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Safety Tips For Travelers

safety tips for travelers
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The Ultimate Travel Safety List

Informed by my experiences traveling the world, I’ve developed one of the most exhaustive and thorough lists of safety tips.

Visiting many notoriously dangerous cities, these safety strategies have largely kept me out of trouble and definitely helped me navigate some sticky situations.

safety tips for travelers

While many of the ways we stay safe as travelers are pretty obvious, I bet you probably haven’t considered some of these!

Components Of Travel Safety

Physical safety isn’t the only priority. Modern travelers have to protect their belongings, health, personal data and financial information. They also have to conduct themselves appropriately according to the local culture.

I’ll share all these tips by category below. below are organized by category. After some general tips, I’ll cover more topics like situational awareness, protecting your possessions, ATM safety, fraud protection, and more.

general travel safety

General Safety Tips For Travelers

Let’s first cover some basics.

Take Photos Of Important Documents

Digital copies of important documents could come in handy in the event you lose them. Take photos of your passport, government ID, insurance information and a credit card.

Securely store these images in your mobile device and keep them accessible. I use the OneNote app to store mine in a password-protected folder.

Ask Locals About Safety

Who better to trust with local safety information than actual residents? Ask your hotel concierge, Airbnb host or even taxi drivers (they’re especially honest) about local safety once you arrive. Get more than one opinion for a better understanding.

Ask The Right Questions

Have a safety-related worry? Be direct in how you ask for information. Vague questions get vague answers.

For example, if you’re worried about dangerous neighborhoods, don’t just ask if the city is safe. Instead, ask “where are the dangerous areas?”

sending location to friends

Check In With Friends

Routinely check in with friends or family. If you’re going out to a big party or on a remote hiking trip, give someone your estimated return time. Or at least send them a message when you’ve safely returned.

Spend More On Things That Affect Safety

When traveling Montenegro, I arrived to Podgorica in the middle of the night. As a city with questionable safety, taking a taxi across town wasn’t the most comfortable experience. Booking the more expensive bus that arrived at a reasonable hour definitely would have been better.

Allow yourself to spend more when it comes to safety. Whether it’s utilizing private cars instead of public transport or choosing flights that arrive during the day, the marginal extra cost is worth your comfort and safety.

Stay Connected With A Backup Charger

Have you ever run out of phone battery while doing something important? Now imagine that same feeling, except you’re trying to find directions in a foreign city.

Worrying about charging your devices is stressful. Always carry a backup battery in your day bag so you can stay safely connected.

Stay Aware Of Surroundings

If you’re oblivious to things around you, there’s a better chance of being targeted for a crime. While there’s no need to be overly cautious, it’s best to stay skeptical of others and stay on the defense.

researching important travel destination safety information

Destination Awareness Travel Safety Tips

Learning relevant destination facts and identifying local information before your trip is essential. Planning ahead will help you feel comfortable.

Write Down Important Phone Numbers

Have you ever thought about needing to call the police or an ambulance in a foreign country? Luckily most of us haven’t needed to, but we should still write down destination country emergency numbers as well as the number to the local embassy.

Identify Dangerous Areas

There are dangerous cities in many of the world’s cities. Do some research to find out if you should avoid passing through any areas. Numbeo provides a useful list of crime indices by world city.

personal travel safety tips

Have A Backup Plan

Life is never certain. Keep updated on any political unrest that may interfere with travel plans. After that, figure out what you would do if a negative situation came about suddenly.

Check Travel Advisories

Scan your government’s warnings, restrictions and travel safety advice for your destination.

Personal Belongings Safety Tips For Travelers

Follow these suggestions to keep your stuff out of the hands of thieves, and to prepare for situations where you lose something while traveling.

Store Possessions Securely

There are a bunch of ways you can safeguard your possessions while traveling. First begin with your luggage. Buy luggage with built-in locks to prevent anyone from opening them during transport.

If you don’t have locking luggage and are wary of trusting an airline, you can always wrap your bags in plastic at the airport. Once you make it to your hotel, make use of available safe boxes as necessary.

Keep A Look Out

We all stop to take photos in awesome places or get distracted by a conversation. Make the effort to keep all your stuff in sight if you set it down for any reason.

Wear Anti-Theft Clothing & Accessories

Have you ever had the feeling that someone was tugging on your backpack? How about a memory of something slipping out of your pocket in an Uber? You can protect yourself against theft, losing things and give yourself peace of mind with some super cool products.

With an anti-theft backpack, you’ll be fearless to wander through busy crowds. Shorts with zipper pockets can be quite useful. I’ve dropped so many things while walking around from consistently pulling my phone out of my pocket.

When going out to bars, I recommend an anti-theft crossbody bag. At large nightclubs, I always wear my Flip Belt, which keeps everything tightly secure.

Don’t Leave Your ID Behind

Bringing a passport out to bars and clubs to prove your age is never a comfortable situation. Some cities like Mexico City notoriously check ID cards.

Proactively Protect Belongings

Wrap bag straps around your legs when sleeping in transit or sitting in any area where you might be vulnerable. Only bring necessary valuables.

