We’re living in a world where it’s quite normal to find ourselves in an unpredictable scenario pretty often. And what can probably affect your travel plans more than the fear of getting robbed or scammed?
Well! In every new decision we make there is always a smidge of doubt about the possibilities of the worst outcomes. If we allow fear to dominate our minds, we will never be able to walk out the front door to explore the beauty of nature.
After all, life is too short for you to be afraid where there is a ton of memories to make by visiting some beautiful places and meeting new people. In the end, traveling teaches you many valuable life lessons that lead to a greater acceptance of different cultures and people.
We understand that it’s always scary to be in an unknown situation, and travel is filled with plenty of unknowns. BUT if you take some reasonable steps to protect yourself, you’ll be minimizing the chances of unnecessary tragedies from happening.
And the benefits of travel always outweigh the negatives. So, to help you have a pleasant trip, we have compiled a few of the essential travel safety tips that you should consider.
Essential Travel Safety Tips
- Essential Travel Safety Tips
- Select a safe travel bag
- Learn common travel scams
- Know the emergency number
- Lock up your valuables
- Store all your essential documents on the cloud
- Get travel insurance
- Separate your cash and cards
- Carry smaller sums of money
- Ask locals for advice
- Share your itinerary with a friend
- Don’t share too much information with strangers
- Splurge on extra safety
- Be aware of your clothing
- Know your limits
- Learn basic self-defense
- Turn on your GPS
- Project situational awareness
- Food and water safety
- Use your front pocket to keep your wallet
- Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit
- Wear a seatbelt, and a helmet
- Carry a decoy wallet
- Know how to seek for help
- Know where you’re going
- Travel in numbers
- Use ATMs wisely
- Be prepared on transportation
- Double-check your Uber
- Travel safety for men vs. women
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Select a safe travel bag
When you start looking for a traveling backpack, you’ll be presented with a ton of options that can be pretty overwhelming. There are different types of travelers who have different budgets and requirements.
But if you’re aware of the features that you need to consider while choosing a travel bag, then it’s relatively easier to find one that suits your needs.
For the best part, you can find bags with advanced features such as- anti-theft features, RFID technology, and lockable zippers. These features make it almost impossible for someone to take any of our belongings.
And traveling with a backpack lets you get around hands-free when tackling dirt roads, buying train tickets, using google maps, or while climbing stairs.
It’s best to opt for a travel bag that is versatile, comfortable, and rugged, allowing you to carry on with your adventurous outdoor activities effortlessly.
For instance, to prevent your bag from being slashed, you’ve got bags that come with a metal mesh beneath the fabric. Plus, a few bags have special cables that can be used to lock the bag to a non-moveable piece of furniture.
Learn common travel scams
No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find scammers who are waiting to rip you off a few hundred to thousand dollars. And in most cases these scam artists don’t necessarily draw your safety in danger.
We generally think that we are too smart to be scammed until we find ourselves in such situations. Every country has its own type of scam game that’s in place, but with a little research, you’ll be aware of the situations and what you need to look out for.
A little google search about the country or city that you’re visiting will come of great use to keep you aware of the local scam that is prevailing around. Some scams can be quite dangerous, while in other situations, you might lose a few hundred dollars.
For instance, you can fall victim to pickpocketing, drug scandal, rigged taxi meters, card-game crooks, etc. We aren’t trying to hold you back or make you paranoid; it’s a good word of advice to check up on the place that you’re visiting.
It’s always better to be prepared for the worst because when you become a victim of such travel scams, it can end up ruining your beautiful trip.
Know the emergency number
You might think that 911 is the emergency number that is prevalent all across the world, but that’s not true. Each country comes with its emergency code, and you can find that easily with a quick google search. It’s essential to make a note of the emergency number when you’re visiting a new country. You ask why?
Well! If disaster strikes, you’ll not have enough time to figure out the directions of the nearest embassy for your home country or the number for ambulance service or local police. When you’re in such a situation, you’ll either be too stressed out or panicky even to think straight.
And instead of putting yourself in such a position, it’s always best to record all the information on your phone. Also, you can keep a small note in your wallet that consists of all the emergency numbers. If done correctly, you’ll know exactly who you should be calling for help and the address of the places that you can visit to seek out for assistance.
Lock up your valuables
First thing first, it’s not a very wise idea to travel with any belongings that are super-valuable. And if it’s one of your bare necessities, then you can’t have them stolen. But, you got to be more careful in packing your bags to deter thieves and to minimize the opportunities of anyone getting to your luggage.
For instance; if you’re traveling on the train and you choose to put your head on the backpack, it won’t be surprising for you to wake up to a slashed bag that is robbed of its valuable contents. But if you get a slash-proof backpack, then you don’t have to fear about the material being torn or cut by anyone even if they are determined enough.
However, many zippers can be ripped open easily if you apply too much pressure using any sharp objects. It’s best to lock your valuables in one place and avoid letting that bag go out of sight; that way, you’ll not lose your valuables.
You can also call the accommodation for asking about all the security storage options such as- locked storage area, locker, or a room safe. And if you’re staying at a backpackers hostel, it’s best to carry your own locker padlock. You can lock the bag to a piece of heavy furniture or to your companions’ bag. It will be more difficult to steal two bags than just taking one.
Store all your essential documents on the cloud
This should be one of the first things that you take care of before getting started on the trip. You can scan all the essential documents or click pictures of them to upload it on the cloud or email it to yourself. The list of documents should be easily accessible when it’s required without having to waste time surfing for them.
Here are the documents that you should keep safely:
- Travel insurance and medical insurance policy
- Your passport
- Vaccination record
- The credit cards details that you’re taking on the trip
- Receipts for the valuables that you’ll be traveling with; it will be required for your insurance if, by chance, you lose them.
- Vaccination records
To avoid any form of snatch-and-run type robberies, you need to keep your bags tethered around the chair or your leg. You just need to ensure that thieves don’t find it very easy to run away with your bag; it will save you a lot of trouble.
If you’re careful with your luggage, you probably won’t need to assess all these documents. But if the need arises and there is some mishap, it will be much easier to deal with the situation if you have a safe record of all your essential documents.
Get travel insurance
You might think that you don’t require travel insurance until you land in a situation when it comes to great use. Especially if you’re worried about the safety of your travel gear and yourself, you can relax knowing that there is the right insurance covering you.
Moreover, we have seen travelers who are always worried about losing their expensive cameras and laptops. But, why do you want to have any fear in your mind when you’re out to have a good time. With travel insurance, you can rest assured that if anything gets stolen, it will be replaced.
We advise everyone to travel with their property and health insurance because you never know what the future holds. It’s true that if you sprain your ankle, it’s not much of a big deal. But what if contract a life-threatening disease? Or your car crashes? Or you lose your entire travel gear?
These things aren’t surprising because travelers find themselves in such situations. So, it is best to spend a few hundred dollars to get yourself a good travel insurance.
Separate your cash and cards
To be on the safer side, it’s good to do everything that will keep you prepared for worst-case scenarios. For instance; if you’re visiting a busy area it’s best to keep a limited amount of cash in your wallet and store the rest in the inside pocket of your handbag. This saves you from flashing a lot of money when you open the wallet.
This also applies to your credit cards. You should keep only a few of them in your wallet because you don’t want to end up losing all of them at once. We also advise you to save some emergency cash stored in different places in your luggage as well as a hidden backup credit card.
Some of the places that you can hide your emergency cash include:
- Inside a hidden compartment in your bag
- A secret pocket that is tightly sewn into your pants
- Rolled into your spectacle case or an empty chapstick container
- In your shoe
- Scarf with hidden pockets
Carry smaller sums of money
You should try carrying only a small amount of money when you’re traveling. We understand that the high ATM tariffs can make you want to draw out a lot of cash to avoid unnecessary deductions. But, when you walk with a wallet that is stuffed to the brim, you’ll be attracting a lot of unwanted attention.
Moreover, this can lead to a not-so-pleasant situation if you lose your wallet or you get pickpocketed. The simple solution to such issues is to get a card that reimburses all those additional ATM fees. Plus, you have to be careful when you’re a tourist with foreign currency.
Especially in countries like Venezuela, where American dollars are worth an absolute fortune. Local thieves are aware of the fact that backpackers have foreign currency on them; this makes the travelers a common target. Whether you’re robbed or you end up accidentally leaving your wallet in a cab- having a minimal amount of cash in your wallet can save you from a headache.
Ask locals for advice
Most of the local residents are pretty friendly, and if you don’t have a communication barrier, then it gets relatively easy to understand what they have been trying to say. You’ll find them generally advising you on the dangerous parts of the city that you should avoid during your local adventure.
But if you’re taking any advice from a stranger, it’s best to get a second opinion on whatever direction that was given to you. This helps to prevent you from getting scammed or wandering off to an unknown place because the stranger couldn’t understand what you clearly wanted to know.
When it comes to seeking help from taxi drivers, it’s pretty unpredictable whether you’re receiving genuine information, or they might lead you into some trouble.
As per most of our experiences in foreign lands, the hostel and hotel receptionists are a good source for getting for getting local advice. All in all, you should be clear about the standard taxi fares, some of the best food spots in town and the areas that you should avoid!
We can’t advise you enough on how effective it can get if you practice sharing your travel plans with either a family member or your friends. This means that once you have worked out your itinerary, you have to send it to your loved ones immediately before you leave for the trip.
The best method you can adopt is to email the complete itinerary, but ensure that you check up on them to see whether they have received the mail or not. Moreover, you should at least inform your parents about where you’ll be going, what are your general plans and by when will you return. That way, they can inform the local authorities if something seems out of place.
Most likely, the itinerary will never be used, but in case if things go out of hand, you’ll be relieved that someone knows how to track you down. And if you don’t have a perfect plan in place, then you should inform someone regularly of what you’ve been up to.
If you don’t want to put across a roadmap of your movements, you should avoid posting your travel itinerary on facebook or any other social media platforms. You can post pictures of the places but don’t give out too much information because there might be a lot of people with ill-intentions.
We don’t advise you to share too many details regarding your accommodation or travel plans with people that you’ve just met. For instance; if someone asks about where you’ve put up or if it’s your first time visiting that city- it’s best to give some vague answer. Or you can lie about the area that you’re living in and pretend like it isn’t your first time visiting that place.
And if you’re staying in hostels, you’ll enjoy the social atmosphere with a lot of like-minded people. There are chances of you making some new friends, but you should keep your guard up to avoid trusting people very fast.
Try to store your belongings carefully and trust your gut. This helps you stay away from any scams or your ‘new” friends, taking advantage of your situation.
Splurge on extra safety
If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s most likely that you’ll be on the lookout for the cheapest flight, cheapest activities, and most affordable accommodation. This might not be the safest way to travel in a foreign land, because inexpensive living costs is a brilliant idea, but what about the area that you’ll be living in.
Moreover, prices differ according to the development and popularity of the town. The incredibly cheap backpacker hotels are not always the safest alternative, you’ll find rooms without locks, and the entire environment appears like a make-shift homeless shelter.
When it comes to booking a budget flight, you’ll mostly be getting midnight flights. Plus, landing in an unknown place in the middle of the night can be a little scary, especially if you aren’t aware of the local language.
Therefore, it’s a wiser option to stretch your budget a little more to find yourself a convenient flight, a better hotel, tour guide with a clean record, and a safe mode of transportation within the city.
Be aware of your clothing
When you travel to different countries, you should first check up on the local dress codes and laws that protect it. This will help you pack the right set of clothes for your trip. We say this because if you wear the wrong clothes you’ll be looking more like a tourist and that attracts the attention of the thieves and scammers.
For example; in Islamic countries, there are specific guidelines on the regular dress code, and it has been strictly enforced. Similarly, in Barcelona, it’s illegal for both men and women to roam topless. This indicates that wearing the right clothes can keep you away from a lot of trouble, and it’s a sign of respect for the local culture.
You should read the clothing laws of the country that you’ll be visiting, and try to focus on the advice that’s given by expats turned local or the residents. This will save you from attracting unwanted attention without having to appear both uninformed and arrogant by offending the local customs.
Know your limits
Getting too high or drunk when you’re traveling can be pretty risky. It’s important to be aware of the surroundings to avoid placing yourself in a dangerous situation.
