Have you booked for your long-awaited trip to your bucket list destination? Or just visiting a new city that was recommended by fellow travelers? With all the excitement that comes with visiting a new place, you might forget to take into consideration the country’s or city’s safety. Even though you can’t guarantee your safety 100%, there are some safety tips for traveling to follow to make sure you’re at least safe at all times. But before you go for a trip of a lifetime, here are some of the travel safety tips that you should know.
Pro tip about safety while traveling
The world and media have tried to paint a negative picture of safety while traveling. But let’s face it, bad things can happen from anywhere, whether abroad or your home town- I’ve personally been robbed a lot from my home city than when traveling abroad. You just need to be a little careful and apply the general safety tips anywhere you go.
This post is not about showing you how unsafe the world is when you travel, but to show you that sometimes things go wrong and when they do, its better to know what to do and also be more aware of them so that you don’t fall a victim.
Travel safety tips you should know as a traveler
1. Stay street smart as you travel.
The major common safety threat in almost all major cities in the world is the street robbery. This ranges from pickpocketing to using cunning methods to take away your belongings without your knowledge.
If you’re traveling through crowded places, it’s better to keep your belongings in a place that is visible to you at all times. And it’s better to wear your daypack in front instead of the behind to avoid someone picking your stuff without realizing it. You can also wear a money belt that makes it absolutely impossible for anyone to steal your money.
Also, instead of carrying credit cards, carry cash as its hard to have any major problems when using cash.
Another way to stay safe on the streets is by not carrying expensive items.
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2. Check the political and security conditions of the country you’re visiting.
You don’t want to end up in a war zone because you didn’t research the country’s or city’s stability in terms of security. However much you were excited about the trip, if there is security instability in that area, cancel it immediately; Your security is more important than a days adventure.
3. Be aware of the extreme weather conditions of the country you’re visiting.
Staying safe while traveling is not only about wars and political instability in the country you plan to visit, but also the weather conditions.
Some countries experience extreme weather conditions and traveling to such places during those times might be dangerous to your safety.
Always try to follow the weather forecast on AccuWeather or Google weather to find out whether the weather conditions are favorable to you.
For example, for your safety, I wouldn’t advise you to visit areas that are likely to be hit by floods, hurricane, mudslides or even earthquakes.
4. Inform your friends and families about your travel plans.
Regards of whether you’re traveling with someone or solo, it’s important to share your travel plans with a few trusted friends and family members.
It is a smart safety travel tip to ensure that someone is aware of your whereabouts, God forbid if something were to happen to you.
I don’t want to seem like I am scaring you but letting someone know where you are is important- let them know which hotel/hostel you’re staying at plus their contact details so they can easily get in touch with you in cases where they can’t reach you on your personal contacts.
5. Move with copies of your travel documents and identification.
This might seem like a known fact but you’ll be surprised by how many travelers overlook this. Always carry a photocopy of your passport. On top of that, note down the location of your hotel/hostel on a piece of paper in case you were to lose your phone. On the same note, include details of emergency / next of kin contacts that can easily be contacted in case you’re in trouble.
Again I don’t mean to scare you, but since staying safe while traveling is paramount, it is better to take precautions- better safe than sorry, right?
6. Get travel insurance
For some travelers, travel insurance might seem like a ripoff but the time your $1000 dollars camera gets robbed is when you’ll realize how much important and cheaper travel insurance is. Having travel insurance doesn’t mean that you’ll be careless with your valuables but it gives you confidence knowing that your items are insured and if anything was to happen, insurance can cover it.
Confused about which travel insurance to opt for, World nomads insurance is highly recommended by many travelers and you can easily apply for it online regardless of where you are at that moment.
Insuring your valuables is not enough, make sure you insure yourself as well by obtaining health insurance. In some countries, it might be hard to access health care as a foreigner if you don’t have health insurance. So, to avoid all that trouble if you, unfortunately, fall sick or get injured, get yourself health insurance before you travel abroad.
7. Be aware of the common travel scams
There are some travel scams that are almost everywhere in the world. Even though they are known worldwide, if you don’t know them individually, you’re likely to get taken advantage of.
Here are some of the common travel scams worldwide that you should look out for.
- A taxi driver using a longer route to charge you more. To avoid this, make sure you know where you’re going or follow the route using maps.
- Beggars on the streets. With this, most people stage kids, the lame or a woman carrying a child so that you feel sympathy and give them money. This is very common in Africa and some parts of Asai.
- A friendly local who knows the best and cheapest shops around town. This will start by a local approaching you especially if you’re near a shopping center, he/she will convince you that he knows the best shops with good quality items and he/she can help you bargain for the local price. But instead, he will end up taking you to his own shop where the items might be of poor quality and extremely expensive. How to avoid this is to be able to read between the lines and try to go shopping on your own and use your bargaining skills instead of relying on other people.
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8. Find out the location of your country’s embassy in the country you’re traveling to. (if there’s one)
One of the best ways to stay safe while traveling is to find out where your home embassy is as they’re likely to care more about your safety in a foreign land.
Knowing their location is not enough, note down their phone numbers to easily contact them should you get in any kind of trouble that might require their assistance.
