Safety. For many travelers it is at the forefront of the mind. Whether you travel alone or with friends, safety should be approached with dedication and your eyes wide open. So, what are some of the things we can do as travelers to remain safe when abroad?
Political Unrest/War/Sickness Pandemic.
– The Political climate of the world we live in is an ever changing animal. A storm that rages and wanes, moves across continents and fizzles out momentarily only to have embers fanned into a flame again. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Watch what is happening not only in your destination but the countries and areas around it. Pay attention to your country’s travel advisories and bans. Check the CDC and WHO websites for updates regarding sicknesses and health concerns. Get your vaccinations, pack hand sanitizer, travel hand soap sheets and a washcloth for drying your hands.
If you travel with others, stay together.
– It can be tempting to go your separate ways, especially if one person in your group wants to stay out at night while everyone else heads to bed. Don’t. Find a compromise. During the daytime, provided that no one will be in secluded areas alone, you can separate. However, be sure to meet up before sunset.
Don’t take unlit back alleys.
– This seems like common sense, but it is easy to take a turn down a side street and find yourself on a dark street. Take the time durning the day to learn the best routes back to your lodging. Know the streets as best as possible and avoid any secluded areas at night.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
– Again, probably a common sense item here, but you need to stay aware of what is going on around you, not just where you are. Keep your bag close, don’t put things in your back pockets and stay off your cell phone. These are things we do every day, right? Keep doing them when you are traveling! Also, try not to have your map out when walking around the city as this is a beacon to criminals who may target you. Instead, duck into a cafe, grab a coffee and figure out your next step.
Don’t keep a lot of cash on you.
– This doesn’t mean use credit cards. This simply means that when you are traveling, do not keep all of your cash on you. Sew a secret pocket into your suitcase to hide cash. Keep only what you will need for the day on you and hide a spare “extra” in a secret compartment in your bag, NOT in your wallet.
Don’t leave your drink unattended.
– EVER. Unless you traveled with the person you are leaving it with, do not leave it. Watch the bartender make your drinks. Avoid complicated mixed drinks as you can easily be distracted and miss someone slip something in your drink.
Dress appropriately for the situation/weather.
– If you are headed out, make sure to wear something that doesn’t label you a tourist. Dress appropriately for the situation and weather. A little research can go a long way here. If locals typically shy away from bright fabrics and showing a lot of skin, then you should probably reconsider the neon crop-top.
Leave the jewelry at home.
– It can be tempting to wear your wedding or engagement rings, don your favorite pendant or gold chain, and wear your beloved diamond earrings when traveling. However, this tends to label you as a good target for thieves. Even taking fakes. Instead, opt for understated, simple and gem-less jewelry if you really want to wear some. Plus, you don’t risk losing a stone while overseas.
– You may think you don’t need it. Maybe you rarely get sick or injured so you don’t think it will be necessary. However, political unrest, accidents, sickness, flight cancellations and overbooking do occur from time to time. Insurance can also cover theft and personal items. Cover your butt, get the insurance. It is better to have it and not need it.
– Keep the local phone number, email and address on your person for local emergency services as well as your country’s embassy. In addition, make sure you have contact information for friends/family as well as a contact for each person in your group. I like to write a list on a Google Docs and share it with the group as well as keep the list saved on my phone and a hard copy in my daily bag. Should anything happen, I can contact anyone necessary.
Know the lingo.
– We all know it is a good idea to try to learn key phrases in the local language. What we may not consider is learning to understand some of the slang and colloquialisms. YouTube is great for learning these and DuoLingo is helpful for learning the language. Even if you don’t end up using it, knowing what people are saying when around you can raise your awareness to any sketchy behavior.
Follow your gut!
– If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If someone makes you feel uneasy, then listen to that! Your instincts are there for a reason. Listen to that gut feeling when something doesn’t feel right and remove yourself from the situation.
Not everyone is your friend.
– As a friendly person who finds it easy to talk to people, my open personality makes me approachable. This allows me to make fast friends when I travel. Generally this is a great thing, but you have to remain cautious to not trust too easily. MOST people you meet will be friendly and have a genuine desire to show you their city/country. Meet up with your new friends in public places, do not get into private cars with them, don’t follow them to “off the beaten path” sites, do not meet up with them alone, and don’t give them every fact about yourself. You can make some wonderful, life-long friends when you travel, but keep your guard up just a little, you can bet they are too.
Staying safe when traveling is important, but don’t allow the fear to keep you home! Remember that the majority of people you encounter will be kind, honest, genuine and friendly. Keep putting yourself out there and experience what the world has to offer. Just do it with BOTH eyes open.
“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee