travel safety tips

Travel Safety Tips
A Comprehensive Resource

Mark Twain warned: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones
you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Explore, dream, and discover indeed—just do so responsibly with the guidance of these travel safety tips.

Preparing and Packing Proactively

Take with you:

  • Simple, comfortable, and convenient clothing.
  • A first-aid kit and any essential medications
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, or other such necessities that may be difficult to replace in a foreign place.
  • Travel light; it’s easier, faster, and your hands will be more freed (all of the above being especially essential during an emergency)
  • A minimum number of valuables and ways to conceal them.
  • Opt for credit cards (two is a good number) and travellers’ checks instead of extra cash.
  • Photocopies of your ID information, credit cards, tickets, etc. (in case the original items are stolen or misplaced).

Leave behind:

  • Expensive clothing and jewellery that could make you a target.
  • Bulky handbags, fanny packs, and exterior pockets (favored by pickpockets).
  • Irreplaceable heirlooms or family objects which you’d hate to lose.
  • Unnecessary items you usually carry in your wallet (library or shopping cards, social security card).
  • Instructions. Let your family or friends know who to contact or what to do in case of an emergency—whether it’s an emergency that they could face at home, or that you could face abroad.

Know Before You Go: Make Smart Arrangements

Your luggage.

  • Label each piece of baggage with your name and contact information.
    1. Use covered tags so they won’t be as easily read by curious (and sometimes ill-meaning) strangers.
  • Don’t lock your baggage.
  • If you must pack valuables, ensure that they’re out of sight and well-wrapped near the bottom.

Your itinerary and registration details

  • Consider the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates and can be contacted about a family emergency at home.
  • If possible, stick to large hotels (with more elaborate and seasoned security)
  • Plan to stay in an area that’s known to be safe and tourist-friendly.

Legal documents

  • If you’ve prepared a will, insurance documents, and power of attorney, entrust these to a trusted family member or friend who will remain in your area.
  • Make note of your credit card amount and limit.

Insurance

  • Know how to report stolen information from abroad.
  • Ensure that you’re covered in case of any emergency, health issue, or delay/cancelation of travel plans.
Did You Know?
Cars are 175x More Dangerous Than Planes You are 175 times more likely to die in a car than a plane in your life time. The odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 1 in 98 over a lifetime whereas dying in a plane is 1 in 7,178 over a lifetime. (2) A stolen U.S Passport is Worth $5,000 - $25,000 On The Black Market(3)
Action Items
  • Be proactive; pack and plan intelligently.
  • Learn about your destination: local laws, customs, language, and current events.
  • Be alert at all times; keep a grip on your money and belongings.
  • Ensure that you’re insured.
  • Appear as if you belong; dress like the locals, and never look expensive or lost.

Educate Yourself to Ensure Safety

Local laws and customs.

  • You will be subject to the laws of the place you’re visiting.
  • Consult your travel agent, embassy, tourist bureaus, trusted online references and resources, etc.
  • Follow the news of events and developments in the country you’re heading to; prepare to make adjustments to your schedule if unexpected events (like a revolution) break out.
  • Avoid legal difficulties by researching beforehand if you are allowed to carry certain possessions:
    1. Certain drugs or medications
    2. Firearms or other weapons
    3. Cameras (always ask permission before taking photographs in or around local institutions)
    4. Antiques (such as copies of national treasures, or even sacrilegious items)
  • Respect your host country; follow local laws and do not create disturbances.

Local health concerns

  • Get vaccinated accordingly.
  • Learn—and follow—health precautions, especially for that specific location.

Necessary words in the local language. A few key phrases are invaluable if you’re ever in an emergency and need police help or medical assistance.

Local emergency numbers, including police, fire departments, poison control, your hotel, and the nearest embassy of your own country.

General Precautions

Always be alert and awake when exploring your new environment.

Don’t share your travel plans with strangers.

Never leave your belongings unattended in public spaces.

If you are attacked, don’t fight back. Give up your wallet or watch. Hopefully you’ve insured these; if you haven’t, your life is worth more than anything else.

Refrain from contact with local animals, especially strays.

Never accept food or drink from strangers.

Don’t be predictable. Vary your schedule in case you’re being followed or labelled an easy (tourist) target.

Look like you know what you’re doing. Even if you’re lost, walk purposefully. You’ll be less of a target if it seems that you know where you are and what you’re doing.

Securely handle your money. by following these travel safety tips:

  • Distinguish your sources of money. Don’t put all your cash in one pocket.
  • Never keep your wallet in your back pocket; keep your pouch, purse, or wallet near the front of your body where you can keep an eye and a grip on it.
  • Avoid using your credit card on a public computer, such as those in internet cafes. If they’ve installed keylogger software, others could track and use your passwords and information.
  • Conduct transactions only with authorized agents for currency exchanges and souvenir or ticket purchases.

Report the loss of your personal identification information or money immediately to the police and respective authorities (embassy, airline company, credit card company, etc.).

Alert authorities immediately if you feel threatened in any way.

Rent an escort security service if travelling to dangerous locations.

If detained for any reason, always keep calm, and ask for identification or for a supervisor.

Safety in Your New Environment

In the hotel,

  • Keep your hotel door locked at all times.
  • Always close and lock the windows at night.
  • Arrange to meet visitors only in the lobby.
  • Tell someone you trust if you’re going out late at night and what time you expect to return.
  • Your passport, credit cards, ID info, and cash are most secure when locked in a hotel safe.
  • Be familiar with the emergency procedures and emergency exits, and make sure they’re easily accessible to you.

On the street,

  • Keep a grip on your money and belongings.
  • Keep your bag or purse in front of you or at your side which is away from the street.
  • Beware of thieves or criminals who might work alone or as a team to
    1. Jostle you or distract you with a disturbance
    2. Ask you questions (directions, the time, etc.)
    3. Point out something to you (on your hair, shirt, etc.)
  • If you’re on vacation or trying out a scuba diving or rock climbing expedition, read the fine print and ensure your instructor is certified and genuine.

When driving,

  • Opt for a car instead of a motorcycle, as it’s much more secure.
  • If renting a car, ensure that it’s in good condition, very secure,
  • Lock your doors at all times.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Stick to popular, organized, and tourist-friendly streets and paths.
  • Use the A/C and keep windows closed, especially if you’re driving through unfriendly-looking territory.
  • Don’t leave valuables in the car; at the very least, lock them discreetly in the trunk.
  • Don’t park or exit the car in a suspicious location or when there are suspicious people nearby.
  • Always park in a designated area (in the hotel garage or other well-lit area); avoid parking on the street or in a dark place, especially overnight.
  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you're an employer, consider investing on a driver safety training for your employees to provide them an adequate information on how to drive safely both on and off the job.

When using public transportation,

  • Stay with your luggage until it is checked in or safely secured.
  • Only take taxis and buses clearly marked and identified with official local markings; never enter an unmarked vehicle that claims to be something it isn’t.
  • In a taxi or bus, sit behind the driver (not next to him); it’ll give you personal space, and you’ll be able to see him better.
  • Ride the train by day. Organized robberies are more likely to occur at night, especially on overnight trains.
  • There is safety in numbers, but always stay alert.
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