Woman using smart phone on vacations in Athens

Travel Safety Tips for those with Wanderlust!

When wanderlust visits, it’s time to travel! The world is huge and awaits you with millions or beautiful sights and destinations. Traveling is one of the most satisfying endeavors we can look forward to. With more and more people roaming the world in the age of globalization, it is more important than ever to practice safety. Below, find some of the top tips to make your trip as enjoyable and unforgettable as it can be.

Research your destination

Perhaps the most important tip of all, it is important to know as much as you can about your destination before arriving. There are millions of online traveler reviews. Additionally, if possible, consult with locals for the best information in real time. Someone who lives there can let you know location specific issues you should know about.

Another fantastic resource is the State Department’s website for country updates and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Know who to call

Make sure you are aware of whom to call in an emergency. Get the contact information for the nearest embassy or consulate, police station, and other local emergency departments.

Each country has its own emergency code. Write it down and keep it in your wallet. Just in case. A quick google search will give you a list of the numbers with similar functions as 911 does in the United States. Many countries have different numbers for fire, police, medical and ambulance services.

Be wary of your valuables

It’s usually smart not to wear flashy valuables when abroad. They can be huge signals for criminals or scammers. If you do need to keep valuables during your trip, leave them in the hotel or lock them somewhere in town.

It’s smart always carry a few travel locks with you to store bags in lockers if necessary. You can also lock the bag itself, so nobody can go through it.

If you must leave your bags somewhere, like in an unsecured storage room in a hotel, you could lock it to a shelf or to your travel companion’s bag. It would be much more difficult to steal two bags locked together than just one.

Handle your money wisely

If possible, keep smaller amounts of money on your person. Those annoying ATM fees make it tempting to withdraw as many bills as possible and walk around with a fortune. But this leads to a far worse situation if you get pickpocketed or lose your wallet.

You can always take a card that reimburses your ATM fees.

Share your plans

Travel alone if you want, but…

It’s a good idea to share your plans with someone at home. Yes, many of us have family members that will worry too much, in that case, give your plans to a trusted friend.

It’s unlikely they will ever need the information to try to locate you, but you’ll be happy someone out there can track you down in case something goes wrong.

Additionally, if you don’t have a set travel plan and are just going with the flow (good for you!), do your best to check in from time to time with someone at home. That way, if they don’t hear from you for an unusual amount of time, they will know something is wrong.

Know your limits, keep control

Looking out for pickpocket and scammers is only a part of travel safety. It’s just as important to be sure you’re not finding yourself in dangerous situations where you could get hurt.

Everyone is skydiving, but it makes your stomach turn? Don’t feel up to cruising on a motorbike? It’s okay to pass. Also, while you might go out and party on a weekly schedule at home, be vigilant and careful when you drink alcohol abroad.

Its normal and okay to enjoy your trip with a local beer or an exotic cocktail, but maintaining control is pivotal when you’re in places you’re not super familiar with. Employ common sense and know how to get back to your hotel. (Memorize the name, write down the information or have it saved on your phone.) Also, just like at home, handle your own drinks.

Don’t draw unwanted attention

Tourists or anyone who looks foreign or simply from out of town are very vulnerable to crime, so blending in can really add an element of safety. Wear inconspicuous clothing that won’t stand out. Be discreet and approach locals carefully if you need directions.

There are also many companies that sell protective gear and clothing that will make it much harder for tricky pickpockets to take your money or other personal items.

In popular locations or busy places, have a plan of where you want to go and how to get there ahead of time. Even if you’re not sure where you want to go, act confident anyways! Just fake it. Most likely, this will keep anyone from targeting you.

Keep your important documents available

It’s likely you’ll be carrying necessary documentation with you when traveling abroad. Just in case, make a digital backup of hear important documents, such as: medical insurance card, your immunization record, itinerary, passport, plane tickets, travel insurance, and visas. Try to have this all ready before leaving.

Email the file to your own inbox so you can access the them from your smartphone or anywhere else if the paperwork is lost or damaged.

Invest in travel insurance

Some people believe that they do not need travel insurance. However, nothing could be further from the truth

Your general health insurance might provide some international coverage, but it’s likely  that it doesn’t cover sudden illness, injury, or even death when you are on foreign soil.

Your items need to be insured as well. We’ve all heard story of a friend who lost half their stuff for some reason or another. Make sure that you, your travel companions, and everything you take on your journey are robustly insured before you even get on plane.

Mind what you eat

Who doesn’t want to gorge on the variety of delicious and exotic food you’re about to be exposed to, especially in places like France or Italy. Before hopping in the delicious deep end and eating your heart out, you may want to consider if the food is safe.

What we know as health codes are not universal. Some countries do not regulate food safety at all. In these cases, foodborne illnesses are much more likely to occur, and they can really mess up your trip or vacation.

Of course, not everything or everywhere you eat is going to make you sick. But it is pivotal to pay attention to hygiene. If a location looks dirty, the chances of you getting ill increase significantly. If the product seems to have been in the sun or unrefrigerated, it could have germs that your stomach may not be ready to digest.

Know the culture

Take a moment and observe the people and cultures. Notice what the locals do before you walk into a public space or even pick out something on a corner stand. You’ll keep from going into location in which you don’t belong infer what good customs are in that society.

Dress conservatively in cultures where what your wear might reflect respect. It’s best to try to blend in than to risk offending. In the initial research, you should have found information on important traditions and customs that could affect your trip.

Don’t forget your home!

Don’t forget your precious home while you’re away having a blast! Before you depart for your trip, you should stop or forward mail delivery. A stuffed mailbox is like a billboard on your home that says, “no one is home.” It can attract burglars. And of course, have a family member or close friends check in occasionally.