When you’re on the road or planning your next trip, travel safety may not be at the top of your mind.
There are far more interesting and exciting things to plan and pay attention to, right?
But what if one of your valuable possessions goes missing? What if you get caught in a scary situation in a strange city? What if you injure yourself or get sick and don’t know what to do?
While we are always hopeful that none of these things will happen, it is always a good idea to take precautions and plan for if something goes wrong.
To take some of the stress out of it for you, I’ve listed below 12 important travel safety tips to help keep you protected while you’re out there living the dream.
1: Buy Travel Insurance
I cannot stress enough how important it is to insure yourself and your belongings before a trip.
Insurance can be pricey, and hopefully you’ll never need to make use of it, but it is an important safety net if something goes wrong.
No matter how careful you think you’ll be, some things are completely out of your control and you could end up with a large medical bill, a cancelled flight, a lost bag or a stolen possession.
Your insurance can cover you for any and all of these things.
Book an appointment with a travel nurse and talk with them about your destinations and whether you will need any vaccinations or anti-malaria tablets before you leave.
Some vaccinations are pricier than others and I found it helpful to speak with a professional about which ones are absolutely necessary and which are optional (if you’re careful and know what to do if something bad happens).
Anti-malaria tablets usually need to be taken for a week or so before you enter and after you leave the area where malaria is present, so this needs to be planned in advance.
The travel nurse will advise you of the exact amount of time you need to take them for.
There are a few different types of anti-malaria tablets, and a conversation with a professional will help to ensure you are prescribed the right type (I had a bad reaction to Larium, but was fine with Doxycycline).
3: Copy Important Documents
It’s a good idea to have a copy of your passport, travel insurance policy and flight details with you (separate to the originals), and another with a trusted friend or family member at home, who can pass on the information to you if any of your copies are lost.
You can also upload the documents onto a memory stick or an online storage site; just make sure they are backed up in one way or another.
It is a good idea to get yourself up to date with the local customs and culture, to ensure you don’t unknowingly cause offence or break a law and find yourself in a very difficult situation.
Be aware that clothing is important in some cultures, and you will not receive a warm welcome if you turn up to a Thai temple in tiny shorts and a tank top.
Do your research and respect the locals.
5: Learn the Language
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you become fluent in the language of every country you plan to visit (more power to you if you do!).
But learning a few helpful keywords and phrases could make the world of difference if you end up lost or in trouble and in need of some help.
6: Check Reviews
Whenever you’re booking a tour, experience or somewhere to stay, always try to find reviews from previous customers first.
Steer clear of anywhere that doesn’t have any reviews, or that people have expressed concern about in terms of safety and feeling comfortable.
There will always be bad reviews as well as good on the majority of places you look at, so it’ll be down to your own judgement whether you decide to take them too seriously or not.
7: Look up your local Embassy/Consulate
It is always a good idea to know where the nearest embassy or consulate for your home country is, as they can provide help, advice and a little taste of home if you find yourself in trouble.
I used the British Consulate in Bangkok once after a traumatic incident, and they were SO helpful, caring and considerate, and made sure I had everything I needed to keep me going.
They even offered me a proper cup of tea!
8: Emergency Numbers
Look up the local phone number for the emergency services and make sure it is saved on your phone.
Being able to call them in a flash could save a life!
9: Keep Your Money in Multiple Locations
If you have a significant amount of cash, split it up and hide it in different places, preferably separate from your cards.
Remember that leaving cash locked in your hotel room does not mean it is safe, as you will definitely not be the only person with a key!
Ask if the hotel has a safety deposit box if you want to leave anything valuable when you go out.
I made this mistake in Cambodia: not wanting to take all my cash out with me, I left most of it in my room.
When I returned, the cash was gone.
The guesthouse I was staying in did have a safety deposit box, which I had not used up until that point, and of course they took no responsibility for my missing dollars.
10: Keep Your Belongings in Sight
This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer.
However, it is easy to put your bag down in a packed train station while you fumble in your pocket for your ticket, and momentarily take your eyes off it.
This could be a thief’s perfect opportunity!
Remember, if you LOOK like a tourist, you’re probably considered an easy target.
Always keep your belongings in sight and don’t take any chances.
11: Be Confident
The more you look like you belong, the less of a target you will be (see previous point).
Always try to look like you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going until you can stop in a safe place to check your map.
Something as simple as confidence can go a long way towards keeping you safe, whether it’s out on the streets when you’re sightseeing or in a bar with the locals at night.
12: Use Common Sense
This is possibly one of the most important pieces of advice I can give in terms of travel safety: use your common sense!
If something feels wrong or you’re even slightly uncomfortable, get out of the situation and head to somewhere you feel safe.
We don’t tend to give our instincts enough credit, but it’s a good idea to start listening to them more when you’re travelling.
You will find yourself out of your comfort zone regularly, so listen to your gut and only go ahead with something if you’re completely happy with it.
These travel safety points are here to guide you, but do not let fear of the unknown spoil your trip.
Remember: bad things can happen anywhere, including your home town, and going somewhere new does not mean that you are any more at risk as long as you are sensible, responsible and use your common sense.
What do you think of these travel safety tips? Is there anything you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Travelling with anxiety: a personal experience story
- How to stay healthy while travelling
- 13 essential planning tips for long-term travel
Images in this post are from Unsplash