8 Tips To Help You Stay Safe While Travelling
Travelling the world can give you a lot of freedom. You get to choose where you go and when, not to mention that you also get to meet new people along the way.
If you want to make the most out of your travelling experience however, then you need to keep yourself safe and your belongings so you can enjoy your vacation as much as possible.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been in a tricky situation where things got a little dangerous or some of my travel gear went missing. Hopefully these tips will help you stay safe on your next adventure!
Take Care Of Important Travel Documents
The very first thing that you need to do is put all of your important documents in a safe place.
We all know that feeling of getting to an airport or hotel and feeling the panic set in as you struggle to find your passport, visa or booking confirmation.
A travel document organizer can be a fantastic choice here, it makes life so much easier when you need to quickly grab an important document and requires less backpack rummaging!
But, of course, do make sure that you choose a brand that is well-trusted. This will stop it from falling apart halfway through your trip, and it will also help you to feel protected when you are on the go.
Set Contact Details As Your Phone Wallpaper
This is one of the first things I do before catching my flight. I worry about losing my phone and this handy tip always reassures me that it might find its way back to me!
I write a note on my phone addressed to anyone who finds my lost phone to say “If you find this phone, please email me” and then I include my email address.
I always travel with my laptop so it’s easy to check my email but even if you don’t have a laptop, you can use a friend’s phone or an internet cafe to check your email for any news about your lost phone.
I once lost my phone at the beach on Gili Trawangan and a very kind stranger emailed me to say they had found it! I can’t tell you how glad I was that I planned in advance!
Prepare For Worst Case Scenarios
You may lose your wallet, you may wake up to find that your hostel flooded late at night or you may even split up with your partner. For this reason, you need to stay positive about any situation and you also need to plan for emergencies before you go.
It helps to have an emergency contact prepared, get vaccinations and travel insurance. It is also a good idea to brainstorm with the people who you are travelling with about the specific location you’re going to. This will help you to prepare and it will also help you to stay safe too.
Think about the worst case scenarios that could happen and just figure out what you would do in that situation. If it is losing your wallet, you can figure out a plan to hide some emergency money in a different bag or separate your bank cards so you don’t lose them all in one go.
If you are going hiking or on expeditions, consider getting the number for Air Evac International so that you can always contact emergency services if required.
Choose Taxis Wisely
Many otherwise great destinations have a problem with fake or dodgy taxi drivers who want to scam you out of money. These are people who pass themselves off as legitimate taxi drivers but often have a hidden agenda to rinse as much money out of you as possible.
In some scenarios they might conveniently forget to tell you about the expensive “toll charge” until you’re halfway through your journey. Others might put you on a meter that seemingly jumps up every 30 seconds. And in worse case scenarios, some unlicensed taxi drivers will decide to rob you and your possessions.
To combat this you should follow official guidance about which taxis to use or you can book transfers in advance to avoid these situations. Before I went to Thailand I did a quick Google search to find out about taxis and this helped me avoid the risky unlicensed taxis when I had arrived. There is more great info on booking Thai taxis here.
Be Wise To Scams
There are too many of these to mention and they happen almost anywhere you could think to travel. There are countries where scams are more common, such as India, North Africa or Eastern Europe but you should always be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true.
The list of common scams is too big to mention but they could include offering to take you on a free guided tour that mostly includes local shops or taxis taking you to different hostel because yours has “closed down”.
One of the worst I heard was a scam about helping locals to import gems to Europe. You wouldn’t believe how many people have fallen victim to this scam and lost thousands of dollars as a result!
Then of course there is the attractive lady scam…
I was once in Latvia with a friend and our hostel receptionist warned us a scam where an attractive lady shows appears very interested in you, only for her to invite you home where a group of muggers are waiting to relieve you of your wallet.
Even knowing about this scam did not stop my friend from almost falling for this trap. In a club he was seduced by a beautiful stranger and got invited back to an after party. He almost agreed to go but luckily, basic knowledge of these scams allowed us to step in and talk some common sense into him!
Expert Vagabond has a great page about common tourist scams and how to avoid them.
Padlock Your Luggage
Padlocking your luggage before your trip is super easy to do, and it will also give you an additional level of security. For those concerned about baggage handlers or suspicious taxi drivers, just the sight of a padlock warns off potential thieves.
It helps to use a combination lock where possible because this way, you don’t have to worry about keeping the key safe. As long as you know the combination, you won’t have any problems at all.
If you’re staying in hostels then it’s always useful to have a padlock for lockers. Sometimes locker keys are provided but not always. Make sure to bring one that isn’t too clunky so that it can fit through the locker loop holes.
Use A Body Wallet
There are many destinations where pickpockets operate, looking to slip their hand in your pocket and swiftly take your wallet. This is common all over the world, from Latin America to Barcelona.
A body wallet can be strapped to your chest underneath your t-shirt, meaning potential thieves can’t easily spot it and even if they did, it would be difficult to steal without you noticing!
Body wallets are inexpensive so it’s worth bringing one along with you even if you’re not sure you’ll need it. If you feel a little unsafe then at least you can wear it to make yourself feel a little more comfortable.
Read Online Reviews
Lastly, you have to do your research!
A quick Google of a hotel or excursion can often help you avoid a complete disaster.
This tip has helped me hundreds of times. For example, when contemplating whether to book a cheap boat over to a small island, I quickly Googled the company and found some of the worst reviews I’ve ever read!
Reviews reported of no life jackets, lost luggage and even flooding on the boat! These are all due to dodgy operators who want to cut costs and make a quick buck.
For an extra couple of dollars I am more than happy to book the safe option over the cheap, risky option. And why shouldn’t you? It’s your holiday!
Don’t let any of these tips put you off travelling though. 90% of the time you will have no problems whatsoever, but it’s always good to be alert!