Travelling can be such a thrilling experience. Whether it’s because you’re visiting a new culture or getting to meet new people or just having a new adventure. It is important to remember that you need to stay safe while travelling and here are some top tips to look after yourself when away.
1. Do Your Homework
Research your destination before your travel. This may be the local cultures and customs, being prepared for what weather you can expect when there and knowing what to look out for. Know how to avoid accidentally offending someone. Be aware of the local scams.
2. Get comprehensive travel insurance and make sure you have the documents for it!
When you are travelling, it is vital to have cover if you require medical assistance. Ensure that all the countries you are visiting are included in the policy, as well as any pre-existing conditions. Make sure that you are covered by an appropriate amount. If you were to have a heart attack in America, the average cost of treatment is $760,000.
3. Ensure you have all your documents and itineraries (printed out and in local language)
Phones and tablets run out of charge and prevent the panic by having everything printed out and with you. Booking references, phone numbers, addresses and travel instructions (along with your insurance policy number and contact number) will alleviate that stress. Depending on where you are travelling and for how long, take copies of your passport and research your local embassies at your destination.
4. Invest In A Decent Bag
Seriously! Invest in a decent bag, avoiding little clutch handbags that can be quickly snatched and any other items with narrow or flimsy straps. Avoid large backpacks with multiple pockets that can easily be opened. I have a camera bag that has a lockable zip to prevent pickpockets. Don’t store your phone or wallet in a back pocket and make sure any bag has a secure zip to avoid stray hands.
5. Have A Secret Stash Of Cash
Don’t carry all of your money and bank cards in one place. Utilise a money belt to protect items and ensure that you have enough funds with you in the event of a small emergency. Still, use your wallet or purse as your secret stash should remain secret. Only withdraw cash from official local banks, rather than just any random ATM. Be sensible about changing money in local stores or on the street as it may be a scam.
6. Try To Blend In
Nothing makes you more of a target than sticking out like a tourist. Whether this is being distinctly dressed or carrying expensive jewellery or technology or designer clothing, try to pick up some of the local languages, even if it is just ‘hello’ ‘goodbye’ ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘please’ ‘thank you’.
7. Be Bar Savvy
Enjoy your holiday but take it easy on the alcohol. The amount of alcohol in a cocktail can be a lot more than you expect and most European beers have a high alcohol content. Never leave your drink unattended. Make sure you know how to get back to your accommodation before you head out. Check you know when the last bus/train/cab is and what taxi firms to use.
8. Travel Light
Logically, the fewer items you have to carry around the less likely you are to lose them or have them stolen. Keep an eye on your belongings when in public spaces and never leave them unattended.
9. Chose The Best Accommodation For You
Read reviews before deciding on your accommodation. Ensure that your housing is adequate for your needs and has the facilities that you require whether this is a secure safe or decent wifi. If it doesn’t feel right when you arrive, find alternative arrangements.
10. Be Prepared
My friends laugh at me regarding this point! I carry a small first aid kit with me at all times, even when at home in London/UK. This includes paracetamol, plasters; eye drops, diarrhoea tablets, bite cream and antihistamines as a minimum. This way you are prepared for a few medical emergencies wherever you are. It may not be feasible to get to a pharmacy (you may still be on the plane!), so it is worth having a few items with you, just in case.
11. Think About What You Are Sharing on Social Media
If everyone knows that you are travelling and that you are currently not home, your property is now a possible target. Quite an extreme example of this happened when a prominent footballer had his house broken into when he was playing in a televised match. Be careful about sharing too much personal information especially if adding new friends to your social media. A good rule of thumb is to think, would I share all this information with a stranger?
12. Speak to People
Let someone know where you are going and what you are doing. This should be someone at home, providing regular updates especially if travelling solo. Arrange designated check-in times, so that if you don’t call or text they know something is up. If you are visiting in a group or staying at a secure hotel, speak to someone you trust to let them know your plans.
13. Trust Your Instinct
Even in your hometown, there are probably places that you would avoid especially at night. Be sensible, use your common sense and trust your instinct. Your gut is generally right!
Although these tips sound a bit like common sense, it is worth reiterating them to encourage any traveller to look after themselves when they are away from home. Crime happens anywhere in the world and gives your destination the respect without fear. A lousy experience shouldn’t ruin your trip.