Travel safety is a big deal, yet something that is commonly overlooked by excited travelers. I get it… you’ve booked a sweet getaway and you just want to relax, tour around and take some time off. Getting super involved with safety measures, precautions and preparing for the worst sounds like a vacation buzz-kill. And it is – until you find yourself in danger or victim to a crime.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Travelers need to be 100x’s more aware and prepared than when they are at home. In your normal day-to-day life, you’re simply going through the motions with a very familiar routine. While abroad, there is no routine or comfort in the familiar. Everything is different. There are language barriers, unusual customs or laws and unfortunately, people who set out to prey upon unsuspecting tourists.
This travel safety blog is going to give you the knowledge and tools so you are NOT that unsuspecting tourist, but instead a super savvy jetsetter.
Travel Safety Tips
What to do BEFORE Your Trip
1. Check your Government’s site for travel advisories
Check your governments travel advisory site for vital information about traveling to the country you’re heading to. They post in-depth information about visa requirements, travel warnings, political instability, and many other safety topics.
Canadian Travel Advisory Site
American Travel Advisory Site
Australian Travel Advisory Site
British Travel Advisory Site
From another country? Just google “Travel Advisory site for (your nationality)” to help find your governments official site.
2. Learn about laws, customs, dress codes and cultural faux pas
When you do research on your governments travel advisory site, they will commonly list out important laws and customs to know, but that might not tell the full story. Find out about what might be considered offensive, the proper dress codes, cultural faux pas, and other social no-no’s before you travel. What might be completely normal to you could be a huge disrespect to another culture.
Best places to find out more info on these can be found on sites like Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor forums, travel guides made by bloggers/influencers, and by asking expats/locals already in the area.
3. Research common scams in the area
Very easy to do– open Google and type in “(city name) scams” or “common scams in (city name)” If there has been a pattern of any kind of scam in that city, you’ll see more than enough results for it. Learn a bit about common scams in the area so you are a little more aware once your there in person.
Go easy on this one so you don’t talk yourself out of a particular city/country, as the internet is full of a lot of doom and gloom scare tactics. Use the info as a reference and not necessarily a deterrent.
4. Make copies of your passport
Make 2 colour copies of your passport. Leave one at home with a family member or friend and keep one with you in a different bag than your passport. (or one in the cloud!)
True story: I was robbed at gunpoint in Nicaragua and they stole my bags, including my passport. Before the trip I left a colour copy of my passport with my brother Cody, telling him it was for ‘just in case’. He teased me to NO end about it, until I actually called him from the Canadian consulate a few weeks later needing him to email it over to them. I had no proof of who I was and I was so thankful I had left a copy with him to expedite the process of getting an emergency passport issued.
5. Register with your Embassy
If you are going off the beaten path, or staying abroad for an extended period of time, you may want to register with your countries embassy. This way your home country will know you are in a particular country in-case of emergency, natural disaster, political instability or in the event you need to be evacuated.
6. Pack a small emergency kit
Some people will skip this step assuming that their hotel, homestay or hostel will have an up to date and complete medical kit on hand. I’m telling you that you would be SHOCKED at how many establishments don’t even have a first aid kit, let alone one that hasn’t expired or is missing crucial items.
You don’t have to travel with something massive, just bring a small first aid kit that has all the basics. You’ll want to ensure this step isn’t missed if you’re going to be doing outdoor adventure activities, specifically in remote areas.
7. Get the appropriate vaccines
Depending on your destination, medical history and planned activities, you might want to get certain vaccines when traveling abroad. Check with your doctor or travel health clinic to see what vaccines they recommend for your trip.
I’m tempted to throw a personal opinion in here and I can’t seem to hold myself back, so here we go: To date I have not gotten any vaccines because I haven’t been going to places (that in my opinion) where they are needed. Let me use Bali as an example. I have had a friend go to their doctor who recommended 4 to 5 different shots, all totalling over $1400 for their trip to Bali. In my (uneducated and stubborn) opinion, this was overkill. Her only intention was to stay at her 5-star hotel in Bali, shop for souvenirs and have a few spa days. It’s not like she was heading out to the depths of the jungle to trek for 3 weeks.
