How to stay safe while traveling

Jean Claude Reuille01-Aug-2020

Travel has always been an enriching and eye-opening experience. There is a thrill involved in traveling as we get to explore new places and continents across the globe. When one thinks of travel, we tend to plan in advance what all we need for our journey in terms of money and travel documents. We research based on the destination we have shortlisted as to what all travel documents are required like do they have visa on arrival or it has to be arranged before traveling, currency, do’s and don’ts for the tourists and any other relevant information shared by the people who have already experienced the place.

The travel to an unknown place must be so exciting for all. One wants to end up with good memories on return. As you travel you should go safe, move safely, leave safe and return home safely. We definitely suggest to travel with all your heart but you should not forget the travel safety considerations at the same time. Security is of the utmost importance when you explore the unknown. If taken care of small things during travel, then you will end up having just good memories. 

As we all know how every country is affected by the ongoing pandemic, so if you wish to travel during this time then try to stay safe as much as possible. Keeping in mind the current situation, staying at home is the best option to fight against the COVID diseases. We suggest not to travel if you feel sick. We all are aware of the WHO guidelines but still keep some points in mind while traveling like wear a mask in public places to cover your nose and mouth, stay at a distance of 6 feet from others (members not from your household), wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and you can also use alcohol-based sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60%, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Prefer contactless check-ins at hotels and opt for contactless payments through UPI or digital wallets. 

Try to travel with your own food and if that is not possible, then after touching the meal plates or meal boxes, wash your hands or sanitize. Before traveling, check the travel restrictions. Once the world overcomes this pandemic, exploring will go on. 

There are multiple things to be taken care of to ensure safety while traveling. Here we go with some helpful and useful travel tips that could make your journey unforgettable for the right reasons:

  • Research
    While planning a vacation or leisure trip, research about the destination you are about to visit. Traveler reviews are usually helpful. You can also consult locals for information if you have someone known residing there. This will help you to know what the destination has in store for you. If you research in detail, then you have access to information like activities, places of sightseeing and important information for tourists. This will help while packing bags and also makes your mind clear as to how you would like to schedule your travel. Research to become a smart traveler. 

  • Make copies of important travel documents
    It is an essential tip while traveling. If you lose the document, then at least you have a copy to prove your identity wherever required. So we advise that you keep the document in one bag and keep the photocopy in another bag. So even if the bag containing the document is snatched, you can use the photocopy. Sometimes you also need a copy of your passport, driver’s license, or another form of identification. We suggest you save them online and print multiple copies and keep them in separate bags. Digital copies are the best way of saving yourself from any trouble.

  • Beware of public Wi-Fi
    Do not let yourself be lured by free Wi-Fi access at public places. When you use it, your valuable information may get stolen by hackers like credit card details or any other data of significance like bank details. If you need internet access at all, then you can set up a virtual private network (VPN) that will allow using the internet securely. Alternatively, you can also get a portable router to set up your own Wi-Fi hotspot. You may require a local SIM card that you can purchase at any electronic store/airport kiosk.

  • Transportation Companies
    Before you arrive at your destination, research the registered and reputed cab companies and use only those. If you are sharing your ride with someone through an app like Uber, reconfirm the vehicle information before boarding the cab and driver details shared on the app.

  • Be alert to your surroundings
    Always try to pay attention to what is going on around you, be it is a crowded place or a deserted lane. Thieves always observe people and if they find someone distracted enough, they target them and could extract money and valuables. This is a very important tip for women who travels solo. Always keep an eye on your personal belongings.

  • Apps for Emergency Alerts
    Download apps that provide safe travel information. Apps like Sitata and Smart Traveler are quite useful. Sitata helps you with tips, latest scams, locate nearby hospitals, alerts the user in case of potential danger. Smart Traveler is the official app of U.S. State Department for travelers. You can get access to the US embassies’ locations and will receive notifications for travel advisories. Other countries may have similar apps so you may browse to download one.

  • Interact with Locals 
    Striking a conversation with locals always prove to be helpful. After checking in at a hotel, you may take recommendations of the places that are safe to explore and what to avoid from your itinerary. They can also guide you on do’s and don’ts of a country or place.

  • Withdraw at banks
    ATMs are sometimes manipulated so the moment you insert your card, the data gets copied and that you can’t notice. Try to withdraw money only inside banks during opening hours. The ATMs are skimmed usually during off-peak hours.

  • Use travel locks
    Carry your own lock that can secure your bag to the seat while you are dining or in transit. It is more advisable when you stay in a hostel. It will keep your bags and valuables safe from theft.

