Travel Safety Essentials
Unfortunately our world is not always safe, but we still sometimes decide to go anyway whether to make a statement like Claire Balding going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi or simply because we’ve always wanted to go and it is exciting sometimes to go to such places even if when you board the plane back, you really wonder if you’d do it again and how lucky you were. So you’re ready to go or you’re considering, let’s go through this travel safety checklist.
Research the country. Make sure there is not something going on which the news might be hiding (for instance a lot of countries do not talk about Russia’s LGBT oppression and Russia politics-wise thinks that all is good because they are the ones doing the laws). Preferably ask around on travel sites such as Trekeffect to see if there is a hidden catch and what to avoid, as people have already been there.
If it is a strictly religious country (such as Saudi Arabia) being a woman you are under a great risk if you will not be wearing a hijab, so bear that in mind. Also think twice before PDA as well (Sex and the City 2 illustrated it in a very good and straightforward way), it’s better if you hold until the hotel than end up in the police department. Know traditions and superstitions, just a few of the common ones to blend in and stay safe.
Do not disagree with their views unless you are going on a political trip and you highly wish to do so (like activists visiting the next Winter Olympics) as you might be arrested. And countries with poor human rights and democratic records like Russia have a long reputation of arbitrary jailing of foreigners.
Be ready in case of mugging and pickpockets. This tip in particular can be carried over to all destinations. Although having some of your belongings stolen is always a bad experience, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the damage and consequences.
Never have all your money in the same place. Being in a foreign country without money can be the worst of situations. If you have more than one credit/debit card, make sure to leave at least one of them at home. A popular and efficient technique is to have a decoy ‘spare’ wallet and phone with you while traveling. Get an old wallet, fill it with some expired credit cards, business cards and a $10 bill (or local equivalent). For the phone, bring an old one that still works and carry it around. That way, if you fall victim of criminals, the damage will be smaller. It is worth noting that in extreme situations like being put at gunpoint, it is wiser to just hand the ‘true’ wallet when prompted – anything inside it is still less valuable than your life.
At last, make sure to make copies of all your documents before you leave in case something happens.
Know your emergency contacts. We all plan trips to go smoothly, and we wish yours to be so too. However, you can never be too prepared if something happens. Wherever you’re traveling, get the telephone and address of your country’s embassy, consulates and the number of the local emergency services. Learn how to ask if they speak English, and essential words like yes, no, please and help. Also, always keep your hotel’s business card with you – they can help you through difficult situations, especially when language is concerned.
Don’t look like a tourist. As rewarding as it may be to look nice, make sure you don’t look wealthy in any way. Big expensive cameras, Apple, Galaxies and other gadgets, jewelry, fancy clothes and shoes, all of these are flags that you are a tourist and you probably have no clue of the safety standards in that country.
Stay smart. When traveling somewhere with lower safety standards than your home country, the best safety tip we can give you is to keep your eyes wide open and respect the surroundings. Locals and tourism staff will advise you better on the specifics you won’t find online, but the principle remains: follow the rules. If it’s dangerous after dark, go back before the sun sets. If some region is dangerous at a certain time, stay well clear of it.
Beware of “friendly” strangers – it may seem like you found a goldmine of kindness, but you’re more likely to be looking for your wallet soon after that. The same goes for insistent beggars or salesmen. If you find yourself near one of them, go away as fast as you can.
Also, when walking on the sidewalk, go facing the cars. This way you can avoid cars or bikes sneaking up from behind.
Bring travel insurance and medicine. As much of a bulk as it may be in your suitcase, it’s always better to take any medicine you can possibly ever need with you. Many countries have different laws on prescriptions, and you don’t want to be caught without something you need. Make sure your travel insurance plan caters for all your needs and the country you’re traveling to.
After all these tips, one of the things that help the most is to just look confident. When you know what you’re doing, you don’t look scared or lost, and most criminals will see that and lose interest in you.
Keep these tips in mind, but enjoy yourself too. Check Trekeffect for feedback on your itineraries and plans, and have a safe, pleasant trip!