There is a lot of planning that goes into making travel adventures come to reality. But we shouldn’t overlook safety.
Here are 23 tips you can follow to stay safe on your next trip.
1. Follow the News
Before you travel anywhere, especially international, make sure you check the news of the location you are visiting. Staying up to date on the latest news of your travel destination is a great way to understand what is happening and what the environment will be like when you arrive.
This will give you an idea of how your trip will be. For example, if there is ongoing construction, or protest taking place your visit may be limited or hindered by certain events.
When checking the news, keep an eye out for major events that may be dangerous or have an impact on your visit. Events such as protests, riots, conflicts, and national disasters should be avoided if possible. These events can limit the areas you can visit while you travel and can be highly dangerous.
A great place to start checking the news is on Google news, but if possible, always check local news outlets from your destination. On local news outlets, you will learn much more information than on large or international news outlets.
If you have already traveled to a location where there are undesirable events taking place, I suggest you avoid that location or reschedule your trip to a different city or country that is nearby.
A great example of this is Honk Kong in 2019; there were large protests taking place all over the city. These protests were followed by violent clashes between protestors and police across the city.
Without awareness of the events, you put yourself at risk, so always be sure to stay up to date on the latest news.
2. Learn about Scams
One of the best ways to stay safe when traveling is to familiarize yourself with the common scams from your destination. Learning about common scams across the globe will keep you aware and on the lookout.
Countries and specific cities typically also have unique scams that you should learn and be aware of. By learning about location-specific scams, you reduce the chances of you falling for a scam while you travel.
Since, most scams take place at the same locations or look very similar learning about them will help you stay safe.
A great way to learn about scams is to do a simple Google search with the country or city you are visiting, followed by scams. For example, if you are traveling to Brazil, you should look up Brazil scams. You will often find information on scams from bloggers, travel forums, new sites, or government sites.
3. Check the State Department Website
The U.S has an extremely helpful website that offers travel information on literally every country in the world. They also provide travel alerts to countries that the government recommends avoiding travel to.
The state department only provides high-level information on a country and rarely includes detailed information. If you are looking for more in-depth information on specific cities, it’s a good idea to seek outside news outlets.
Keep in mind that the state department’s advice is on the cautious side, but it does give you a great view of the country along with additional useful travel information. I always recommend you use the state department’s information along with additional information from other sources.
4. Enroll in the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program
If you are a U.S citizen and you are traveling abroad, enrolling in the Smart Travelers program is a great idea. The STP program will connect you with the Embassy in the country of your visit.
The Embassy will then provide you with helpful travel information before and during your trip. Being in contact with the Embassy is a great resource to have while you travel.
The Embassy can also provide assistance during an emergency such as political unrest, national disasters, or physical harm. The Embassy will work to ensure your safety in the event of an emergency.
Registering with the Embassy is a great resource to have to keep you safe in the event of an emergency.
5. Write Down Emergency Contact Info
Keep a copy of your emergency contact information on you at all times in the event of an emergency. I recommend you write your emergency contact information on a card and laminate it and keep it in your wallet or purse.
For additional security I also suggest you keep one in all of your bags as well as a digital copy on your phone.
To ensure your safety on a trip, it is always best to prepare for any situation. Create a safety plan so that if something goes wrong, you will know exactly where to go and who to call.
6. Lock up Your Valuables
When you travel, it is extremely important that you lock up your valuables. The harder it is for a thief to steal your belongings, the less likely they will be stolen.
Adding a small lock to your backpack and luggage is a great way to give your bags some added protection.
If you travel by public transportation such as train, subway, or bus, using a wire lock is also a good option. If you are sleeping or if you need to leave your seat, you can lock your bag to the set and eliminate any worry that your belongings will get stolen.
If you want to have extra protection, there are also slash-proof bag covers that protect your bag against being open with sharp objects. Even if your bag is locked, thieves can still cut your bag to steal your items.
It is also a good idea to clip your purse or backpack to a piece of your clothing or body part. This will give you additional protection against snatch and run crimes. Tourists are often targeted for snatch and run crimes, so it is always good to add additional protection.