We are not advising to stop having fun, but you need to be hyper-aware of what you’re drinking and the quantity. You should not get completely wasted when you’re outside because it can be very risky. It’s not just about being robbed when you’re out of your senses, but you might also get in trouble with the police.
A fair word of warning the police might not be as law-abiding or even forgiving like the ones back home, so it’s better to stay away from such a situation. Moreover, if you’re out partying till late at night, you should not assume that the unfamiliar locations can be relatively safe at night.
Generally, the tourist-friendly spots can turn out to be pretty unsafe at night. And if you’re not in control of your senses after drinking a few glasses of your favorite alcohol, you’ll end up being an easy target for the scammers.
Learn basic self-defense
Life can be unpredictable, so it’s better to stay prepared. You don’t need to have black-blet like skills, but it’s essential to learn a few forms of self-defense. It not only prepares you for the unexpected situation but also improves your physical and mental health.
We understand that it can be hard to imagine that a stranger is attacking you, but such events take place quite often.
And you should learn when to apply the self-defense skills because, at first, you need to avoid physical confrontation to a great extent. If it fails to protect you, that’s when you should attack by ensuring that you can escape from the situation.
It’s often said that the best way to prevent a threat is to move away from any physical attacks. For example; if you’re being attacked by someone who is armed with a gun or a knife, you should hand over the belonging that they are after.
On a similar note, it’s sometimes better to hand over the things that the thieves want, to let you live another day. For an extra level of security, you should keep a pepper spray or a tactical pen you might never know when it comes of great use.
Turn on your GPS
Before you get started on your trip, remember to download the GPS app for an added safety benefit. If your map app/GPS relies on the mobile data connection, then you might face a few challenges when traveling out of your home country.
However, most GPS phone trackers do not require cellular or WiFi connection, so you can do all the navigating and mapping even when you’re on a trail. Moreover, you get an incredible view of the map details, which are stunningly sharp and legible, making it easier to explore places.
If you’re in a hurry, you might leave behind your phone in a taxi, and if it gets stolen, then you’re not only losing a device but a large pile of information. Finding the phone can be a mammoth task, and in some situations, you might not get it back. But, if you enable the GPS software on your iPhone, there are higher chances to track down the phone.
Project situational awareness
Over the last few decades, we have finally realized the importance of a positive body language, be it in the workplace or any social gathering. When you’re confident about yourself, it makes you appear stronger and keeps you away from many potential threats.
You should be aware of your surroundings but mainly focus on staying alert by keeping your head up to avoid any unnecessary challenges. The potential attackers can easily sense the projection of confidence in your body language and eye contact. And most of them will move away from you to find an easier victim to attack.
In most situations, if you maintain direct eye contact with your potential threats, then you can prevent any sort of scam. But to ward off such problems, you need to ensure that they notice you looking at them. Yet in many places, making too much direct eye contact can invite trouble. Overall, you should be aware of the people around you, avoid looking worried and walk with a purpose.
Food and water safety
When you’re out on a trip, there is going to be a large number of new delicacies that you’ll be feeding yourself. And you should be careful of whatever you put inside your mouth because food poisoning is not a pleasant street to go down.
This doesn’t indicate that you need to be scared of the local food when you’re traveling because, for many backpackers, food can be a major highlight of their adventure.
Here’s a list of the tips that you can follow to ensure that you’re consuming the right food:
- Try and watch how your meal is being prepared
- Get advice on the popular food joints that are usually crowded
- The safest option is to eat fully cooked food
- Get translation cards to avoid the ingredients that you’re allergic to
- To prevent bacterial contamination, you should eat peel-able fruits
When it comes to drinking safe water, you should opt for filtered water bottles, mainly if you’re not living around the city. But if you’re worried about purchasing too many plastic bottles, then it’s best to get glass or steel bottles that you can refill from places that serve clean drinking water.
Use your front pocket to keep your wallet
The first place that any pickpocket will check is your back pocket, so it’s best to avoid keeping your wallet there. It’s your front pockets that are more difficult to steal from. But, if you have a habit of keeping your money in the back pocket, then you need to try and stop that at least when you’re on a trip.
However, the best option is to try and sew the back pockets if you can’t seem to break your habit of using the back pocket. If you’re anxious about traveling to an area where there are many pickpockets, you should wear a money belt. This might not only be a great fashion statement, but it will keep you at peace without having to fear about losing your hard-earned cash.