Bring An Old Mobile Phone As A Backup

Sometimes our mobile devices break or we might lose them. Especially for longer journeys, pack an old phone as a backup device.

Pack A Combination Lock

Backpackers will definitely benefit from this travel safety tip. Most traditional hostels don’t have built-in or electronic locks. They often charge extra to rent locks and require a deposit. 

Save yourself the hassle and cash by investing in a strong combination lock.

prevent fraud while traveling

Fraud Prevention Tips While Traveling

Keep your personal and financial world secure just like your physical possessions with these fraud prevention strategies.

Enroll In Purchase & Withdrawal Alerts

With alerts for large transactions from your bank, you can keep informed about purchases. Any questionable charges can be easily identified.

Identify Travel Scams By Researching Them

Stick to reputable companies when possible. Run a quick google search on any suspicious companies or booking engines. Including the keywords “scam” plus a forum name like “Reddit” will likely uncover any issues.

Use A VPN On Public Wi-Fi Networks

Browsing unsecure networks is risky. Plus, data theft and interception of personal information is increasingly common. Using a virtual private network like NordVPN can keep you safe from data thieves. 

Use A Phone Password

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t use a phone password these days. But, if you don’t use one, go make one now!

situational travel safety in groups

Situational Safety Tips For Travelers

This category of safety tips will help you navigate different situations along your journey. Familiarize yourself with these protective measures and situations to avoid.

Don’t Share Your Hotel Name

Whether it’s someone on the street or your taxi driver, don’t mention the name of your hotel if you perceive any personal threat. If the taxi is going to your hotel, you can give them the nearest intersection as a drop-off point.

Don’t Engage Beggars

While our emotions may compel us to respond to beggars, engaging with them can be dangerous. They could become violent, follow you or threaten you. It’s best to leave public outreach to the local services and pass them by with a “sorry” at most.

Travel In Groups

There is always safety in numbers, especially in desolate areas. Stick with your friends. If you’re traveling solo, stay in sight of others whenever possible.

group of gay travelers

Avoid Talking With Strangers In Bad Areas

Be careful when interacting with strangers in unfamiliar areas. In large tourist locations, schemes to distract and pickpocket are common. If you engage in conversation, stay spatially aware.

Look Confident/Unamused

Nothing radiates confidence more than someone who looks like they know exactly where they’re going.

Take this one step further by looking unamused, like you can’t be bothered. Put on your determined face as if you’ve walked that path hundreds of times before! This works like a charm.

Don’t Let People See You Drunk

Had a little too much to drink? Try not to be too obvious about it. Of course, call for proper help if you need it. In most instances though, you’ll be safer by not letting on that you’re tipsy.

No Flashy Jewelry

You’ve definitely heard this one already. Avoid being a target of theft. Don’t wear any elaborate clothing or jewelry to the extent necessary.

cultural awareness travel safety

Cultural Awareness Travel Tips

The most responsible of travelers do some cultural research before a journey. Especially in Middle Eastern destinations, these are some of my most important safety tips for travelers.

Blend In With Locals

Following local customs will make your travels much easier. Not only is blending in with locals fun, but you won’t stick out like a sore thumb!

Follow Local Dress Codes

Remember that in various parts of the world, it’s crucial for your safety to follow mandatory dress codes. Women may be required to cover their shoulders, knees or hair. For men, I recommend avoiding potentially offensive graphics on t-shirts.

Avoid Accidental Insults

Study cultural mannerisms and identify actions or body language that may be considered inappropriate or offensive in your destination. For example, showing the soles of your shoes is offensive in much of the Arab world.

atm machine safety

Money & ATM Safety Tips For Travelers

Losing your wallet or being robbed abroad can leave you feeling frustrated, helpless and definitely scared. Safeguard your money and reduce risk of theft with these money safety tips.

Don’t Accept Help At ATMs

Scammers often attempt to rob unsuspecting travelers by offering to help them at ATM machines. We’ve all had issues trying to withdraw money from foreign bank ATM’s and thieves know which ones often give us trouble.

Don’t Make ATM Withdrawals Obvious

Actions like walking away from an ATM while counting cash is asking for trouble.

Count Your Change

Especially in countries where currency conversions are confusing, make a habit out of counting change after cash transactions. Don’t get duped!

Avoid Carrying Large Amounts Of Cash

Only keep the money you’ll need handy. Stash the rest in your luggage or somewhere other than your wallet or purse.

Keep A Backup Debit Card

Store a backup debit card in your luggage in case of theft or loss. A card from a separate banking institution may also be helpful.

Carry An “Essentials Only” Wallet To Bars And Clubs

Never bring your entire wallet’s contents out to a bar or club. Losing all those important cards can be pretty devastating.

For a typical night out, bring along a minimalist wallet that will hold just the cards and cash you need, like this one from Herschel.

food and water safety tips for travelers

Food & Water Safety Tips For Travelers

The funny thing about food poisoning is that you never think about it until it’s too late. Preventing food-related sickness while traveling is easy. The harder part is staying consistent.