7. Only Bring What You Need
When traveling, it is always best to only bring what you need, especially if you are just out for the day. If you have valuable items that you don’t need, leave it at your hotel or hostel locked in safe or locker.
Bringing excessive bags while you are traveling from one location to another can make you a target. Try to keep your bags to a minimum when you are traveling.
When you only bring what you need, if anything does go wrong you won’t loose all your valuables but only a few.
8. Only Use Banks To Withdraw Money
To stay safe while your traveling, I highly recommend you only withdraw money directly from banks. ATM’s can be manipulated to steal your credit card and debit card information.
Using ATM’s leave, you exposed while you are withdrawing your money. Even if you try to cover your pin code you are still at risk.
Often, criminals will target tourists leaving ATM’s because they are aware they will have cash. For the most security, when withdrawing cash, always go inside a bank and receive money directly from a bank teller.
9. Use ATM’s Wisely
As I mentioned before, ATM’s leave you exposed while you are withdrawing cash. If an ATM is the only option, then inspect your ATM thoroughly before using it.
One of the most common areas that is tampered with is the card reader. To make sure it has not been tampered with, give it a pull and make sure it matches with the rest of the ATM.
I recommend you avoid using the ATM at night, ideally try to use it early in the morning.
One of the best ATM’s to use is the Airport ATM. Since airports have constant security there is a less of a chance that it has been tampered with.
10. Learn Self-Defense
Basic self-defense tactics can go along way to helping keep you safe. You don’t need to be a professional fighter to protect yourself. Many gyms and community centers offer basic self-defense classes.
If you do learn any self-defense techniques, it is always important that you apply them responsibly. The goal of self-defense is to protect yourself and help you get as far as possible from the threat.
If you are looking for more advanced techniques to protect yourself, consider taking Muy Thai or Krav Maga. These fighting styles are common techniques used for self-defense.
11. Share your Itinerary with Friends and Family
It is a great idea to share your itinerary with friends and family so that people are aware of where you are visiting and what you are doing. In the event of a worst-case scenario, then your family and friends will know where to find you.
When sharing your itinerary its important that you keep it in private messages or emails. Never share your itinerary on social media because it can get in the hands of the wrong people.
I also recommend that you check in with a friend or family throughout your trip. If something goes wrong, your family will know your last location and be able to contact the correct people and get help if necessary.
12. Keep Your Pockets Secure
When traveling, its important that you keep your pockets secure. In crowded locations, people can grab things from your pockets without you noticing.
To prevent your items from being stolen, the easiest thing you can do is stop using your back pockets. The back pockets are the most vulnerable and first target for pickpockets.
When using your front pockets always keep the items in your front pockets to a minimum. Always stay aware in large crowds and check your pockets often to make sure you haven’t lost your belongings.
Another great option to secure your pockets is to attach your phone and wallet to your pants. This will prevent anyone from being able to steal your belongings from your pockets.
13. Keep Your Valuables Hidden
When traveling, it is important that you don’t flaunt your valuables. Keep jewelry and valuable items to a minimum while your traveling.
If you have any camera gear or electronics, make sure you keep it in a backpack with a lock and try to avoid showing your valuables in public.
Having expensive items will make you a target for thieves in other countries. Keep your valuables hidden to keep them as safe as possible.
14. Protect Your Devices
Before you travel, make sure you password protect your devices. Additional security will make it harder for thieves to reset your device and sell it.
I also highly recommend you add GPS tracking apps to your devices. If you do lose your devices or if someone does steal it, then you will know where it is. This will give you a higher possibility of getting your items back.
Remember, when using your GPS tracking, always contact the authorities. The authorities will give you the safety and power to get your valuables back.
15. Invest In Travel Insurance
To keep your devices safe and protected, you should invest in travel insurance. There are several online agencies that allow you to get insurance for your devices and other valuable belongings.
When getting travel insurance, make sure your plan covers both damage and theft to your belongings. This will keep you covered in the event that anything happens to your belongings on your trip.
If you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, you can ask your carrier if they offer travelers insurance. This will make it easier to extend your coverage to your valuables that you take on your trip.
