For those who like to travel domestically and abroad, there are certain things that are travel essentials, such as a portable phone charger, a personalized medical alert necklace (for those who have medical conditions), a comfortable pair of shoes and a good head on their shoulders.
That last bit is particularly important, as traveling, while highly enjoyable, can be potentially dangerous. From injuries to theft, kidnapping and beyond, there is a lot that can happen in unfamiliar locations, particularly when in a foreign country.
However, while traveling does come with certain risks, that shouldn’t keep you from adventuring. Instead, you should learn some travel safety tips.
Here are seven that you should definitely learn and use.
1. Learn Common Travel Scams
No matter where in the world you find yourself, someone is going to want to trick you out of your money — and possibly more. While everyone thinks that they are too smart and witty to fall for scams, some con-artists can be extremely crafty. Therefore, it is wise for you to familiarize yourself with common travel scams and how to avoid them.
2. Maintain a Low Profile
People who look like they are tourists are easy targets for con-men, thieves and criminals of all kinds. Therefore, it is in your best interest to blend in as much as possible.
This means that you should wear muted clothing that doesn’t stand out, refrain from pointing a big honking camera at everything possible, modulate your voice and be discreet when looking at maps.
If you stand out as a foreigner, you are potentially asking for trouble.
3. Create Copies of Important Documents
Important documents get lost or stolen all the time while traveling. Since your driver’s license and passport are extremely important, it is prudent to scan them into your computer, create several hard copies of your most important files and save them somewhere safe online.
The same goes for things you wouldn’t normally think to scan, such as tickets for events, silicone medical ID bracelets, travel itinerary details and the like.
This way, if your information gets lost or stolen, you won’t have an emergency on your hands.
4. Let Friends and Family Know Where You Are
No matter if you are going to be gone for a few days or a month, it is vital to keep friends and family abreast of your location. Therefore, you should consider giving a copy of your itinerary to some people who can keep tabs on you.
At the same time, it is important for you to regularly check in with these people to let them know that you have safely made it to your next destination.
5. Ask Locals for Advice
If you want to know which areas of town to avoid, if it is safe to be out at night and similar details, then it is best to ask local residents.
The fact is that most locals are friendly folks and will give you good information. However, since you don’t want to end up asking someone who might want to mislead you, it is best to ask people like hostel or hotel front desk workers.
Some great questions that you should consider asking include:
- Which areas should I avoid?
- How safe is the area at night?
- Which tourist attractions are worth my time?
- Best restaurants in the area?
At the same time, you should ask these questions to more than one person to get different ideas and a general consensus on the area.
6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Traveling or not, you should always be aware of your surroundings. The fact is that criminals are looking for victims, not fights. Therefore, they are naturally going to target those who look unimposing, distracted or otherwise preoccupied.
This means that you must keep an eye on your belongings, watch out for suspicious behavior and be discerning when speaking with strangers. Be aware that we are not telling you to be paranoid but to be constantly conscious and cognizant of what is happening around you.
7. Register with Your Embassy
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program was designed as a means of making local embassies for various destinations privy to your arrival and keep you in the loop on important safety information as you travel.
By registering, you can receive information about emergency situations like terrorist attacks or natural disasters and the embassy can contact you to potentially help with getting you to safety.
Staying Safe While Traveling
This only scratches the surface of travel safety tips. However, this should give you a good starting point and a decent foundation from which to build and continue learning how to keep yourself safe when in foreign environments.
Finally, remember that, while it is vital to stay safe while traveling, it is also important that you have fun and enjoy your time in a new and exciting place.