20 Tips to Travel Safely

    20 Tips to Travel Safely
    “Inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The mall has three levels.” By Runner1928 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
    1. Network Check-Ins

      Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are, where you’re going. Your basic itinerary, essentially. Have regular check-ins with one or more people to make sure you made it somewhere, deviated from your plan, or just a confirmation, “No, I’m not dead, dying, or laying in a gutter wishing I was.”

    2. Purse

      Make sure your purse/bag has a cross-body shoulder strap and a zipper to deter pickpockets. Carry your bag in front of your body with a hand on top. For larger bags with any kind of expensive items/technology, consider using locks on the zippers.

    3. Copy Documents

      Keep hard copies of your itinerary, emergency contacts. Keep digital copies on cellphone/laptop/tablet. Have a copy of your passport and proof of insurance in every piece of luggage. Keep the passport and insurance copy under your clothes somewhere, not in a wallet or purse that can be stolen. *Note: You do not always have to carry your passport with you. Some countries require but not all. Check beforehand, because you can’t afford to lose that document. Most places will accept a proper copy as temporarily sufficient.

    4. Don’t Flaunt Solo Status

      Always be aware of what’s going on around you, but try not to appear lost. Utilize the Do Not Disturb signs in hotels (if you are staying in one) to prevent theft while on the town. Don’t mention being alone at hotel check-in, restaurants, to pedestrians, etc. Just never mention it. If you do get lost, don’t stop on the street to check your phone, go into a cafe or shop. This way no one can take advantage of your distraction.

    5. Budget Cushion

      In case you get into a situation you didn’t plan like walking at night or suspicious character in your Airbnb or hostel dorm room, the extra emergency cash will allow you to switch to a hotel, call a taxi, get a private room in a train car, etc. Also, if you get a rental car, use the money to keep the vehicle at half a tank or more to avoid getting stranded.

    6. Dress Local

      Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself with foreign clothing. In Middle East countries, wear a wedding ring and/or a head covering. For those of us with breasts, cover them up unless you’re on a beach or in America. Keeping it classy has never done anyone wrong, and it is very unlikely you’ll find a place that is offended by your lack of cleavage (Unless they are trying to get into your pants in which case, I leave that decision up to you.).

    7. Don’t Engage Catcallers

      Engaging them is welcoming them. Unless you want to welcome them, don’t look or speak to them, don’t even flip them off. Getting angry is pointless because these characters exist everywhere and nobody has the time and energy for that.

    8. Be Friendly with Fellow Travelers

      In hostel dorms, on tours, wherever you meet fellow travelers, make friends. Not only does this improve the travel experience, but it means that you have people to walk with in public and a smaller chance of thieving, attacks, etc. Also someone can be your DD!

    9. Say “No”

      There is very little in this world we have to do. If you don’t want to go party, drink, stay out late, travel to some far-off, middle-of-nowhere location, you do not have to. You can if you want to, but don’t ever let yourself be taken advantage of.

    10. Distribute Cash

      Don’t carry everything you have on you or in any single piece of luggage. In fact, it’s a great way to budget if you only carry the 20-30 Euros and emergency credit card for the casual stroll you planned for the day and left most of your cash under lock and key.

    11. Use Credit, Not Debit

      To follow up on the previous point, debit cards are way easier to steal from and have less built in security policies. Only bring your debit card for ATMs. Credit cards can also have the double benefit of earning miles or discounts at restaurants, etcetera.

    12. Backup Technology

      Have more than one copy of your files on all your technology. Don’t make any single device irreplaceable, because there is no guarantee it won’t be stolen or lost in transit or forgotten on that park bench and picked up by the nearest hobo. Consider an external hard drive, with a terabyte or two of memory.

    13. Map Literate

      Know how to read real, physical maps. Places in the world exist with no cellular reception, folks; it’s not just a myth. Batteries also die. Have a backup plan.

    14. Eyes on Your Junk

      If you aren’t touching that junk, your eyes better be focused on it. Looking away for 5-10 seconds is more than enough for your valuable items to be snatched and whisked into the crowd. DO NOT LOOK AWAY.

    15. Nightly Alone-ness is a No-No

      Have someone you trust with you at night, preferably more than one someone. Stay in populated areas where you can call for help. Try not to get drunk without a sober someone you trust to take you back to your accommodation. Nighttime is when shit gets real, and we want you to wake up in the morning…or afternoon if you’re nursing a hangover.

    16. Research the Area

      Find out where the sketchy places are in the town/city/destination you are traveling to and avoid those places. With exceptions for James Bond and Chuck Norris, you don’t want to test your mad skills out in another country…or anywhere. Be smart and safe!

    17. Don’t Check Your Phone in Transit

      Whether you’re walking down the street, on a public bus or train, don’t tuck your mind into your phone. If you do, you’re distracted and this makes you unaware of potential threats to your person and general welfare.

    18. Pack Nothing Irreplaceable

      Never bring something that you absolutely cannot replace. Grandma’s pearls, priceless coin collection, highly expensive technology that is not necessary for travel, all this can stay at home, cozy in their places, and checked on occasionally by the sweet little ol’ lady next door. Travel often comes in gritty, uncomfortable forms and with some unsavory characters, though this is the exception, not the rule. Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

    19. Consider LifeLock

      Lifelock is a security app meant to protect you against identity theft. It monitors your activity and picks up any suspicious actions like new accounts, major purchases, applying for stock accounts, and such. At any sign of such, you will be informed via text, email, or phone. If your identity or information is stolen, one of the features included in this app is an insurance policy of varying amounts depending on the monthly plan you choose.

    20. Trust the Gut

      If you get that sick, wary, I-don’t-like-this-at-all kind of feeling, no matter how unfounded you convince yourself it is, abide by it. Listen to it. Act on it. Because even if you’re wrong, you’re still safe. And there is always the chance that you are right. If someone gets offended, too damn bad. Your life is valuable and worth protecting.

    I hope this was helpful and that you keep these things in mind for your own sake. Safety is not trivial, and travel should not be dangerous as long as we exercise caution.


    (Featured Image)