You won’t want to skip these crucial food & water safety tips for travelers, especially if you’re heading to a region of the world where foreigners notoriously get food poisoning.

Only Drink Bottled Water

Drinking water from the tap in some foreign countries is fine, while doing so in others can get you really sick. It’s always best to play it safe and stick with bottled beverages. In a pinch, you can always boil tap water before drinking.

Don’t Eat Street Food

I can attest…Delhi belly is real. Street food in many places tends to be fine, but in the cities where you’ve heard rumors, it’s best to stay away.

Ensure Vegetables Washed With Clean Water

If your food hasn’t been freshly cooked, it’s best to make sure there are no harmful bacteria on the surface. Rise with some bottled water.

Keep Medications Handy

I always travel with over the counter medications like Immodium and Pepto for common digestive issues. 

For travel to some countries, doctors will prescribe antibiotics ahead of time, used to treat stomach issues related to food bacteria.

Eat Foods You Can Peel

Peeling off a food’s exterior means you don’t need to worry about washing off surface bacteria. 

Sanitize Hands Often

Your food might be clean, but dirty hands just as easily contribute to illness. Carry some travel-size hand sanitizer just in case there’s nowhere to wash up.
medical travel safety

Health & Medical Safety Tips For Travelers

Getting sick or injured abroad can be a huge bummer. Prepare for the unknowns that travel brings with these medical safety tips.

Pack Travel-Size Medical Supplies

Many times, I’ve needed pain-relievers, antibiotic ointment, strong-adhering bandages, gauze and small scissors to cut it with. Not having these items might make for a painful trip to the pharmacy.

Don’t Put Yourself In Danger

Sacrificing safety for good photos isn’t worth it. Danger comes in many forms, too. I was once chased by a furious monkey in Koh Phi Phi who would have bit me if I hadn’t jumped into the ocean!

Listen To Your Body

Travelers want to get the most out of their holidays, myself included. It’s unwise do so at the expense of your own health though. If you feel ill, don’t force yourself to continue on with plans. Allow yourself some recovery time.

Check Your Immunizations

Traveling to disease-prone areas? Consult your doctor to make sure you don’t need additional shots or preventative medication. Travelers often take anti-malaria medications when visiting some world regions.

Wear A Helmet

More than half the world’s countries don’t have comprehensive motorcycle helmet laws. While it might be tempting to ride a motorbike with the wind in your hair, you’re better safe than sorry.

Consider Travel Insurance

I bet you’ve heard this one before! Travel insurance plans come in many different package types. Many are pretty affordable, too. Travelex has tiers of travel coverage starting at about USD $20. Not a bad idea for some peace of mind if you ask me.

travel safety tips for women

Travel Safety Tips For Women

Last but not least, a few more tips that address common safety issues women face while traveling.

Avoid Crowded Public Transit

While transit might be your first option (especially in expensive cities), avoiding it could prevent unfortunate interactions like assault or theft.

If you do choose public transit, keep your wits about you. Avoid desolate as well as overcrowded areas. Traveltipz has more public transit safety tips for female travelers.

Don’t Hang Your Purse On The Backs Of Chairs

This is one of the easiest ways to have your valuables swiped. When sitting at a restaurant, keep your bag or clutch somewhere within sight or where you can feel it.

To be extra careful, consider attaching the bag strap to a belt loop with one of these double-clasp handbag chains.

Avoid Low Visibility Areas

While this applies to everyone, it bears repeating. Keep clear of dark alleys or low-lighting areas, especially when out enjoying nightlife.

Use Reputable Rideshare Companies

Choosing Uber as opposed to the local taxi application where possible can be safe. Companies like Uber have various tools available to safeguard passengers, like in-app emergency dial functionality that shares trip details with local authorities.

strategies to protect yourself in dangerous situations

If You Feel You Are In Danger

For anything life-threatening or other imminent danger, you should call the appropriate authorities. Otherwise, in less drastic situations where you feel threatened, utilize these strategies to stay safe.

Look Over Your Shoulder

This is something I do even when I’m in my home city of New York. If my gut ever tells me I might be vulnerable, I’ll look over my shoulder to check my surroundings multiple times. 

Cross To The Other Side Of The Street

If you feel that someone might be following you, then switch to the other side of the street. I did this a couple of times while walking through Guadalajara at night. 

Take Shelter Inside An Establishment

If you sense danger, stopping inside a well-lit store or restaurant can help you relax, reset and avoid any imminent danger. If you need help, let someone inside know.

Request An Uber

An easy way to quickly flee is to request a ride from a reputable taxi application. Strategically request a pickup location a bit ahead of you so you can continue walking. 

safe international travel

Utilize Appropriate Travel Safety Tips

Most importantly, you must pick and choose which of these travel safety tips are appropriate to follow based on your destination. While it’s good to be familiar with them all, following every single one in a safe location is probably overdoing it.

Pick and choose which strategies you plan on implementing or remaining aware of during your journey. Assess the overall risk, prepare yourself and plan for an enjoyable trip.

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