Important Travel Safety Tips Everyone Should Know
When you’re travelling, it’s important to be prepared. It can sometimes be hard to know what you should be prepared for, but it’s important nonetheless. But, you can’t let yourself become so overwhelmed by safety and preparation that it takes away from your adventure.
Today, I’m going to be sharing some important travel safety tips everyone should know.
Choosing the Best Travel Safety Tips
When choosing these travel safety tips, I’ve focused on the ones I believe are most valuable. On many of my adventures, I’ve found that they’re the framework of a safe trip and can help with a variety of different situations.
In the future, I am going to be sharing travel safety tips that are more relevant to specific activities, including hiking and snowboarding. If you want to see something specific, please let me know over on Instagram.
1. Trust your gut.
Before I focus on any practical advice, I want to share the one piece of advice that has had the biggest positive impact on my years of solo travel. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or seems off, get yourself out of the situation that you’re in.
Our own instincts are often incredibly important and far too easy to ignore. Our intuition can help us to make decisions and keep ourselves safe. When we’re met with a new place, new people and new ways of life, it can be the easiest thing to recognise.
“I just know.” is as good of a reason as any for anything that you do. Some psychologists believe that our subconscious mind helps us to make decisions and sometimes, we really do just know. As hard as it might be to explain to other people, trusting yourself is key.
2. Research, research, research.
This tip was also included in my article on My Top Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important tips that I can share with all of you. Knowledge is power. Researching your destination can help you to prepare for it.
From a safety perspective, researching your destination can help you to avoid common scams and to understand the nuances of different cultures. What is completely acceptable where you’re from might not be acceptable where you’re going and vice versa.
3. Keep your belongings safe.
When travelling, we often keep many of our most important belongings with us. Our bank cards, identity documents and electronics are always with us or in our room. Learning how to keep them safe is important. Losing them (or them being stolen) can prove to be an incredibly stressful experience.
If your accommodation provider offers a safe, I would recommend using it for your valuables or locking them in your suitcase. Make sure that you have copies of your identity documents stored away from your identity documents and try to separate your valuables.
When walking around, keep your money close to you and be extra vigilant in areas known for pickpocketing. Tourists are unfortunately often distracted targets. While I’ve only experienced pickpocketing once, it was enough to teach me to keep an emergency card somewhere on my person.
4. Make sure that you have a copy of your identity documents.
I would always recommend having a photocopy of your identity documents, travel insurance documents and visa (if you have one). If anything does happen and your documents are lost or stolen, you’re going to have an easier time retrieving them or getting them replaced with copies.
A few years ago, I began uploading copies of my documents, travel plans and anything I felt was important to the cloud. I like to use either Google Docs or Dropbox so that I can access my documents from anywhere. If ever something happens, I know that either I or someone I trust (who I’ve already shared account access with) can gain access to them.
5. Share your travel plans with someone back home.
I’ve been travelling mostly solo for almost a decade now and this is something that I still do. When travelling, it’s worth sharing all of your amazing travel plans with someone back home. Their insight can be a key way for others to work out if something is wrong if a worst-case scenario happens and you don’t arrive at your accommodation.
I also like to keep my nearest and dearest in the loop with a daily text or photo. It’s a habit that can alert them to something being wrong. I don’t tend to recommend doing this with public social media posts. Unfortunately, sharing your location on social media can sometimes be dangerous. I would recommend delaying your posts so that they don’t match your current location.
6. Check your travel insurance policy.
We all know that it’s important to have travel insurance, but it’s also important to make sure that it’s the right type of travel insurance. Not all travel insurance companies are the same and some are better than others.
During the current pandemic, this is even more important as some don’t cover coronavirus-related medical needs at all. Given the very real risks associated with the virus, it’s worth double checking that your provider covers COVID-19.
I would always recommend choosing a travel insurance policy that covers both your medical expenses and emergency repatriation. Check the small print. A travel insurance policy that covers some activities might not cover incidents that occur while doing others. As a keen snowboarder, I have to sift through the finer details, ask questions regularly and make sure I’m covered.
7. Ask your accommodation provider for their recommendations.
When we travel, we lose a sense of familiarity. When we’re home, we often just know which areas are safe and which aren’t. We don’t have the benefit of that insight when we’re somewhere new.
Don’t be afraid to ask your accommodation provider, receptionist, concierge or anyone you find working around the local area for help. Many people working in hotels will be more than happy to help you and offer their insight.
I find that this helps the most with transportation, as your accommodation provider can point you in the direction of a reputable taxi company and give you an idea of what different journeys should cost. Depending on where you’re travelling, this can help you to avoid a plethora of different scams that target tourists.
8. Have an emergency plan.
Emergencies and the shape that they take can be impossible to predict. Before travelling anywhere, I like to make sure that I know the local emergency numbers and the number of my own embassy in the country I’m travelling to. These two aspects of an emergency plan can leave you covered in a lot of situations.
Different settings call for different plans. If you’re hiking, make sure that you have all of the necessary equipment and essentials with you. A map, compass, flashlight and first aid kit should always be tucked away in your backpack, along with other things.
