Your stomach tingles with excitement as you arrive in your next destination. You can’t wait to explore and meet new people. I believe that most destinations are safe for travelers, as long as you prepare well and think consciously. Here are ten travel safety tips to help make your journey safer.
1. Research your destination on difficulties, current threats, common travel scams, etc.
Wherever you go in the world, it is always smart to first check your national website or state department website whether your destination is known for difficulties and/or current threats. Remember that all the things you read that could go wrong and not necessarily mean that they are going wrong. Usually you can also register with your embassy, so you are constantly updated with the latest safety information
It might also be helpful to research common travel scams. Wherever you go in the world, you’ll always find people ready to trick you. Anyone who has been subjected to a scam, knows the humiliating feeling that someone managed to fool you good while you can’t do anything about it. Traveling to Bali? Make sure to read our post on Bali’s most common tourist traps and how you can avoid them!
2. Make conscious flight and hotel bookings
A good flight preparation can save you time, frustration and money. When you book a flight, make sure to arrive during day time at your destination, so it easier to navigate to your accommodation.
Also make sure to book your accommodation for the first night(s) in advance. You are probably in a country you have never been to before. Instead of spending hours looking for a place to stay, make it easy for yourself, and book your accommodation in advance. I usually book accommodation for the first two nights of my trip and from there on, I will continue my planning.
Booking in advance can also mean you get a good deal and can budget the remainder of your travel money on activities, food, and everything in between. When I choose a hostel or hotel, I always consider the location first. I always try to book close to the city center, to have plenty of restaurants, bars, and supermarkets around and also to avoid walking through dark neighborhoods on my own. Make sure to read some reviews of the ho(s)tel before booking your accommodation.
3. Save emergency info and make copies of your credit cards and passport
Make sure to keep some front-and-back copies of your credit cards and passport saved to cloud storage like Google Docs. It is also smart to save your important phone numbers. Make sure to also add phone-numbers of local police, ambulance services, or directions to the nearest embassy for your country. I also recommend you write it all down on a small card or sheet of paper, get it laminated to protect it from moisture, and keep it in your wallet/purse/suitcase.
4. Lock up your valuables and hide emergency cash
Sometimes it is smart to not carry all your valuables with you, but to store them instead. You can ask your accommodation about secure storage options like a room safe, lockers, or a locked storage area. Also make sure to carry your own locker padlock when staying at backpacking hostels.
It is also smart to have some back-up cash hidden in your backpack or suitcase. You never know what can happen, so it is better to be prepared. You can hide some money e.g. rolled into an empty chapstick container, in a tampon, in an old sock, or in a hidden compartment in your luggage. How much emergency cash? This will be personal preference, but I usually prefer $115/€100 spread out in 2 different places.
5. Keep in touch with friends/family
Once you’ve worked out where you’re going and when, make sure someone else knows too. Before I travel anywhere, I make sure my parents know where I’m going, what my general plans are, and when I plan to be back. You can share your e.g. your flight details, name of your accommodation, or full itinerary (via email) with your friends or family members.
Don’t share too much information about your trip with strangers. I am always careful with what I share on e.g. Facebook. Be careful and don’t share too much with strangers. Sometimes people will ask if it’s your first time visiting their country or city or where you are staying. If you don’t trust them (yet), be vague or lie and name a hotel you’re not actually staying at. Sharing that you are new might signal that you’re a good target for scams.
6. Credit card fraud and travel insurance
You need to inform your credit card company that you will be traveling. If you fail to do this, your card may get declined due to fraud reasons. This will add undoubtedly stress to your trip. While on the phone with your credit card company, inquire about travel insurance. You never think you need it, until you do. Many credit cards include some form of travel insurance. If not, you should consider purchasing it to eliminate risk. My recommendation is World Nomads for short-term travel insurance (less than 6 months). They make it super easy to buy online.
7. Activity planning and using public transportation
Start researching highly recommended activities at your destination. You can either read other blogs, browse TripAdvisor, or use Google, to find exciting ideas. Many foreign countries also have cheap public attractions like museums. When choosing an activity make sure to book with a trustful company or one that is recommended by other travelers. I personally prefer to book at companies that are a bit more expensive, if this means that the quality of the materials or activities would be better.
Using public transportation abroad, isn’t always easy. If you are planning to use it, prepare how the public transportation system works, including buying tickets, know which bus will bring you home, and know the difference between a real taxi and a ‘fake’ taxi who will charge you ridiculous rates or surcharges.
8. Be aware of your clothing
When a country has dress code guidelines (e.g. Islamic countries) make sure to wear the right clothes as a sign of respect. You don’t want to offend locals with what you’re wearing. Also don’t wear clothes that scream ‘Tourists’. This will make you a target for scammers and thieves.
9. Food and water safety
It is always fun to try new food and drinks abroad, just make sure to keep in mind that food or water is not safe everywhere you travel. Please try to only eat at popular places with long lines, eat at places where locals eat, try to watch how your food is prepared, eat fully cooked food, only eat peel-able fruit to avoid bacteria, and to only drink filtered bottled water.
10. Be wary of public Wi-Fi
Don’t let the convenience of Internet access cloud your judgment. When you use public Wi-Fi, hackers looking to steal valuable information can access your data including credit card or Social Security numbers. If you do need wireless Internet service, set up a virtual private network (VPN) that will allow you to access the Internet securely while traveling. Also make sure to use a safe Netflix VPN when streaming your favorite tv show or movies!
Don’t let fear stop you from making the trip of a lifetime. Always make sure to trust your instincts! International travel is a lot easier than you think!
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