Each day, 400,000 incidents of pickpocketing occur around the world. This is only one of several travel safety concerns you should know about.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go on vacation, though. Instead, you should take steps to make sure you can travel safely. Read on to learn our top 12 tips for a safe trip.
- Travel Insurance
No one wants to think about needing to cancel their trip or having emergencies while on vacation, but it can happen. The best approach is to get travel insurance to cover those situations.
In some cases, you’ll be asked if you want to include travel insurance when you book your trip. Even if you don’t see this, you should get the insurance as soon as you’ve planned your trip, no matter how many months away it is.
That way, if something happens that will impact your departure, travel insurance can help. Not every situation is covered, but common scenarios include:
- You have an accident or severe illness
- Work changes, such as being laid off
- Natural disasters at the destination
- Death, injury, or illness of a travel companion or family member
Insurance doesn’t stop once you’ve arrived, either. While traveling, if you lose luggage, have an accident or get sick, or need other emergency assistance, travel insurance can help.
- Research Scams
Second in our list of travel safety tips is to research common scams at your destination. Some of these are easy to spot, but scams change all the time, and they can be quite sophisticated.
Some of the most common scams involve creative ways of picking your pocket or snatching your bag. Others include taxi drivers who aren’t licensed and don’t bring you to your destination without a large payment.
ATMs are also a typical target, and not just because someone might be watching for your PIN. The machine itself might be tampered with so it appears to eat your card, leaving it for the scammer to grab when you leave.
Get ahead of the game by searching online before you leave. Look for common scams at your destination and research the most recent information.
You may also want to bring some type of self-defense equipment in someone tries to take anything by force. Spikes Tactical has some options, but make sure whatever you bring is legal.
Being prepared is the best way to avoid being a victim.
- Don’t Trust Too Quickly
Getting to know the locals is part of the fun of traveling, but you also want to be cautious. You don’t want to share too much information with people you’ve just met, no matter how friendly they are.
Con artists are very good at gaining trust and confidence, so keep your guard up.
- Copies of Important Information
When you’re thinking about how to stay safe, one of the best things you can do is have copies of your important information.
Start with your passport and other IDs. Before you even leave, make copies of them to keep on-hand. This way, you don’t need to carry your passport with you everywhere, and if anything happens to it, you can get a replacement much more easily.
You should also record your credit card information, including the card number and the contact information for the credit card company. In case anything happens to the card, you’ll be able to cancel it before anyone spends with it.
Other information to record includes:
- Travel insurance
- Serial numbers of electronics
- Necessary health information, such as prescription and vaccine details
For all your information, you can have paper copies, but you should also keep electronic versions in the cloud so you can access them at any time.
- Emergency Info
Emergency information is critical when you’re traveling. This includes contact information for the local police or medical services, and you should find out if the country has its own version of 911 for you to use.
In this case, have both electronic and paper copies of the information, so you can easily access it even if your phone is lost or damaged. If possible, laminate the paper copy to give it more protection, and then keep it in your wallet.
- Lock Up
Before you leave for your trip, consider leaving your most valuable items behind. You don’t want to risk losing or damaging anything that you don’t have to.
Even when you go through this process, you’ll still end up bringing something of value, whether it’s your phone, camera, or money. For those items, you should take extra care of them on your trip.
Make sure that wherever you’re staying has a secure location for any valuables. Good hostels will have lockers available, but you can also create a portable safe with a slash-proof backpack and your own locks.
- Take Care with Money
Along with your valuables, you want to be careful with your money. This starts by leaving some of your money and credit cards in a safe location when you’re out and about.
If you’re traveling in a group, also consider splitting up your money so each person has some in case you get separated.
Additionally, to travel safe, each person with money shouldn’t keep it all in one location. Put cash and credit cards in different spots between pockets and zippered compartments in your bags. Avoid using your back pocket, though, since that’s a prime spot for pickpockets.
Bags that go over your shoulder and across your chest are also more secure. You can get brands that are slash-proof and have RFID blocking for extra safety.
- Blend In
One thing that makes tourists a target is that they tend to stand out with both clothing and behavior. To avoid this, do what you can to blend in.
Do some research ahead of time to find out what type of clothing is typical and appropriate for your destination. This will make you less of a target, and it’s also more respectful to the country you’re visiting.
Likewise, you should behave like a local where possible. One aspect of this is seeming confident and acting like you know where you’re going.
Another consideration is what type of interaction is expected and acceptable. In some countries, people greet each other with light kisses on both cheeks, while in other countries, using your left hand to do things like pass food is considered offensive. Make sure you know the norms.
Finally, learn a few local phrases so you can at least greet and thank people in their language.
- Careful with Food and Water
You might not initially think of food and water as part of how to be safe, but it’s an important consideration. The last thing you want on your vacation is to get food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea and not be able to enjoy the sites.
Here are some tips to keep that from happening:
- Drink bottled water or bring your own bottle and filter
- Stick with fruit you can peel
- Avoid foods that have been prepared a long time in advance
- When in doubt, eat cooked foods instead of raw
Also, if you have severe food allergies, make sure you know how to communicate that in the local language.
- Health Safety
When you’re traveling, you want to make sure you have any important medications with you, and that you have enough to last through your whole trip. Unfortunately, some medications are banned in other countries, so you’ll need to make sure yours are legal before you bring them.
Another health safety consideration is getting all the right vaccinations. Depending on where you travel, you might need to get a booster shot or a couple of additional vaccinations.
It’s also important to carry some basic first aid equipment with you. You want to be able to treat small problems, like minor cuts or burns, blisters, and stomach issues while you’re on the go.
- Social Media
One of the common safety tips you’ll hear is to be careful about posting on social media – and with good reason.
You don’t want to advertise the fact that you’re not home since that could lead to a break-in while you’re away. Plus, if you share details about your travel arrangements, you give people an opportunity to plan for robbing you.
- Update Family and Friends
Finally, let someone back home know where you’ll be going.
It’s best to give a family member or friend a copy of your trip plan, so they know where to find you in case something happens. You should also check in with them every few days to let them know if things are still on schedule and that all is well.
Hopefully, they won’t need to use this information, but it’s a good practice to be on the safe side.
Travel Safely and Enjoy Your Trip
To get the most out of your trip, make preparations well in advance, starting with your trip insurance and planning what to bring. Then, when you’re on vacation, you can travel safely and relax, knowing that you’ve got everything covered.
Want more travel tips? Check out our blog posts about traveling.