Do your own research in conjunction with the advice from health care professionals and come to your own conclusion about travel vaccines. Would I get them to go into the African jungle? You bet! To head to a resort in Mexico? No way.
8. Turn on 2-step verification
You are likely going to be using wifi at hotels, airports, restaurants and other unfamiliar places. Because of this, you might want to turn on two-step verification to important logins like facebook, your banking, etc. This way, if any of your login credentials are compromised, a ‘2nd step’ is sent to you, usually by text message or email, so you can verify it’s really you trying to log in. Only do this if you are going to have the ability to receive text messages while abroad.
9. Leave an itinerary
If you are traveling for an extended amount of time, or through places where you will not have internet access, leave a copy of your itinerary with someone who isn’t on the trip with you. Anything can happen. If there was a natural disaster, a coup, or if you drop off the map for longer than expected, you can still be tracked down and found based on your travel plans.
10. Let your bank know your plans
This one is a dying tip because banks are getting super savvy with their customer behaviour algorithms and start to learn your travel patterns. My husband’s bank on the other hand seems to still be using clay tablets because his cards get flagged nonstop when we travel.
To cover your bases, let your bank know which countries you will be in, and when, so they don’t flag your account while you’re abroad.
11. Get an RFID blocking bag or wallet
Does your credit or debit card have that little chip with the ‘tap’ feature? Pretty convenient, right? Turns out, it’s super convenient for scam artists too. They simply get within a few inches of you with a hidden RFID reader, and you just had your card compromised. This usually happens in crowded places like airports, shopping malls, conference rooms and sporting events. If your bag or wallet has a built in RFID blocker, these arseholes can’t get one bit of your information.I have been using my trusty Arden Cove anti-theft bag for 2 years now with no issues!
12. Join expat groups on FB
Expat groups are all the rage on Facebook. Not only is this a great way to learn more about your destination before you go, but it helps you meet new people who are already well versed in that particular city. I love joining expat groups and searching for common questions and insider info about the destination. If anything is going down (like natural disasters, crime, or emergencies) they are very fast at posting about it and giving each other up to date info.
Just search “(city name) expats” in Facebook’s search bar and filter by groups. You should be able to find one in almost every city in the world!
13. Get travel insurance 100% without a doubt
If I had to put one tip above all the others, it’s this one. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE.
DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE.
My friend recently wrote a guest post on our site about how she almost got stuck a $300,000 hospital bill during a trip to France. She and her husband were in a horrible car accident that resulted in needing to be air-lifted and required may surgeries. The total bill was over $300,000, which would have crippled them financially, if it hadn’t been for their travel insurance. The benefits kicked in instantly giving them the freedom to recover instead of being trapped by bills they wouldn’t have been able to pay.
If you have enough money to go on a trip, you have enough to buy insurance. Please, do not skip this crucial step. It’s just not worth the risk.
I have a TD Infinite Privilege Visa that gives me 22 days of full travel insurance coverage. If my trip is over 22 days, I top it up with either World Nomads or Safety Wing travel insurance.
World Nomads is better to get if you are doing any outdoor sports like skiing, hiking and scuba diving, but it comes with a higher price tag. Safety Wing is seriously affordable, but has lower coverage amounts to match. Depending on what kind of activities I am doing, I will pick between those 2 providers.
Safety Tips For Travel
Stay Safe DURING Your Trip
14. Always use the safe
I never used to use the hotel safe, until my brand new GoPro was stolen from my room at a very reputable hotel in London. The hotel will not take any responsibility for items left outside the safe, so I found myself SOL.
Now I always always always use the safe.
15. Be aware of your surroundings
The vibe of a room, the body language of others and many other non-verbal cues will usually tell the full story of what’s going on at any given time. Be very aware of your surroundings when exploring a new area.
