How to travel safely

People travel for countless reasons, whether to discover new frontiers, experience new adventures, pursue business opportunities, or simply to rest and relax. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that while it can be fun and adventurous, travelling abroad also carries risks. Unwary tourists can make easy targets for thieves because they stand out in a crowd, are unaccustomed to their surroundings, and are usually carrying money, credit cards and valuables such as phones and cameras. You can reduce your risk of being mugged or caught in a dangerous situation by taking a few simple precautions.

Before you go;

Get Informed

• First of all, research your destination thoroughly before you leave. Make sure to do a complete risk assessment of the country you are thinking of visiting, such as safety and security, health conditions, political and economic environment, local laws, cultural norms and customs. The more you know about where you are going, the safer and happier your travels will be.
• Be aware of any Travel Warnings or Alerts in effect for your intended destination, which warn you about the risks and may affect your travel plans.
• Find out about health precautions. Talk to a doctor or nurse to inquire whether you need any vaccinations or prescriptions for your trip abroad and if there are local health issues for which you should prepare.
• Learn how to handle your money. Get information about exchange rates, debit/credit cards, and ATMs.
• Prepare maps of your destination to locate routes, attractions, and essential services you might need.

Get Required Documents

• Make sure you have a current, valid passport if you are traveling anywhere. It should be valid for at least six months, and needs to have two or more blank pages.
• In addition to a passport, you may also need a visa before you travel to a new destination. For more details, contact the embassy of the country you will be visiting.
• If you are planning to drive, do check to see if your driver’s license is valid abroad.
• As a precaution against loss or theft, make photocopies of of all your travel documents – your passport, airline tickets, visa. Leave one set of copies with a trusted friend or family member at home and carry the other with you separately from your documents.

Get Travel Insurance

• Travel insurance could save your life, reimburse your unexpected expenses and provide you with the security you need. Just make sure your travel insurance covers all medical expenses for illness or injury, loss or theft of luggage and valuables, and flight cancellations or interruptions.

GETTING PACKED

• Travel light. You will be much less vulnerable if you are not weighed down with a lot of luggage. Don’t bring along a lot of cash, credit cards, or valuables such as jewelry. Instead, bring travelers’ checks, a credit card, and only a small amount of cash.
• Make sure your baggage is labeled. Use luggage tags that hide your contact information.

TRANSPORT SAFETY

• Consult your hotel or a tourist information center about the public transport in the destination. Make sure you know how to recognize the official and reputable taxi cabs in the area.
• When driving, keep all doors locked and windows up. Park in well-lit and well-traveled areas.
• If you are having problems with your car, only accept help from police or authorized personnel.
• Don’t pick up hitch hikers. Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.

HOTEL SAFETY

• Find the nearest emergency exits, fire alarm and fire extinguisher, and emergency plans, just in case.
• Ensure the door of your room is locked at all times, even when you are inside.
• Keep your room number and location private.
• Use the hotel safe to store valuables.

OUT AND ABOUT

• Be aware of your surroundings, stay vigilant and keep an eye out for pickpockets and bag-snatchers.
• Avoid incidents such as fights and riots, large crowds, public demonstrations, or confrontations and marches.
• Don’t make yourself an attractive target. Don’t wear expensive jewellery , don’t “flash” your cash or other valuables. Leave important items in your hotel safe, and carry only essentials.
• Try to blend in with the locals as much as you can – or at least try not to stand out. Avoid looking or acting like a tourist. Match your dress style to that of the locals. Notice how the locals dress and dress accordingly. Don’t wear an obvious ‘tourist’ outfit with a camera around your neck.
• Know where you are going and how to get back. Always carry the address from your hotel with you. Examine street maps before going out and avoid opening a map in a public area. If you get lost, ask for directions from a police officer, storekeeper, or try calling your accommodation.

By now, you know that travelling involves not only rewards but also risks. Still, this review should broaden, not limit, your spirit of adventure. These travel safety tips should give you a firm foundation for traveling safely in the future. Thorough preparation is your key to safe and successful travel. By planning ahead, you will avoid hassles later. With increased awareness, careful preparation, and a measure of caution, you can travel almost anywhere responsibly and safely.