Traveling can be a lot of fun but is also at times extremely stressful. Worrying about what to take with you, getting through airport security and remembering what you wanted to see or do upon arrival can wear you down. Most of us never stop to think about potential dangers we may face after we hit our destination – and we definitely don’t always plan for every possible scenario. Members of our team brainstormed different aspects of safety you should think about when going on a journey and we’re more than happy to share our ideas with you here.
Never keep all of your cash in one place. It’s a good idea to stash some of the currency in your purse or bag, some on your person and a portion perhaps hidden in your hotel room (or locked in the safe). This way, if you were robbed a thief would be far less likely to get everything you may have, leaving you with available money to get back to your accommodations or even to a police station.
Additionally, you should think about only carrying smaller denominations. Just like it isn’t wise to haul around a huge amount of money, it’s also not too smart to continually whip out large bills in plain sight of strangers. Paying your way with tens or twenties gives the appearance of not having nearly as much as the guy next in line who pulls out hundreds.
When you’re on the move you will invariably need easy access to passports, a drivers license or other identification and sometimes even your health records. Things happen – these items can easily be lost or stolen. Don’t let yourself become trapped if this happens to you. Take a few moments to scan these pieces of yourself into your phone or computer so that you will have access to them at a moment’s notice should the need arise.
We’ve talked before about the reasons you should be using a VPN on your phone or tablet. It’s a crucial tool to have – especially if you’ll have to resort to using unsecured public WiFi connections. Having this layer of security on your iPhone or iPad will ensure that your information cannot be accessed by someone sniffing around the network where they don’t belong.
I know – you’re dying to use that expensive new camera you got for Christmas to document every moment of your experience. You may want to rethink your strategy, though. Doesn’t your older camera take pictures that are almost as good – at least as far as most people would ever notice? Using equipment that isn’t the most expensive or latest models will significantly reduce the likelihood of it being stolen.
Likewise, try to use older suitcases or bags whenever possible. If you’re rocking the newest Coach purse or a sleek-looking set of Samsonite, thieves will automatically know you probably have items they would want. Using WalMart specials while traveling can signal you saved like crazy for this trip and may not have anything worth stealing. This isn’t foolproof, of course, but it sure can help.
Sadly, many people believe they’re completely secure in a hotel room as long as the door is locked. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. If you’re a woman traveling alone, consider asking for a bellman or other hotel employee to escort you to your room during late hours. Keep your room key secured and out of plain sight at ALL times, and avoid allowing strangers to overhear you discussing your room number with staff.
Check the locks on ALL doors and windows in your room and familiarize yourself with the fire escape routes. If you order extra towels or room service, ALWAYS check through the peep hole to be 100% certain that the person who just knocked is actually a member of the hotel staff.
You likely have at least a loose itinerary in your mind’s eye, right? Even if you are someone who thrives on spontaneity, you will still have information such as airline reservations, hotel booking information and possibly tickets to local events. Write all of these things down and give copies to trusted friends or family prior to leaving. If anything were to happen to you, these loved ones would know the most likely place to look for you.
Also, you may want to think about using a mobile app such as TripIt. All of the same types of information is stored in your phone or tablet, allowing you to customize it with additional plans on the fly. You can share the entire trip with others if you choose, or just keep yourself organized.
If you’re planning to use a taxi to get around a strange city, be sure you think of your personal safety at all times. Arrange for transport ahead of time via telephone if at all possible and avoid allowing others to hear the details. Keep any conversation with your driver to a minimum and on a professional/generic level. Have your money and keys in hand when arriving at your destination and ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings before entering or leaving a cab.
Ah hah! You hadn’t thought of this one, had you? You’re a good person who has never been arrested or even ticketed, right? Therefore, you’re rolling your eyes and tempted to skip this section entirely. Don’t be too quick to assume you couldn’t possibly run into legal trouble while traveling… especially if you’re visiting another country for the first time.
Take time before leaving home to familiarize yourself with local laws and rules. For instance, did you know that in many countries you can be detained for taking photos of security-related institutions, border regions and even transportation facilities? If you aren’t sure, ASK someone.
If you plan to buy unique souvenirs, you should find out what the local rules are concerning antiques. You’d be shocked to learn how many tourists in Turkey, Egypt, Thailand and Mexico have been arrested while bringing home cool-looking souvenirs that customs authorities decided may be antiques. Don’t get caught in this situation: understand ahead of time the types of things you can easily transport back home without any issues.
Obviously, the best way to stay safe is to know basic self defense moves. Many organizations in your hometown offer a basic class for free. Check with the police department, a YMCA or take the time to watch videos on YouTube and practice before leaving home. Having just a few of these moves in your arsenal can mean all of the difference between life and death in some situations.
Protecting your physical health is just as important as any of the others safety measures we’ve discussed. Research any potential immunizations you may need well ahead of time and visit the doctor if needed. Check out any issues there may be in obtaining fresh water freely, what types of foods could cause you problems and perhaps take a trip through the Internet to learn what types of indigenous plants, animals or insects could hurt you.
All in all, your trip should be pleasant and as stress-free as possible. By taking the time before leaving home to arm yourself with knowledge, the likelihood of coming to any type of harm will decrease significantly.
What other travel safety tips do you have? We’d love to hear about anything we didn’t cover here.