Safety Advice for International Trips
Few things are more exciting than traveling internationally. When going abroad, you experience all the beautiful cultures that make up our world. Many people are wary of international travel, fearing that it is dangerous. For the most part, traveling throughout the world is very safe. This being said, there are safety precautions that every traveler should employ to ensure that their trip remains a joyous one. Here are 12 top safety tips for international travel.
- Get a Checkup and the Appropriate Vaccines: Always have a physical before your trip to ensure that you are healthy enough to travel abroad, and make sure that you understand the health concerns of the country you are planning to visit. Numerous worldwide travel destinations require vaccinations before your arrival, so make sure that you know the immunizations you need and that you are immunized before your trip.
- Make Electronic Copies of Your Documents: You’ll be carrying the necessary documentation with you when traveling abroad. Create an electronic backup of your immunization record, itinerary, medical insurance card, passport, plane tickets, travel insurance, and visas before you leave. Email the file to yourself and keep it in your inbox so you can access the information from your smartphone should the paperwork be lost or damaged.
- Don’t Carry Everything Together: It might be tempting to keep your cash, credit cards, identification, and traveler’s checks in your wallet, but don’t do it. Keep any money, credit cards, IDs, and checks you won’t be using locked in your hotel room safe. Separate the monetary and identifying items you must carry on you and carry them in different spots on your person. This safety tip prevents you from losing everything should somebody steal your wallet.
- Don’t Carry Things in Your Back Pocket: Speaking of theft, pickpocketing is common in specific areas around the world, and yes, pickpockets have been known to target tourists. Do not keep anything in your back pocket, including your wallet, a small purse, your hotel room keys… anything! Doing so opens you up to becoming an easy target for the swift hand of a pickpocket.
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Ways to Stay Safe When Traveling Abroad
- Keep Items to Your Front: Another thing you might be tempted to do is hang your purse on the back of your chair on a sidewalk or set your bags down at your feet. This isn’t a good idea, either, because your attention will be attracted to the new sights around you. Keep your bags in your lap or at the front of your feet under the table, with the straps wrapped around your leg.
- Look Back When Leaving: The previous tip often helps prevent leaving things behind; after all, if you have your purse strap wrapped around your leg, you’ll trip over it if you don’t remove it. People do, however, leave personal items behind all the time when they’re ready to move on to their next destination. Look back at where you were sitting as you’re leaving to make sure you didn’t forget your purse, shopping bags, or anything else of importance.
- Leave the “Bling” at Home: It might be tempting to wear your favorite jewelry throughout your trip or take pictures with that new, costly camera, but in the interest of your safety, don’t. If you tour your international destination dressed to the nines and wearing expensive jewelry, you are announcing to potential thieves that you are a worthy mugging target. Keep it simple and appropriate for the place you are visiting, and hide your camera in a case when you aren’t using it.
- Don’t Talk to Strangers: Of course, you’ll be talking to the people of the land you are visiting – that’s the best part of traveling, meeting new people! Don’t get carried away, however, and begin to trust strangers with your life story or personal information. Think about what you say to your children and stick to your advice. Don’t talk to strangers who don’t look trustworthy, do not accept food or drink from them, and do not go somewhere with them unless they are your licensed tour guide and you’re on your booked tour.
- Don’t Solicit Panhandlers: Many nations have areas that suffer from poverty just as we do here in the U.S. It is crucial not to traverse these areas without the proper guides. It is even more important not to give beggars cash or any of your belongings. Of course, you want to help them out, but if you are genuinely interested in finding ways to aid the poverty-stricken in the land you are visiting, research local charities and donate that way.
- Don’t Try to Be a Hero: The flip side of the previous tip is don’t try to be a hero if you, unfortunately, become the victim of a mugging. Rather than attempt to fight the perpetrator, give your belongings up. Cash, credit cards, identification, and traveler’s checks are not worth injury or death. Give the items up quickly, and once you’re out of danger, proceed to the nearest U.S. Consulate or appropriate authority to report the incident.
- Avoid Using Your Credit Card at Internet Cafes: With the advent of the Internet, criminals have found a new way to commit identity theft. Internet cafes are trendy among travelers. They are a quick and easy way to grab a cup of coffee while emailing the latest details of your adventure to your family and friends. Criminals keep a wary eye and use key logger software on the computers in Internet cafes to obtain your credit card information, so pay for the computer use with cash.
- Be Properly Insured: Many people think they do not need travel insurance, and nothing could be further from the truth. Your health insurance might offer you some international coverage. Still, the chances are good that it doesn’t fully cover potential illness, injury, or even death when you are on foreign soil. Your belongings must also be insured for the simple reason that anything might happen to them. Make sure that you, your fellow travelers, and everything you are taking on the trip is properly insured before leaving. If you are traveling for work, check with HR to see if they have a business travel insurance plan for employees.
Terrorism We have created a couple of relevant articles to help you plan your trip: Terrorism and Travel Abroad and Tips and Advice: When Terror Happens on your International Trip to help you prepare for and stay safe in a terrorist attack.
I sincerely hope this list of travel safety tips doesn’t discourage you from traveling abroad. Instead, I hope this list encourages you. Traveling worldwide is one of the most rewarding experiences; it doesn’t have to be dangerous. If you employ precautionary measures before and during your trip, you will have a wonderful and unforgettable time on your international vacation.
Don’t forget your International Insurance!
- Trip Insurance | Free Quote / Apply
- Travel Health Insurance | Free Quote / Apply
- International Health Insurance | Free Quote / Apply
Related: If you travel frequently, consider an Annual Travel Insurance Plan
Also, read the following:
- Visitors Coverage
- Overseas Travel Insurance
- Safety Tips for Women Traveling Abroad
- Safest Airlines – International or Domestic?
- Travel Warnings, Advisories, and Alerts
- Before you Go – Advice from US Dept. of State
Author: Joe Cronin, Founder and President of International Citizens Insurance. Mr. Cronin, a former expat, is an authority in the areas of international travel, and global health, life, and travel insurance, with expertise in advising individuals and groups on benefits for today's global workforce. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.