Traveling can be risky business. Any time you are away from your comfort zone, you will face a whole new slew of risks.
Health concerns, scams, theft, a language barrier, natural catastrophes, political unrest, transportation scares – the list goes on.
While you cannot prevent wars and tsunamis, you can take steps to ensure that you are a little bit safer while traveling.
Check out these 7 travel safety tips to make sure you made it back from your next adventure in one piece.
1. Do Your Research
Some risks cannot be avoided. No matter where you are, you may be the victim of crime. But doing your research ahead of traveling will help reduce those risks.
Don’t be ignorant about where you are traveling. Know the country’s laws and cultural norms.
Make sure you look up the neighborhood you’ll be staying in and the areas you’ll be passing through. Have you accidentally booked a hotel in a dangerous part of the city? Is it unsafe to walk that area at night?
Know before you go. There is plenty of information out there about the safest areas for travelers. A simple internet search can save you a lot of trouble on the road.
2. Fake It Until You Make It
As much as possible, you’ll want to blend in with the locals. Standing out as an uninformed tourist makes you an easy mark. It may also cause other issues.
This means that you need to know what constitutes inappropriate dress and manners. It may be too risque for women to wear tank tops. You may upset someone by trying to shake their hand.
You don’t want to accidentally offend a different culture. You are there to explore and appreciate a new place. Make sure you don’t leave a bad taste in the mouths of your host country.
It will give future tourists a bad name.
Looking like a local will also reduce the chances that you’ll be targeted for a scam. Haggle like a local, avoid asking for directions, and make sure you speak at least a little of the language.
3. Stay Modest
Don’t showcase your wealth.
Wearing expensive jewelry, carrying large sums of cash, or showing off expensive gear will make you a target for pickpockets, thieves, and other scam artists.
Carrying your cash in multiple different, zipped pockets will allow you to pay without having to dig through wads of cash to find the right bill. This is especially important if it is a foreign currency and you don’t really understand how much money you are pulling out.
4. Be Smart About Public Transportation
Most tourists don’t drive when they’re on vacation. We take buses, taxis, trains, and planes. Make good choices for your transportation.
In some ways, this goes back to doing adequate research before you travel.
You want to make sure you are using reliable public transportation. Avoid services dealing with an injury claim or other malpractice accusations.
Make sure the bus or car service you are using has good reviews online.
Double check train and bus stations to make sure they are open and operating before you walk there. You don’t want to end up stranded at a remote station with no way back to your lodging.
Your hotel or hostel will be able to help you find a taxi or car service with a good reputation. They can also steer you away from disreputable options.
5. Consider Travel Insurance
If you’re a natural worrier, this one is a no-brainer. But everyone should consider travel insurance.
The insurance will protect you from theft, injury, and illness. It can be used to cover a trip to the hospital. It can also be used to replace stolen personal items.
Travel insurance helps you if a natural disaster strikes your destination.
For a relatively small sum, you can travel with much less worry.
6. Manage Your Health
If you are traveling to a developing country, it is smart to bring a supply of medicine. You may not be able to get over-the-counter meds locally. Medicines like motion sickness pills, bug repellent, and headache relief might not be available.
Even if you are traveling to a developed nation, it’s not a bad idea to have a small supply of meds on-hand. This way, you won’t have to take time out of your trip to hunt down cold medicine.
Before traveling out of the country, check with your doctor. Find out if are any vaccines or other prophylactics that you should consider.
You might need preventative malaria medicine or a vaccine against Yellow Fever.
Make sure you refill any prescription meds that you’ll need before you go. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, have your doctor write you an Rx for extra refills. Check with your insurance company to see if they’ll honor the additional refill due to travel.
7. Always Plan for the Emergency
Above all else, prep for the worst case scenario. Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.
You should know how to get in touch with the closest US embassy. You should know how to contact the local police and fire departments.
Always let someone know your intended itinerary. Make sure you check in before you leave and when you get back. If you’re late for your check-in, make sure someone knows to call the proper authorities.
Carry a photo ID, or a photocopy of your passport, with you at all times.
Learn some basic phrases, such as “I need help” or “Call the police”, in the local language.
Bon Voyage: Remember to Use These Travel Safety Tips!
Don’t let the risks of traveling keep you from exploring. Make sure you are heeding these travel safety tips to ensure you have the best time possible.
Now pack those bags and hit the road!
Want to learn more tricks and tips for traveling? Check out our guide to traveling on a budget.