Staying Safe While Traveling
How do you stay safe while traveling abroad? It’s on everyone’s mind. With recent events, no one can be sure where danger will strike next, so do you just stay home? The media might say yes, but I say no. There is just as much chance that there will be a dangerous incident in your home country as there is in another. There just is no such thing as “the safest city in the world” if you ask my opinion. You can have an accident and get injured anywhere, but by taking just a few precautions and following these few travel safety tips, you can feel safer when journeying abroad.
Do Your Research – Follow Travel Warnings
The first thing you can do is check up on the country you plan to visit. Each government maintains a website giving an overview of every country in the world, news events, and travel warnings. They also provide a place for you to register your itinerary in order to keep tabs on your whereabouts if something like a natural disaster happens in the area that you are traveling. It’s a good idea to note the emergency phone numbers for the country you will be visiting as well.
Alerts and Warnings For Travelers to Foreign Countries
Overseas Travel – Keep Your Family Informed
Things happen. Plans change, but if you plan ahead and give your close family at least a rough itinerary of your trip, then they can easily monitor your location. When traveling overseas, transportation gets delayed, you might get sick from some food, or you just might be having the time of your life, and you won’t be sticking to the original itinerary. That’s okay. You can also write status updates while on your trip, so they know that you are okay. To do this, though, it is important that you don’t give out too much information. A quick message checking in each day is never a bad idea. “Just thinking of you!” or “I’m off to bed after a long day of touring Rome,” will keep your families fear at bay. If you are going off-grid, or planning to, let them know that as well and then message them as soon as you get a chance. Nowadays there is wifi just about everywhere. I was once traveling in the jungles of Malaysia and right at the boat dock was an Internet cafe. There is really no excuse for not keeping your family updated while you are away.
The Social Media Paradox
As stated above, keep your family updated with a quick private message or email as often as possible. However, that does not extend to the world at large. Using social media can also put you in a bit of danger by letting people know where you are, or plan to be. Everyone wants to see photos of you in front of the Eiffel Tower, but maybe wait a day or two after you’ve left Paris to post it. It’s tempting to post everything in real time, but a little wait and no one will be the wiser, and it’s just a simple way to keep you that much safer.
Here are some key hotel safety tips to keep in mind while traveling. When checking in, ask for a room that is not on the ground floor. It’s much easier for someone to break in on ground level. Also, check out your room when you get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new room if you’re not satisfied with the answers to these critical hotel security questions.
- Is there a peephole so you can see who knocks?
- Is there a phone?
- Is there a hotel safe?
- Is there a balcony, and if so, is it connected to other balconies?
- Is it easy to go from the roof to the balcony?
- Does it have a secure lock?
- Do the windows open?
- Make sure they are closed and locked each time you leave?
- Where is the nearest emergency exit?
First, know the traffic rules well enough to know which way to look before crossing the road. Do pedestrian crossings mean the vehicle is required to stop or not? In some countries, yes, but you would be surprised at how many countries don’t require cars to stop for pedestrians. Don’t cross anywhere except an intersection and be predictable, which means do as everyone else is doing or you can confuse the drivers. If you’ve ever crossed the street in Vietnam, you know that it looks scary. My tip, cross with a local. I wait for the oldest lady and walk right next to her. No one would dare hit her and I stay safe, too. If you are in a large city, pay attention to where the hotels are so that you can go inside there and ask directions instead of asking on the street. Hotels usually have someone who speaks English, but more importantly you look like you know what you are doing which signals to a criminal that you are not an easy target.
You run the biggest risk to your person or belongings in places that are filled with people. Places like sports arenas, popular tourist attractions, city halls, are all places that terrorists target so don’t spend any more time in and around them than is necessary. Of course you want to go to the popular tourist sites, but keep as far away from entrances as you can. Also, if you happen to see a demonstration, go the other way. When we lived in South Korea, there were plenty of demonstrations, with plenty of police to try keeping the peace. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but emotions run high and it’s a risk that is just not worth taking.
Just like if you go out anywhere, even at home, it’s a good idea to go with someone. When you are alone you are much more of a target. This can get a little trickier when you are traveling solo, but if you are staying in a hostel, you usually can find a group to go out with. Walking late at night is also a higher risk time, so unless you are in a large, safe group plan to take a taxi back to the hotel. Make sure you have a hotel card to show the taxi driver so there is no miscommunication, and when you are preparing your travel budget just include that necessary expense. No matter where you are in the world, taking safety precautions while partying is imperative.
The most important thing for keeping safe while traveling is to remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t make yourself a target by looking confused, walking down unlit roads, being flashy or loud. Listen to your feelings. If you start to feel uneasy in a situation, get out of it immediately.
Following these few simple travel safety tips, and keeping yourself updated and aware is well worth your time and effort. Your family and your mind can be at ease knowing that you’ve taken precautions and you are in charge of your own travel safety.
Do you have any other travel safety tips to add?
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