Travel safety is something that will come more easily and naturally to you the longer you travel for. At first it can be daunting to travel, and unfamiliar places bring with them a feeling of danger. In reality, there are very few places on this planet where you are bound to get hurt, and as long as you equip yourself with common sense then you will most likely have a very positive experience and hardly ever find yourself in trouble.
Having said that, there are certain things that all travelers should consider and be aware of. Some countries are more dangerous than others, so destination-specific travel safety applies to certain destinations. There are, however, a few international hints and tips that we can give you, ensuring that you have nothing but a wonderful and memorable time on your next travel adventure.
Choosing a Hotel
When you’re searching for the right hotel to stay in on your travels, safety is always something you should take a look into. Most hotel booking websites should have feedback sections or reviews for you to take a look at, and safety should be a category that is taken into account. Failing that, Google the hotel you’re considering and websites such as TripAdvisor will have customer reviews. If the hotel is unsafe, these sections or websites are where most people would go to first to shout about it, in an attempt to warn other travelers.
It might also be worth researching the neighborhoods in a city to see where the safest places in a city or destination are to stay, and the places you should absolutely avoid. If you’re staying at a hotel in a nice neighborhood, the chances of something going wrong are far smaller.
A combination of finding a hotel that has facilities to keep your valuables safe, as well as being located in a safe neighborhood where returning to your hotel at night won’t be a problem, is a key element to travel safety, and the first steps you can take to staying safe before even arriving in your destination.
If you’re staying in a hotel, your valuables tend to be very safe as they are behind a locked door at all times when you leave them in your accommodation. It is very unlikely that someone would break into a hotel, or that you’d have housekeeping staff with thieving tendencies. If you want to keep your things in your room and be extra careful, consider padlocking your valuables into your bag, or at least tucking them away somewhere inconspicuous. If all else fails, pick a hotel that has an in-room safe to store your valuables.
When you are out and about, always make sure you keep an eye on your personal belongings, never leave anything lying around unattended, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Gentlemen, keep everything in your front pockets and be aware of the wandering hands of pick-pocketers. Ladies, leaving your handbag open is just an invitation to a thief to dip their hand in and take whatever they can find; keep your bag zipped up and tuck under your arm or carry a bag that you can carry across you.
Never take anything that you don’t absolutely need out with you. That way, if something does get stolen then it will be far less of a loss for you.
This section is very specific to the country you’re heading to, as almost everywhere has its own set of rules, but there are a few tips that work universally. First of all, when you arrive in a destination ask the hotel staff or a local if there are any neighborhoods that you should definitely avoid. Most cities have one or too sketchy districts that can be a bit more dangerous, and most of the time there wouldn’t be any reason to go and visit them anyway.
Also, ask your hotel staff how safe a place is to explore at night, and if they have any tips that will help you stay safe. If you’re traveling in a couple, the chances are that nothing is going to happen to you personally. Very few people get into personal or physical danger when they travel, and most of the time the worst anyone runs into is going to be a pick-pocketer.
Use you common sense and judgement when it comes to your personal safety – avoid dark streets, places where you find yourselves isolated and vulnerable, and have your guard up to a certain extent when it comes to trusting people.
Most of the advice given above for valuables should be stressed even more when it comes to public transport. Buses, trains, trams, etc. are classic hotspots for theft, especially if you’re on a crowded vehicle and squashed up against other people. If you have a bag with you, always make sure you move your bag round to sit on your front, or keep it in a place where you can put your arm over it.
Be aware of the people around you. If you see anyone who’s looking around at people’s bags, they might be trying to suss out which one is an easy target. If you look like you’re off in the land of the fairies and not paying attention, a thief might consider you easy to steal from. Stay in the moment and just be conscious of things going on around you.
Night buses or trains are very common all over the world, and they are very safe in most places. There are ways that you can avoid them if you really don’t want to take any, but I would suggest doing some light research into the safety of night transport in your specific destination. Sometimes you can find reasonably priced tickets for a sleeper car, which will not only be safe but perfectly comfortable. If you pay a little more for night transport, the chances are the safety will be higher as well.
The golden rule with taxis that applies anywhere in the world is never take an unmarked or unregistered cab. Most cities have fairly obvious colorings to their official cabs, so it’s always good to take note of that when you arrive.
Asking your hotel or a restaurant you’re in to call you a taxi is probably the safest way to go about it, and then you know that you have a vehicle from a registered company. Flagging taxis down on the street is normally perfectly fine, just take a peek inside before you get in to make sure it looks legitimate.
To be on the safe side, never share a cab with a stranger. You never really can tell what someone’s intentions are, and although many travelers do split cabs with people they don’t know too well, if you want to be as safe as possible then just avoid this entirely.
Lastly, the best way to make sure that you have a backup if anything does go wrong is to make sure you have insurance for your travels. The single most important thing is that you keep yourself safe, and if anything else goes wrong such as loss of valuables, it really doesn’t matter and insurance will help you replace anything that went missing.
Keeping yourself safe abroad isn’t a difficult thing to do, and the best things you can equip yourself with are common sense and good judgement. The more you travel the more these things come naturally to and you know what to look out for, which will give you more time to focus on the fun part of travel!
What are your Travel Safety Tips?