We advise you to carry your wallet in the front pocket because it’s a more challenging target, and a good habit whether you’re traveling outside or at home. Also, it’s terrible for the spine when you keep the wallet in the back pocket. You’ll be surprised that a change of habit can relieve you from that torturing back pain.
Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit
When traveling abroad, a first aid kit is one of the essentials that you shouldn’t forget to pack. No matter how careful you’re, minor injuries are something that comes about, even when you try to avoid it. Also, it’s best to keep a pre-packed first-aid kit to not leave behind any items when you’re in a hurry while packing. You should ensure to store it somewhere that can be accessed easily.
Moreover, you don’t have to pack a whole lot of scalpels or needles, but keep stocking up on medicines for treating minor injuries like- cuts, sprains, burns, and stomach issues. If you have your basic first aid kit on the trip, then it’s not only going to be helpful for you but also fellow travelers.
Here’s a list of the essentials that you must carry in your first aid kit:
- Alcohol wipes
- Adhesive tapes
- Small pair of scissors
- Rehydration salts
- Antihistamines for allergic reactions
- Hydrocortisone cream, for insect bites and rashes
- A small tube of sunscreen
- Travel size petroleum jelly (helps to prevent blisters)
- A set of painkillers (Ibuprofen)
Wear a seatbelt, and a helmet
When you’re traveling places in a car, you should never forget to strap on your seatbelts, no matter whether there is traffic police or not. Your safety should be your main priority, so ensure that you don’t take it lightly. You might find cars that don’t have a seat belt, but when there is one, you must buckle up because you don’t know the state of the road ahead of you.
Plus, if you’re traveling in places across Southeast Asia, it’s pretty famous for tourists to rent motorbikes. It does give you an adrenaline rush, and it’s a great way to go around visiting new places. But, irrespective of which part of the country you’re traveling in, if you’re on a motorbike, the helmet is a bare necessity.
Therefore the helmet and seatbelt should be worn to avoid any first-hand injuries and accidents. And even if you’re very confident about your riding style, there are others on the road who might not be the same. You should not take this lightly, which is why wearing a helmet is a must and don’t ever attempt to drink and drive.
Carry a decoy wallet
It’s essential to carry a decoy wallet to protect you from any identity theft, as well as financial theft. You should arrange a spare wallet with a small amount of cash for your daily expenses and some expired credit cards or membership cards that you don’t mind losing. Plus, the perpetrator won’t have a clue that the cards are useless until they’ve left your side.
Although you can arrange your decoy wallet by yourself, beware of the cards that you’re placing inside. For instance; some of the expired or inactive cards will contain a lot of private information that you might not want to part with. This way, you won’t be losing all your cash by not having to hand over your ‘real’ wallet.
With a decoy wallet in your pocket, you’ll be relieved even if you end up in a sticky situation because you can easily hand over the other wallet without being upset. But, you should avoid looking too smug or enthusiastic while handing over the decoy wallet; otherwise, it will be simple to smell something fishy.
Know how to seek for help
Another essential information that you need to carry along with you is a small note that says ‘help me’ written in the local language. You can use this card in many different situations, and you’ll be thankful for keeping a card that contains all the helpful local phrases.
Learning some of the basic phrases can come of use if you’re lost and need directions, to ask for help in case of an emergency, and you can shout if some passerby is bothering you. You might also require the knowledge of necessary regional language skills, especially if you’re traveling to an area where the locals don’t speak or understand English.
Writing down these phrases is a good idea, but you’ll have to fetch your wallet each time. So, it’s relatively more manageable if you can memorize a few of these lines. If you fail to convey your fear or emotion when you’re in a dangerous situation, just shout in English because, in the end, you need to attract attention to ask for help.
Know where you’re going
It’s fun to wander around the city and go about discovering new places, but if you’re in a new country, you need to be careful of your surroundings. When you’re walking down busy lanes, you should be aware of the direction that you’re headed towards.
And even if you are new to the area, try to look confident or at least fake it. You should avoid standing alone on a street corner, while you’re looking around to find some direction. This is the best time for scammers and street vendors to approach you with various offers that will surely rip you off.