  • Carry the right bag
    Try to carry a cross-body bag as they are safer than hand bags/shoulder bags. It prevents people from grabbing your bags. Invest in good bags with slash-proof straps, RFID blockers and locking zippers.

  • Keep the emergency numbers handy
    Save the emergency numbers of your destination like bank, doctor, insurance and the phone number to block your cards. In case you lose your card, you can call the bank immediately to block your card. You can write them separately on a notepad that you always carry so that even if your phone is switched off, you can get access to the numbers.

  • Use money smartly
    Never carry lots of cash while traveling. Avoid keeping all of your money in one place. Keep your credit cards and cash in 2-3 different places so that even if your cash gets stolen, you have an option and not left empty-handed.

  • Avoid wearing flashy jewellery
    If you travel in crowded areas, restrict yourself from wearing expensive or flashy jewellery as you may make yourself a target for robbery.

  • Make your hotel room safe
    Never let any strangers enter your room if not called for. You can check the same by calling the front desk if they have requested some hotel staff to go to your room. Hang Do Not Disturb sign on the door and try to keep the blinds/windows closed. Safeguard your room by locking and dead-bolting the door. 

  • Update your friends and family 
    You should always try to keep your close friends and family informed about where you are heading. Contact them while you are traveling so that they know where you are and can help you if needed. You can email your itinerary to them.

  • Research about travel scams
    Wherever you head to in the world, you will find people tricking you to extract your hard-earned money. So google to do in-depth research of the common scams that took place at your destination. For Example-Broken taxi meters in Costa Rica or the milk scam in Cuba. They can range from RFID scanners to deploy children to cheat you. Learn and be ahead of time.

  •  Browse through the State Department Website
    On the State Department’s website, you can gain access to the current threats and travel warnings. You can get to know which areas to avoid while traveling.

  • Lock up your Valuables 
    Carry the documents only if they are required. If your passport is not required at a certain place, then keep it locked in the hotel safe. So you can call the hotel or check on their website prior to making a reservation.

  • Travel Insurance
    There are a lot of uncertainties while traveling. In case of unforeseen situations, it can help you to cover the loss and also makes you safe against travel-related emergencies.

  •  Avoid sharing too much with strangers 
    We recommend not to share your travel plans or accommodation details with strangers.

  • Pay attention to clothing
    If you dress inappropriately, it may draw scammers and thieves towards you. If you look less like a visitor then, less attention will go towards you.

  • Food and Water
    Eat at popular places and fully cooked food can be considered the safest. Have fruits that are peel-able to avoid bacteria. A lot of people fall sick due to food poisoning so be careful about where you are having food from. If having street food, then observe how is the food getting prepared. We suggest carrying a filtered water bottle at most of the places.

  • Back Pocket Usage: A complete no
    Never keep anything in your back pocket. It is a lot harder to steal from the front pockets so we advise to use them instead. You can also purchase a money belt and use them as an alternative.

  • Travel in a group
    Traveling in a group may ward off the thieves or problem creators. In a foreign country, try making new friends if you are traveling solo. But do not leave your baggage with someone you just met no matter how kind and friendly they seem.

  • First Aid Kit
    This is essential to be packed while you prepare to pack your baggage. You never know when this may come to your rescue so carry medicines for cold/fever/headache/stomach ache/indigestion, Band-Aids for cuts, ointment/spray for a sprain, or antiseptic to treat wounds.

  • Password protect your phone
    Set up a password to lock and protect your phone from sensitive information. Create a strong and unique one and advise to change it regularly. Install a wiping software so that if your phone is stolen, you destroy the data. Enable location tracking so that you can track down your phone if stolen. 

  • Avoid being drunk
    Partying is surely fun but getting drunk in a foreign country can invite problems. Drink in limit so that you can stay away from criminals and problems.

  • Don’t show your valuables around
    Carry expensive things in a daypack like a camera, power bank, etc. and take out when needed.

Travel is an adventure so do not let anyone ruin your adventure. We understand that risk is usually unavoidable but we tried to offer some tips that could help you lessen the risk factor. Sometimes the negative experiences spoil your travel and you don’t remember the good moments that you have lived. We hope the travel safety tips will now make you alarmed.  So now be armed with the travel tips on safety and traverse the world! Roam around freely but cautiously. Have a safe journey!

Bon Voyage! 

Written by "Jean Claude Reuille" on 01-Aug-2020

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