that they see is open and readily available rather than the items that are locked away.
Tip 3. Travel with a Photocopy of your passport
Always have at least one photocopy of your passport on you. This has so many purposes and advantages. In hotels, in travel agents, even going out at night into bars etc. you never have to carry your original on you as it could easily be stolen, lost or taken off you by corrupt police.
Name: Kim Yap
“Three of the best things I learned while traveling in a foreign land are:
Tip 1. Avoid putting all your cash/credit cards all in one place. One simple mistake of losing your wallet (or getting robbed) will knock you out in one punch. You’ll be left empty-handed. I suggest to keep some money in a separate pouch, leave it in your hotel room safe if you’re comfortable with that, and consider that as your emergency fund.
Tip 2. Losing your passport abroad will get you into big trouble. So, it’s best to have a scanned copy of your passport on your phone (or even a photocopy would do) whenever you travel. Doing this will help your local embassy process your emergency travel document much faster.
Tip 3. Learn how to recognize scams. Read up on the most popular scams of the country you’re visiting by searching online to know how you can avoid these misfortunes.
Tip 1. Watch Out For Dangerous Animals
There are dangerous animals in most countries you’ll travel around. So it’s crucial you research the country you’re traveling to, and know how to behave responsibly if your itinerary means crossing paths with wildlife. For instance, hikers in Australia might need to take precautions against snakes, trekkers in India might encounter tigers, and the odd mountain lion has been known to attack joggers in the United States!
Tip 2. Staying Well Away From Politics
Locals might try to drag you into discussions about politics. If you read the news at home I’m sure you’ll know what is going on in their country. Keep it to yourself to avoid any trouble.
You never really know who you’re speaking to even if they appear friendly. Things could turn ugly if you say the wrong thing. You should also refrain from talking about the political situation in your home country.
And you shouldn’t post anything controversial on social media while you’re there. Government bodies watch your online behavior, and travelers have been jailed before for something as simple as a tweet.
Tip 3. Don’t Carry Too Much Equipment
Take your laptop, smartphone, camera, iPad, Kindle, and other gadgets, and decide if you truly need them with you while traveling. A lot of the time it’s much easier leaving most of your equipment at home where it’s safe.
Not only will you have to carry everything around, but you’ll need to keep an eye on it at all times. And traveling with a lot of valuables can often make you a target to thieves.
Tip 1. Trust your guts! It’s good to be prepared for a trip, but do not book all in advance, maybe the first 1-2 nights. From there on try to stay spontaneous and flexible and see what happens. Get lost when in you are in a new destination and wander around. Walk more than usual. You will then have experiences which you will never forget… and to 95% in a positive way. 🙂 That sounds all a bit riskful, compared traveling with a tour group, but if you trust your guts, you should be fine.
Tip 2. If traveling solo or individual, stay in areas where people are, especially at night. If there aren’t any, take a taxi for getting back to the hotel.
Tip 3. And if you should get robbed, don’t carry all your money with you and at the same place. If you travel in areas which are known for pickpockets, use a second wallet, where you just have a bit of the money in. Give them that and make them happy, while you still stick to the bigger amount yourself.
Name: Michela Fantinel
When traveling to a foreign land it is a good idea to prepare yourself so as to make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible. Here are my 3 best tips to make this happen:
Tip 1. Make yourself familiar with local customs and laws as to what you can and cannot do. You may be surprised to find out that you may get a fine for trivial things like drinking water or eating food in public transportation or chewing a gum on streets.
Tip 2. Keep a family member or a best friend informed of your movements, send them an updated travel plan including accommodation addresses and phone numbers.
Tip 3. Make sure you purchase travel insurance before getting to your destination and that the policy covers you for all planned activities and tours, including medical evacuation.
Name: Ric Gazarian
Traveling is one of the best experiences anyone can have to learn, grow, and explore. Of course, when traveling you should take several steps to ensure a safe trip.
Tip 1. Make sure you make copies of all documents and cards. I scan or take photographs of passports, licenses, ATM cards, credit cards and everything else of importance. I then place a copy in my DropBox folder. Make sure you take scans of both the front and back of the cards, so you have the security code and phone number. If you lose any documents or are robbed, you will have the digital versions so you can cancel and replace the documents more readily.
Tip 2. Separate your valuables. Make sure you have a backup. Keep some backup credit cards and cash in a separate place besides on your person. You don’t want to get robbed or lose all of your credit cards and cash and not have a secret stash.
Tip 3. Take advantage of car riding apps, like Uber, Lyft, GrabTaxi, GG, Yandex, or any of the others. Besides saving money, these drivers are vetted at some level and the app will also provide some additional security.
Name: Sarah-Jane Begonja
Travel is a wonderful thing, but it is also something which we need to take seriously. Heading into regions of the world that are totally different to what you’re used to can leave you vulnerable to risks. In this current troublesome climate, there is also a risk of becoming involved in something which you have no control over, be it terrorism, political unrest, etc.
Whilst we should never let things like this stop us from heading off to explore the corners of the globe, we do need to take our safety and security seriously. So, what can you do to failsafe your trip, freeing you up to have the time of your life?
Common sense will see you through many of life’s risks, and that goes for travel too, but the top three tips below should definitely be at the forefront of your mind too.
Tip 1. Stay in Touch as Much as Possible
Social media platforms such as Facebook have introduced a mechanism where you can tick yourself off as safe during an adverse incident somewhere in the world. This is something you should definitely do, but staying in touch as much as possible with people back home is a must do also. You can do this by finding Wi-Fi hotspots (much easier nowadays),or by purchasing a sim card in the country you’re traveling in, so you can top it up with data. WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber, Instagram, these are all ways to check in back home and alert people to any issues you might have.
Tip 2. Keep up to Date With News
Have an app on your phone where you can regularly check out any developments in the region you’re currently in, and the region(s) you’re planning to travel to next. Any advice given by official bodies should be heeded without hesitation. Knowing ahead of time if there is likely to be an issue is important, but it’s also important to remember that things can happen without warning. If you find yourself in the middle of an unexpected incident, listen to officials around you and do as you are advised to do.
Tip 3. Avoid Attracting Undue Attention
Don’t flash your brand new iPhone, don’t wave around your fancy camera – this is making you a target for problems! At the same time, make sure you dress appropriately for the place you’re visiting, and if this means covering up, it’s advisable to do it. By avoiding undue attention, you are cutting down your safety risk ten fold.
Common sense and a little forward thinking is all it takes to stay safe on your travels.
Name: Sarita Pandey
Tip 1. Find out more about the place you are travelling to, particularly the notorious areas and unsafe regions within the destination. I usually take help on google or get in touch with people on FB travel groups for such information.
Tip 2. Familiarize yourself with some key words in the foreign language like doctor, help me, hello, thank you, where is etc. For some countries like China, i had asked some Chinese friends to write my hotel address and address of Indian embassy in Mandarin and i held on to that note with my life!
Tip 3. Extremely important- you must know about things that are illegal to carry into the destination country. For example, a spice called Poshto is illegal in Middle East and is used commonly in India. The punishment for carrying it into this region is jail term. Similarly bringing alcohol is illegal in Maldives. They may not arrest you for it but they will surely keep it in their custody for a month. If your stay is longer you can expect not to get it back.
Finally the expert opinions end here.
OffATEveryThing pays deep gratitude to all the experts who contributed to the roundup post.