Moreover, if you’re distracted in some public places, pickpockets are finding ways to steal that wallet from you. Plus, if you need to look at the map, the phone is a better option compared to a paper one. If you are not comfortable looking at the phone on the streets, then you can get to the nearest cafe to ask for the right directions.
Travel in numbers
When you travel in numbers, there is an added safety that you’re shielding yourself with. There are more people to look after your belongings; you don’t have to be on guard to prevent being stolen from always. And even if an unexpected attack takes place, you have got your friends to help you out of the situation.
Traveling in a group is much safer when visiting a foreign country because physical presence can be quite intimidating at times, which helps to keep the predators away. But if you’re traveling solo, you can be wise enough to make friends with the right people; then, you can go exploring together.
The best way to win friends on a solo trip is by living in a backpacker hostel. You will find many like-minded people who are as excited as you to take part in new activities. However, when you’re out on a trip, you have to keep your guard up to ensure that you’re trusting the right group of people to avoid being taken advantage of.
Use ATMs wisely
You must have heard the advice of covering the panel with your hands when keying the PIN. That’s one of the best information that is worth following when you’re transacting cash from any ATM, be it while traveling or at home.
This helps you to stay away from intruders looking over your shoulder to see your personal information, or the camera trying to capture the details.
Plus, it’s essential to take a closer look at the ATM. You should try pulling the card reader to check if there are any signs of tampering.
If you can sense any issues with the ATM, you should try informing the authorities, and move on to the other kiosk to avoid any problems. Moreover, you shouldn’t ask for help from strangers to assist you with the transaction if you don’t want to end up in some trouble like someone grabbing the cash and running off.
Be prepared on transportation
You must be aware of the few familiar places that you can have your belongings stolen from, and one of them is on transport. It’s essential to be cautious of your surroundings to prevent any theft or damage to your belongings.
Plus, you should always keep your luggage with you instead of filling it up in the storage space. If you’re traveling by train, you must ensure to lock the bag with a wire to hold it securely in place. That way, you’ll not lose your bag even if you fall asleep. Moreover, you need to research the location thoroughly and the standard fares for all modes of transportation.
Double-check your Uber
When getting into a cab, you should take note of Uber’s unique number. This generally applies to all public taxis that you board. You’ll find this tip to be pretty helpful, whether you’re traveling or at home. And when you book a ride, you should first check the number of the car that is given in the app before you tally it with the number plate.
There have been such instances where fake uber drivers were present outside night clubs, and they were caught taking passengers away. You should not offer your name to the driver straight away; instead, you can ask who are they waiting for.
Over the past few years, there were several cases of kidnappings where the common victims are people on the lookout for their rides. However, this is a rare situation, and it doesn’t take place very often, so there is nothing to be scared of. But, you should take the right precautions to keep away from falling prey to such scams.
Travel safety for men vs. women
You should pay attention to your gut feelings when you can sense signs of danger. When you’re out traveling, it’s important to notice the uneasy feelings because it keeps you safe from many unnecessary situations. Plus, the ability to travel safely doesn’t focus on any specific gender; it applies equally to both men and women.
Unfortunately, women have been the frequent victims of violence, whether it’s in Canada or UAE. Hence traveling doesn’t change the situation, and it doesn’t necessarily increase the threat; it merely changes the location. Women who are scared of facing any assault mostly prefer to visit public places in a circle of friends or with family.
However, men are not completely free of such challenges, which is generally due to ego clashes. For instance; you’ll find men landing up in a physical fight over a petty issue, or they might end up being scammed by some attractive women. In the end, travel safety is all about being street smart, staying prepared for an unexpected situation, and to avoid dangerous spots in the city.
We all love traveling to new exotic places, but unfortunately, a few unforeseen events can end up ruining the trip that you’ve been planning for almost a lifetime. However, with a little effort, you can adopt these safety precautions to make your vacation more enjoyable.
Whether you’re headed for your first trip or you’re a seasoned traveler, these tips will ensure that you travel safely, irrespective of the destination that you’re visiting.
Now that we have come to the end of our guide, we hope it has helped you get some travel safety tips under your belt. So, go ahead and enjoy the trip with confidence.
Till next time, keep exploring!