Take extra care when entering large crowds, if a fight or event suddenly breaks out, if emotions of the people around you become heightened, etc.
16. Don’t give strangers too much info
Meeting people on vacation is FUN, but don’t get in the habit of offering more info than needed. Yes, you will encounter many locals and new friends who simply want to know more about you, period. But there will also be scammers disguised as well-meaning locals who are collecting all the info they need to take advantage of you. Honestly, these types of scams are even run by other travelers and expats that seem just like you.
Don’t give out info like: the name of the exact hotel you are staying at, how long you are staying away from your hotel that day, or any other info that might compromise your personal safety. When in doubt, play dumb! Be unsure. Make it sound like your plans change on a dime.
17. Don’t wear expensive jewelry
Leave expensive and flashy jewelry behind.
Let me paint this picture for you: Imagine you are traveling to an extremely impoverished and politically unstable area with your massive engagement band on your finger. Your ring might be worth $25,000 which is the amount of money a local might only earn after a decade of hard labour. A desperate person with very hungry children at home notices the life-changing paycheck around your finger. What happens next?
Now, I am a firm believer that most people you will encounter are GOOD, but good people might feel extremely pressured to do bad things in the face of adversity. Just leave it behind.
Depending on the area I am travelling to, I will wear a smaller and more humble wedding band. Truth be told, wearing a small ring also helps me barter at markets. Why in the world would a local be willing to come down in price if they meet someone with diamonds hanging all over them?
18. Get savvy about food safety
Nothing sucks more than getting food poisoning while traveling. Sometimes it’s just going to happen, no matter how many precautions you take, but there are some things you can do to lower the risk.
Have clean drinking water. If you’re traveling to places like Canada, discard this advice and feel free to drink from the tap. However, in places like South East Asia, even using tap water to do something like brush your teeth can make you extremely ill. Always have safe, clean and trusted water to drink and brush your teeth with. A lot of the time, this means buying bottled water, which isn’t the best for the environment. You can carry around a re-usable or collapsible water bottle and re-fill it when you find a trusted source, like a restaurants reverse-osmosis system.
Eat where the locals eat. Locals have jobs and important things to do, just like you, so the last thing they want is food poisioning taking them away from work and family. Just like we do at home, locals will usually eat at the same places each day because they trust the food and it tastes good. Take this as a huge clue when trying to figure out where is safe when touring a unfamiliar city. If one restaurant is empty and the one next door is full, I will usually follow the herd.
Well done please. You might love a burger with lots of pink in the middle at home, but out traveling you may want to reconsider anything containing under-cooked meat. My husband always orders his burgers well-done, especially in Asia where it’s not their native-type cuisine. Overcooked and a little dry is a lot better then spending the next two days in the bathroom.
19. Do you know how to call 911?
Until I started traveling I had NO idea that other countries used a different dialing system for their emergency services line. I just figured that 911 was universal and worldwide! Not the case at all! Different countries all over the world have very different emergency numbers to call.
United Kingdom 999
New Zealand 111
20. Learn a few words of the language
Chances are you’ll be heading to a place where English is not the primary language. In this case, take some time to learn a few words in the native language of that country. You don’t need to get all Rosetta Stone, but get familiar with some basic phrases, like:
You can save a small list of words/phrases on your phone, or on a small card inside your wallet. Don’t just rely on Google Translate.
There are few things in life that feel better than finding open, fast and free Wi-Fi when I’m on the road! However, some of those connections are super sketchy, so I don’t do shopping, banking, or any other secure action on them. If the Wi-Fi does not require a password, don’t do anything on it that could compromise your personal info.
DON’T OVERDO IT
Huge disclaimer here: If you let all of the above safety tips consume your mind, you will only have a trip full of paranoia and stress. While it’s good to be prepared and educated, you also have to go with the flow and let the adventure unfold in-front of you.
Have fun on your trip, get out of your comfort zone, take changes and grow as an individual!
Credit: Source link