8 Travel Safety Tips

Do your research

When you're visiting a new country, don't just research what attractions to see and what food to eat.  It's also important to know about their culture and any different customs they might have.

Take some time and read a guide book or do a Google search to learn about any common scams and what the current travel advisories are.

Have a backup plan

Prepare yourself in advance in case the worst happens and you're robbed while on your trip.

While the theft will be jarring, at least the inconvenience and stress will be minimized if you've planned ahead.  Take these steps before you leave and make a backup plan:

1) Hidden cash

Keep a small backup cash stash and a credit or debit card hidden away deep inside your backpack.

2) Scan documents

Make copies of your passport, credit and debit cards, and any other important documents like visas.  Keep a copy of your scans in your backpack but also upload them online by attaching them in an email to yourself.  If you lose anything, go to the embassy with your scanned documents.

3) Split your medication

If you're taking medication, split it between your backpack and day bag.  That way, if you lose one, you'll still have some supply left.

Don't stand out

Thieves are looking for easy targets so don't stand out as one.  Generally thieves will be targeting tourists so try to minimize how "touristy" you appear.

That means no sandals with white socks and no fanny packs.  Don't carry around a huge, expensive camera around your neck and, for God's sake, don't wear a bunch of flashy jewelry.

Travel Tip
Dress like a local.  Try to blend in with the locals by wearing what they wear.  If everyone is in casual dress don't be walking around in shorts and a tshirt with a map sticking out of your pocket.

Use common sense

In all honesty though, your best defense against having something bad happen to you on your trip is not to be stupid and just use common sense.

1) Don't let your guard down

Just because you feel at home in your dorm room doesn't mean you should be leaving your valuables out and about.  While most fellow backpackers will just be friendly and honest souls, there's always a bad apple in every bunch.  Don't give someone an opportunity to rob you.

2) Watch your drinking

It dulls your senses and you become vulnerable.  So, when you drink, keep yourself in control - don't become an obnoxious drunk.  It's way too easy for someone to take advantage of a drunk tourist - especially an obnoxious one who they feel "deserves it".

3) Avoid public demonstrations

While you might be used to peaceful demonstrations back home, some public marches and demonstrations can become violent quickly.  Also, be aware, that participating in a political demonstration in some countries will put your travel visa for that country at risk.
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Stay alert

Be aware of your surroundings and of your belongings.  Thieves will pounce when you're most distracted.  It only takes a second for someone to steal your bag lying at your feet while you're taking a photo.

Keep valuables like your wallet and phone in your front pockets as it's harder for pickpockets to get at.  Also, be especially vigilant when traveling in high pickpocket areas like metros and packed tourist areas.

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Keep your valuables safe

As a rule of thumb, you don't want to make yourself into an easy target so keep all that flashy jewelry and bling back at home.  If you're carrying a camera or a phone, make sure they're securely in your pockets or day bag.

1) Separate your money

When traveling, you'll find yourself walking around with larger sums of money than you're used to back home.  Separate that money and just carry around what you need for the day in your pocket.  The rest of the money can be kept in a secure money belt or locked up back at your hostel.

2) Lock it up

Along with extra cash, also lock up anything valuable you're not taking out for the day like your passport or laptop.  While almost every hostel universally will have individual lockers in their dorm rooms, don't render them useless by putting a flimsy lock on it.  If you need to, you can always leave your valuables at the front desk.

3) Secure your stuff

Always keep your bags locked up - even in the safe confines of your dorm room.  Use a TSA approved padlock so if airport security goes through your bag they don't leave you with a cut unlocked lock on your bag.

In transit

When going from city to city, try to keep anything valuable on your person or in a carry-on bag.  Some places are notorious for having items stolen from checked bags.  If going by bus, make sure you see them load your bag into the baggage area below.

If you're traveling by train or bus and need to secure your bags temporarily, consider getting a backpack & bag mesh protector which will encase your bag and allow you to lock it securely to something.

Get travel insurance

Make sure you buy some travel insurance before you leave for your trip.  In the unlikely event something bad happens to you while you're traveling, at least you'll be covered.

Insurance will help you get back on your feet and make sure that something bad doesn't ruin your entire trip.

1) Do I really need it?

We tend to think of insurance as an unnecessary cost but, the truth is, it's an invaluable safety net for when you're traveling.  If your bag is lost or stolen, you become ill or you end up in a political coup or worse, you'll have help on the way.

2) Get the right insurance

If you're planning on doing extreme adventures like skydiving or rock climbing you might need to get a different policy than a basic travel one.

3) Going through the United States

If you're traveling through the USA (even if it's a quick layover in the airport), make sure you're covered for that.  A slip and fall in the airport could cost you thousands!

Check in

Before you leave, give someone back home a copy of your itinerary that includes your flights and accommodation bookings.  Let them know your general schedule of where you'll be and also give them any important travel information like travel insurance and banking info.

Stay in touch with people via social media or email on a consistent schedule.  People will know you're okay and if you're in trouble they'll know how to locate you.
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More Travel Tips

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10 Common Travel Scams
The 10 Worst Cities For Pickpockets
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