16. Make Friends with Locals
A great way to stay safe is to make friends with locals. Locals can give you valuable advice about your travel destination.
Locals can give you great information on how to stay safe in your destination. They can also guide you in the right direction to for events and sights you can visit.
Locals are the best source of inside information. Use this information to stay safe and plan properly.
17. Be Careful What you Say
When talking to strangers or new people, always keep lodgings and travel plans private. You never know who you are talking to or who they will share your information with.
Whether you are talking to people in person or on social media, keep your travel plans relatively private. Only share your plans in private with your family and friends.
As you travel, you will undoubtedly get asked questions about where you are staying and your plans. To stay safe, you can be as vague as possible.
If you are starting to feel unsafe, omissions, or small lies can help keep you still communicate with others while keeping you safe.
18. Stay Alert and Aware
When you are traveling, it is always good to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep your head up and continue inspecting your surroundings.
A good way to do this is to stay off any electronics and live in the moment. Often, times its easy to get into unsafe situations if we are not paying full attention to our surroundings.
Also, criminals tend to target individuals who are not paying attention. It is always good to understand where you are, who is around you, and what is going on.
This will help you avoid unsafe situations, and if you do feel you are about to enter an unsafe situation, you can plan and react.
19. Travel in Groups
One of the best ways to stay safe is to travel in groups. If you travel in groups, you are less likely to get targeted by criminals in other countries.
Also, if you travel in groups, you have more chances of recognizing unsafe situations before they begin. Assign, each member of your group to a safety-related task on the trip. This will keep each person alert and active in the safety of the trip.
Traveling in groups is also great because in the event of an emergency you have more people. Traveling in groups will offer added protection that traveling alone does not.
20. Stay Sober
When you are traveling it is always good to stay sober and aware of your surroundings. Becoming intoxicated while you travel puts you in a very vulnerable situation.
If you are intoxicated your judgment and awareness will be impaired leaving you more vulnerable to attacks. When traveling always make sure you stay relatively sober.
If you do plan on drinking it is always a good idea to drink with friends. Keep your friends close and assign one person to every two people that will ensure the safety of others.
21. Be Aware of The Culture Around You
Before you leave on any trip it is important that you learn about the culture that you will be surrounding yourself in. Different cultures have different traditions and cultural expectations.
Its best to learn some of the basic cultural norms and traditions to avoid offending anyone. Learning about culture is also a great way to understand people that are different and can help you make friends.
Understanding the culture will also help you blend in and make you less of a target to criminals. For example, wearing culturally appropriate clothes is a great way to blend in and draw less attention to yourself.
22. Invest in Safety
If you want additional security then you will need to invest in it. Typically investing in better lodgings, transportation, and restaurants will go along way.
The more you invest in your accommodations the safer they will be. It is not always necessary to invest in the most expensive accommodation to stay safe.
But going with the cheapest option will almost always leave you more at risk than any other option.
When investing in your accommodations, keep in mind the safety implications of your options. Invest in moderately priced accommodations will usually keep you safe.
23. Secret Emergency Cash
When you are traveling you never know what is going to happen so I always suggest keeping secret emergency cash on you at all time. You may loose your bag or get stranded somewhere without your friends in either situation having emergency cash is a great resource to help you in any situation.
The amount will depend on your personal preference and the country you are in but I recommend at least $100, I usually have around $200-$300 of emergency cash on me at all times.
It is important that your cash is hidden and hard to find. In the event that you do get robbed you will have an emergency stash so that you can get help. You can use a secret pocket, hidden in your soles, taped to a body part or some hidden compartment.
The most important thing is that others should not suspect that you have any valuables in your secret location.
To be extra safe I recommend you have two different locations for your emergency cash. I typically have a secret location on myself as well as a backpack or random item such as chapstick or deodorant. In the event that your emergency cash is discovered you will still have a backup plan.
A lot of planning and preparation goes into traveling. Unfortunately, one of the most overlooked. Aspects of planning is safety. The 23 tips above will help you plan a safe trip every time.