Even frequent travelers sometimes overlook extremely easy ways to stay safe while traveling. From travel documents to handling money, every aspect of your trip could cause a concern if handled lightly. We’ve outline some strategies to travel safely without spending the entire trip stressed about being mugged, injured or in debt.
1. Have multiple ways to use your money.
Essentially, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. By diversifying the type of currency you have (cash, travelers’ checks and credit cards), you are much more likely to bounce back from an unfortunate event, such as being mugged or losing your baggage. Keep extra cash or a spare credit card in the safe at your hotel, this way in case everything seems to be going wrong, you have money in a secure place.
2. Put money in a secure spot.
Like we said before, extra money in your hotel safe is a great option. Here we are also referring to where you keep money when you are out and about. Avoid keeping money or important documents in your back pocket or in a purse that doesn’t close. Pick-pockets are extremely good at what they do without you even realizing. Use a cross-body purse that zips or snaps securely shut, and keep it in front of you instead of behind you. Men – keep your wallet in your front pocket or a bag that closes securely.
3. Make hard and digital copies of all travel documents.
If you lose your travel documents, like a visa or a passport, while you are traveling, you are going to need proof that you actually did obtain the proper documents before leaving the country. Make hard copies of all these important documents and keep them in your hotel safe. We also recommend making digital copies and sending them to a close relative that is staying behind. Both of these things can help to streamline any new documents needed or help returning your home country.
4. Invest in travel insurance.
While travel insurance is a reactive benefit, not proactive, it is extremely important for staying safe while traveling. Not only will the 24-hour hotline help you out of stressful situations, but you will be able file claims when you return home to reimburse you for any extra money you weren’t expecting to spend. This could be for emergency medical bills, extra hotel stays due to travel delays or cancellations or even help returning home to end your trip early.
5. Get appropriate vaccinations.
While not every traveler will need new vaccinations before they travel, some will. It’s important that you understand the risks and the vaccinations needed prior to traveling. It could not only save you from a rare illness, but it could keep you from spreading the illness to your home country when you return. In some cases, you will need to show proof from a physician that you have been administered the vaccine in order to obtain a travel visa.
6. Don’t give to beggars or the homeless. Be wary of street vendors.
While we applaud you for your generosity, it’s dangerous on so many levels. It opens you up to being mugged, because you have removed your wallet from a protective spot in public. It also allows the homeless person to see how much cash you are actually carrying. It is not uncommon for the homeless or a street vendor to see the money still in your wallet and beg for more. Sometimes it can get aggressive. Your best bet – just say no politely and move on.
7. Research local laws and customs.
We travel to experience the unknown and make memories that last a lifetime. By doing research on your travel destination, you can avoid leaving your trip with embarrassments or pending charges. Don’t get caught in a social faux paux or, worse, jail. Less serious, but still dangerous, if you are driving in a different state or country, make yourself a little familiar with the rules of the road.
8. Enroll in STEP – Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
STEP is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Why is this important? If while you are traveling there is a natural disaster or a civil or political concern that could endanger you, the U.S. government will know where you are. The program will send you travel warnings and alerts to keep you informed with situations in your destination. This can keep you one step ahead of any dangerous situation to get you home safely.