It can also help to designate an emergency contact who can share your insurance information if you’re not able to, as well as your medical conditions and allergies. This should always be someone you trust fully with private information.
9. Be careful when withdrawing from ATMs.
Money really does make the world go around when you’re travelling so sometimes you have to make a withdrawal. There are two different things to consider when you need to withdraw money to pay for something.
The first is whether or not the ATM is safe to use. Some ATMs can be tampered with and aren’t really secure. The second is whether or not anyone is watching the ATM to see who is withdrawing money and if someone is struggling to withdraw money. Unfortunately, travellers are often seen as easy pickings by criminals.
I try to only use ATMs that are located inside of banks or reputable shops. If I ever have to access money and those places aren’t open, I look for ATMs that are covered by CCTV. If a machine looks dodgy and vandalised, that’s a red flag.
In some countries, it’s a common crime for strangers to try to “help” you when you’re using an ATM. If this happens, it’s best to use a firm “no” and decide whether or not you want to use that ATM. For me, it would depend on whether or not the individual has gone and how open the area around me is.
10. When drinking, make sure that you stay vigilant.
I’m not going to tell you not to drink at all and to stay completely sober while travelling. I’ve definitely been out drinking around the world and it just isn’t practical advice. What’s important is recognising that it can come with a risk, regardless of where you are in the world. Pacing yourself and not getting too drunk can be important, especially if you’re travelling solo.
When drinking, I would always advise making sure that you see your drink being made and that it doesn’t leave your sight or get left on a table. It’s horrifying to think that there are people out there who slip things into people’s drinks and we have to be extra vigilant because of that.
If anyone ever makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to ask your bartender for help. Most will happily help you to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
11. Plan your journey carefully.
While planning your adventure, it’s worth really honing in on some of the finer details if you want to. Are you going to be arriving at night? If you are, you need to make sure that you find the safest way to get to your accommodation with your belongings. If public transport isn’t running, I often pre-arrange transport with my hotel or host.
If you’re driving, it’s worth researching the rules and regulations where you’re travelling. They can be very different from country to country and they can end up putting you and others at risk if you’re not familiar with them. For example, when I lived in the United States for a few months I had absolutely no idea initially that drivers go right on red.
12. Try to blend in with some of the locals.
For me, blending in is especially important if you’re travelling solo. While you don’t need to make sure you’re dressed the same way as everyone else, it is worth making sure that you look like you’re walking down roads you’ve walked down a million times prior. In a lot of places, criminals target tourists and can easily identify them. Blending in can help to prevent that.
If you’re a little lost, try diving into a café or a shop to check a map and get your bearings. That way, you don’t just look like a lost tourist standing around in the street.
I like to spend a little bit of time watching the locals when I’m travelling. Are they loud or quiet? Are there areas where they don’t use their phones? How do they seem to greet each other? These little nuances can help you to emulate the behaviour of those around you.
13. Check that you’re aware of common scams.
Scams look very, very different around the world. In Paris, it’s common to see people trying to tie bracelets around tourists’ wrists. In Thailand and many other countries, tuk-tuk scams can be an absolute nightmare. While the former can immediately look like there’s a scam going on, the latter can seem very realistic if you’re not already aware of things like prices.
Different cities often lean towards different scams and it’s worth learning about the ones that are common where you’re going. This should give you a little bit of insight into which red flags you should look out for.
14. Make your room a little bit safer.
First and foremost, I always recommend thoroughly researching your accommodation before getting there. Don’t read just one set of reviews on one website.
I have previously worked as a copywriter for many companies in the travel industry. In the past, I’ve been offered money to write fake reviews. While I’ve never taken it, those offers have made me very vigilant when reading reviews. Please check multiple platforms and look out for strange repetition.
There are a lot of different things you can do to make your room a little bit safer upon arriving at your accommodation. Make sure your door is locked and deadbolted, use the do not disturb sign to give the appearance that you’re in and don’t let any strangers into your room. If someone knocks on your door unexpectedly, don’t hesitate to give the front desk a call and ask why someone has been asked to come to your room.
15. Some things just aren’t worth the picture.
It seems to be a new normal to see travellers doing ridiculously dangerous things for a social media photo. To stay safe, it’s important to know your own limits. Hearing about people falling in water and from cliffs while taking photos seems to be commonplace now.
If you’re hoping to climb something for a picture, make sure that you have a lot of climbing practice under your belt. If you’re planning on being next to the water, make sure that you understand water safety and pay attention to the signs around you. Cliffs in particular offer a different type of danger, where important things like the safety of first responders are often overlooked for photos.
Know your limits. If something seems like it could be risky, see if you can find a safer way of emulating the photograph that you want to achieve.
Have Fun, Stay Safe and Enjoy Exploring!
As you can see, there are lots of different ways that you can keep yourself safe while travelling. These are just some of the first tips that come to my mind while thinking about travel safety tips everyone should know. But, there are many others to discover.
Remember, always trust your gut. That really is the most important thing I can share with you.
Would you like to share your travel safety tips? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.