9. Don’t be big headed; obey the laws of the country you’re visiting.
I’ve heard of some travelers that got in trouble in a foreign country because they refused to follow the laws of the country.
I am sure you wouldn’t want someone to come to your house and start breaking the rules you set.
It’s kinda the same here, even if you don’t believe in some of the laws in that country, obey them not to get on the wrong side of the law. If you’re an obedient and respectful person, this shouldn’t be hard at all.
10. Register your travel plans with your government.
This might sound irrelevant to you but it is actually a great tip to stay safe while traveling.
This helps in case a tragedy occurs in the area you visiting, your government will try to look for you to make sure you’re safe.
Even if you don’t support the government in leadership, this is mostly to your benefit as you’ll have a bigger organ looking out for you.
Also, if you’re an American national, you can register with the Smart Travel Enrollment program which will always update you on all the safety conditions of the destination you’re in and they can easily get in touch with you if there are any disasters arising.
11. Trust your instincts.
While traveling, if something doesn’t feel right, just move on. If walking at night in a remote area doesn’t feel right ( which shouldn’t actually) then don’t do it. Instead of regretting it later on, trust your gut and follow it- the good news is that your gut is always right in most cases.
12. Ask the locals of what they think of their country’s safety.
There is no one that knows that country like the locals. So talk to locals and ask all the necessary questions about security and safety ( of course if they are kind enough to answer). Some of the questions you could ask include;
- Whether they feel safe in their country.
- Cases of insecurity reported in the country
- Whether it’s safe for tourists
- Best way to skip the country’s travel scams
- Whether it’s safe to walk at night
- The safe and unsafe areas ( if any)
- And finally the general travel tips on how to stay safe in that particular area.
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13. Be friendly but not over trusting with strangers.
However friendly a stranger might be, don’t be quick to trust them completely. Let’s face it, it’s hard to completely know someone’s intentions in the shortest amount of time. So, instead of telling them which hotel you’re staying at, choose to tell them a neighboring hotel in the city.
And if someone asks whether it’s your first time visiting that area, say no or go with the “you’re visiting family and friends” line. If that person was planning to make you a target, he might change his mind and move onto the next target.
14. Inform your bank or credit card provider about your travels.
It will be really inconveniencing after taking into account all the tips for traveling safely, only for your bank to freeze your credit/debit cards with the assumption that someone is stealing from you or dealing in credit card fraud. So, before you travel, make sure you inform your bank about your travels. This is easy as in most cases some online banking services have an option of letting them know that you’ll be traveling so that there are no misunderstandings.
15. Hide emergency cash.
One thing I’ve learned during my travels is to always hide emergency cash. This not only works for international travels but also locally. Imagine getting mugged and all your money is taken and you’re left with nothing to even take you back to your hotel. I always advise travelers to keep money in different places- some in your bag, some in your pocket and if you’re a woman, keep some in your bra! Yes, you read it right- in your bra. Most people laugh when I tell them that but I’ve found it a really great travel safety tip as its less likely for anyone to even think that you have money there.
Recently a friend of mine told me that he fell a victim of a pickpocket in Namibia and all his money was taken. He had to walk some good distance at night to even get to his hotel. But if he had some emergency cash hidden somewhere on him, he wouldn’t have walked all that distance at night.
16. Don’t make yourself a target by looking like a tourist.
Most wicked people and scammers target tourists, so if you scream tourist, by all means, you’re likely to be their next target. Instead of looking scared and lost (however much you might be), try not to show it. Instead, walk up to a place that seems highly established and ask for directions.
17. Don’t flash money and expensive items around.
Even though anyone can be robbed, but travelers that flash money and expensive items around have higher chances of being robbed. Be the responsible tourist that protects his valuables. Instead of flashing them around, keep them in your Pacsafe at your hotel if the hotel doesn’t provide a safe locker. Don’t own a Pacsafe yet? You can buy one from here.
18. Don’t leave your valuables unattended to
In addition to not flashing expensive valuables, never leave your property unattended to at all times. If you’re traveling alone and happen to for example go to a swimming pool, instead of leaving your property alone as you swim, you can ask the pool staff to help look over them. This might sound extra to some people, but better safe than sorry.
19. Don’t walk late at night in unsafe neighborhoods.
I am sure you already know this but I will say it again. Most of the crimes happen late in the night since there is barely anyone to save you. So, instead of risking your life and property walking alone at night, why not stay indoors but if you choose to go out at night, walk in a group or else call for an Uber to take you back to wherever you’re staying.
20. Stay away from dangerous activities
Dangerous activities vary from individual to individual; what I consider dangerous might be absolutely safe for you. If an activity seems unsafe for you, just skip it even if everyone else is doing it. I know traveling means loosening up, ticking activities off the bucket list, and getting out of your comfort zone, but if something puts your health in danger, forego it.
I know people who are afraid of taking a motorcycle in Uganda because they feel unsafe on it but would easily bungee jump in South Africa on the world’s highest bungee. So it all goes back to what activity you think is safe.
With all that in mind, there are obviously security risks while traveling anywhere but that doesn’t mean we will stop traveling. I mean you could be exposed to the same kind of risks even when you decide to stay in your city. All you have to do is to be a little careful and more aware of your surroundings.
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