With a whole world to explore, there are very few reasons why you shouldn’t book a flight abroad if you have the time and money to afford you the possibility.
However, many people refuse to travel widely, despite having the option to do so. There are all kinds of reasons why they don’t – family commitments, fear of the unknown, and a lack of traveling companions being just some of the excuses people might use. Another fear is often around being able to put their safety first.
When there are news stories in the media about people being arrested for breaking local customs, and circulated stories about travel scams and health risks (hello, coronavirus!), it’s little wonder that some people decide to stay at home or, at the very least, within countries that are familiar to them.
Of course, there are also those people who throw caution to the wind. Instead of putting safety first, they put themselves in the line of danger by visiting those countries that are known to be unsafe, and by risking their life and limb taking part in dangerous activities without the necessary safety precautions.
So, on which side of the coin do you fall on? Do you play it overly safe and limit your travel adventures? Or do you take risks on your travels abroad?
Whichever side you fall, you need to know this. It is possible to stay safe while you’re away! So, be you a fearful traveler or a foolhardy adventurer, keep this in mind, and follow the tips below for the protection of your health and personal safety.
Here are just a few of the ways to put safety first on your travels.
#1: Don’t visit those countries that you know are going to be unsafe
At the time of writing, people are being warned against visiting China because of the coronavirus. Being a responsible person, you know where’s best to avoid.
It’s probably also best to skip a visit to any other country where there is a risk of another viral outbreak, or where there are political wars and other situations could potentially put your life at risk. So, show responsibility when researching where to go, and if you know dangers are present, direct your attention elsewhere.
#2: Keep a note of emergency contact details – safety first!
Even if it’s only for your peace of mind, ensure you have emergency contact details to hand. These should include the local ambulance and police services, as well as the details of your nearest embassy.
You might also want to keep a note of the contact details of your friends and family, just in case you need to reach them in an emergency. Having the phone number of your bank is also a good idea in the event your bank card is stolen. Hopefully, you will never have to reach out to anybody, but you never know when a disaster might strike, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
#3: Keep your phone topped up
In connection with our last point, keeping your phone topped up with credit is a necessity. If something did happen, and you ran out of phone funds or your battery was out of charge, you would find yourself in a very difficult situation indeed.
So, always carry a travel charger around with you, and charge your phone before making any long trips. You might also want to purchase a remote phone charger, as you would then be able to keep your phone alive without the need for a connection socket. And look for a sim plan that you are able to use abroad.
An affordable option is the Smarty pay as you go sim as you only pay for what you need, but do your research and look at any other data plan that offers international roaming. By doing so, you need never be out of reach of those important others who could help you should you get in trouble.
#4: Research travel scams
Tourists are easy targets for those people looking to make a fast buck. From ‘injured beggars’ who aren’t injured or homeless at all, to swindlers looking to make money by selling fake items to you, it pays to know what and who to look out for when you are on your travels.
Take a look at these common travel scams, for example, and then research the country you are planning on visiting for any specific scams local to the areas you will be staying in.
#5: Keep your belongings safe
Use your common sense. Don’t leave loose change or valuable items lying around in the hotel room or hostel you are staying in, and don’t parade your prized possessions on you when you’re out and about.
If you’re staying in a hotel, enquire as to their secure storage facilities and make use of them if they are available to you. Invest in a lock for your suitcases too, and consider these genius ways to keep your valuables hidden when you’re walking around.
The less of a target you are, the safer you will be, so be sensible and do what you can to protect your possessions.
#6: Surround yourself with others
Especially when traveling solo, it is important to stick near other people when possible. You are less likely to be attacked and robbed when there are other people nearby, so join walking tours and other group events where possible, and find a travel buddy or two when visiting potentially unsafe areas.
Check out these other tips for safer solo travel, as they cover all aspects of safety when traveling alone. But even if you are traveling with others, there might be occasions when you find yourself alone, so remember to find safety in numbers so you don’t leave yourself in a vulnerable position.
#7: Get travel insurance
This is a no-brainer, we know, but people sometimes forego insurance when trying to keep travel costs down. Make sure you’re not one of those people.
If you are robbed of any of your possessions, or if you find yourself in need of money for a medical emergency, your insurance coverage will prove invaluable.
Before you travel, research local insurance providers and remember to read the small print on any contract before signing to ensure you are covered for all eventualities.
#8: Be careful what you say to others
Here’s the thing: Most people can be trusted. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t reveal where you are staying to complete strangers, and don’t broadcast your whereabouts on social media.
Don’t talk about your finances to others, either, and don’t share any other information that could put your personal safety at risk. You can still talk to people, of course, and you can post pics on your Instagram pages. However, be sensible and don’t make yourself a target.
#9: Research cultural laws
The last thing you want to happen when you’re away is to be thrown into prison for doing something you perceive as harmless. But you might, as the clothes you wear, or the gestures you use, could be considered offensive within some cultures.
Research the country you intend to stay in and learn more about their cultural laws.
Find out as much as you can about rules and regulations, and keep these in mind when you’re choosing what outfits to pack into your bags, and when you’re out and about in your chosen destination.
#10: Go easy on the alcohol
When traveling, you might be tempted to enjoy the occasional night out, and you could fall in with other people who encourage you to drink.
You may also have one too many cocktails when lounging by the pool or when you’re on the beach, or have a few drinks with your meals. The downside of all this drinking? Well, you might get drunk, of course, and this could compromise your personal safety.
You could give away more information about yourself to others than you should, for example, or you might leave yourself in a vulnerable position if you pass out.
So, be sensible, and go easy on the alcohol.
There are other drinks you can enjoy, and these won’t put you at risk when you are traveling.
#11: Use your common sense and put your safety first
Finally, this is your safest defense against potential threats. While it’s okay to take the occasional risk, you should still protect yourself from undue harm.
Be careful when visiting new areas, and don’t bypass signs that suggest dangers. Be vigilant when you’re in public, and don’t flash your camera or money around. Take note of the activities you choose to take part in, and go with practitioners who showcase their safety credentials.
Follow the other suggestions we have given you in this article, and you should be safe as houses.
Don’t be put off your travels because of safety risks, and don’t purposely put yourself on the path marked ‘danger.’
Follow our advice, and protect yourself while you’re away.