Top Tips for Staying Safe on Your Travels
Seeing the world is a blessing. For most people, their passport is their most treasured possession, and getting to view the four corners of the globe in person, greeting new cultures, learning new languages, and meeting people you would never have met, is something you should never stop doing.
The problem is that the world is not as safe as it once was. You could argue that it has never been safe, but with the rise in political unrest, terrorism, and various other forms of violent crime, there are more risks to deal with than we would like. Whilst travel is never going to be 100% risk free, there are many ways you can minimize your risks, stay safe, and get to see those amazing sights on your bucket list, without having to worry about a thing.
Stay in Touch and Update Folks Back Home on Your Plans
It’s not difficult to check in back home nowadays thanks to ever-present WiFi. Even if you are in an area which doesn’t have the best connection, you will always be able to find somewhere for an hour or so, where you can check in back home with friends and family. This is great on many levels. You can minimize home sickness and keep on top of what’s going on, you can share your photos and make everyone jealous, and you can also check in so that everyone knows you’re safe.
Make sure that someone knows your plans, i.e. if you’re backpacking that someone knows your general itinerary, and if your plans do change, let someone know.
Leave Paperwork Copies at Home
It’s a good idea to leave a copy of your passport, travel insurance, and any visa paperwork at home. If you happen to lose your passport, having a copy at home with numbers and identifiers on will make getting a replacement much easier. The same goes for any insurance documents. It’s very easy to lose paperwork whilst you’re moving around.
It’s a good idea to scan any important documents and store them in your email inbox or Cloud storage too.
Don’t Flash Your Valuables
Leave anything valuable at home. You are not there to show people your new iPhone, you’re there to see the sights! Flashing valuables makes you a target for thieves and other unscrupulous types, so stick to basics and leave everything else at home. If you do need to bring certain gadgets with you, e.g. for work, then leave them locked up in the hotel safe.
Keep an Eye on the News
It’s a good idea to download a news app onto your phone or tablet and to keep checking in daily. If anything happens, you’ll be aware of it and can take action as necessary. You should also check up to date Government advice on your destination before you go and during your visit and store your country’s embassy telephone number in your phone, just in case.
Dress to Blend in, Not to Impress
Travel isn’t a fashion show, not if you want to stay safe in certain parts of the world. If you’re travelling to the Middle East, for example, it’s always best to dress modestly and conservatively. Women might like to think about covering their head in certain parts of the area, and always cover legs and arms, chests, etc.
This isn’t just about dressing for safety, but also respecting customs and religions. By wearing clothes that people may consider to be revealing, you might also open yourself up to unwanted attention, especially if you are a female traveller.
Do Not Trust a Stranger
Remember when your parents told you not to speak to strangers? The same goes when you’re travelling. Of course, be polite, answer questions and speak if you want to, but do not trust anyone you have just met, do not get into a car with them, and do not give them anything of yours, e.g. money or anything to look after. Equally, do not accept gifts. This is all common sense, and whilst it might sound harsh, not everyone is as kind-hearted as you would like to believe.
Learn a Few Words of the Language
Before you head off, familiarize yourself with a few words. ‘Hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘help’ are all good starting points. This also shows locals that you are a serious traveller who is respecting their language and area. By doing this, you will gain their respect and trust and that makes your visit much safer overall.
Be Careful What and How Much You Drink
If you’re going to partake of an alcoholic beverage or two, that’s fine, but be careful of measures. These can be much larger than you’re used to back home and you’ll find yourself intoxicated much faster. As at home, always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended. It’s just common sense.
Stick to Group Tours in ‘at Risk’ Areas
There are certain areas of the world which are considered dangerous, however this is only if you venture out and explore on your own, off the beaten track. In these types of places, e.g. anywhere in Africa, perhaps certain parts of the Middle East, stick to organized group tours, which have a guide taking you around the main sites. IN this case, you’ll be safer, you’ll get to learn more about the sights you’re seeing, and you’ll meet like-minded travellers too, so it’s a win-win.
The world might be a slightly more dangerous place these days, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring. Simply be mindful of your safety, and don’t take any risks you wouldn’t take at home.