Updated: Jul 21, 2022
Some of the most common travel safety advice I have heard is “trust your gut.” And while this can be valid in some situations, the fact of the matter is, some people should definitely NOT trust their gut! People have a wide range of risk tolerance and awareness, so what is “safe” to one person may actually be a very dangerous situation. Of course, if you get a feeling deep down that something is not right or has the potential to not end well, you should definitely listen to your inner voice. But if you’re someone who likes to throw caution to the wind, or maybe you’re just new to traveling, make sure to always use these travel tips when you are out adventuring.
Is It Worth The Risk
When it comes to travel, people will have different opinions on where it is and isn’t safe to travel. We all have that one family member who warns about a country you’re about to travel to even though they’ve never been themselves. The news gives us flashy headlines about certain destinations and creates an image of a country many people will believe without having seen it with their own eyes. While I am by no means encouraging you to travel to war-torn countries, countries in current political upheaval, or places that rank poorly on the Global Peace Index, I do think it is important to take people's words of caution with a grain of salt. Even if you stay at home and never travel, bad things will inevitably happen. Travel is challenging and puts you out of your comfort zone. It can make you need to think quickly on your feet or adapt to unplanned circumstances. And of course with that comes an element of risk. Still, by being well prepared and knowing how to avoid dangerous situations, you will be able to mitigate the risk and have an amazing travel experience.
Travel Safety Tips
With age and experience comes wisdom, which is how I came up with the following safety tips to use while you’re traveling. While some of them might seem a little weird to do at first, over time they will become second nature in your travel routine and ensure you are safe no matter where you roam! Let’s take a look!
Don’t Drink Too Much
Whether you’re solo traveling or on a girls trip, it can be tempting to have a few alcoholic beverages on your adventure. As someone who is studying wine for their master’s degree, I do understand the joy of a good drink! Still, it is important to always be able to identify where you are, who you are with, who and what all is around you, and how to get home. Unfortunately, alcohol can limit your ability to do this, so make sure not to drink too much!
Lock You Stuff Up
When staying at a hostel this should be an automatic response to storing your luggage and valuables. Still, even in a nicer hotel room, or in your bag at the beach, locking up valuables is wise. While it might not fully deter a thief from trying to rob you, it will at least slow them down making it more likely you will be able to catch them.
Don’t Let People Know Your Plans
It can be exciting when you’re in a hostel to swap travel routes and tales, but it is important not to overshare. From your plan for the day to your extended travel plans, try to keep the information you share vague. If someone knows you’ll be out of the hostel for three hours on a tour, it might give them an idea to rummage through your stuff during that time. Of course, you will hopefully make friends along the way (especially if you’re solo traveling) so if you connect with someone and want to meet up at a different destination, by all means, share away! Overall though, it is wise to not just go sharing your itinerary with strangers.
Get Travel Insurance
If you get ill or injured along the way, get your stuff stolen, or get stranded at a destination due to travel cancellation, travel insurance will help you ensure your safety. While it might be annoying to pay for it and not use it, you won’t regret having it if you need it.
Pro Tip: First time using travel insurance? We uncovered everything you need to know about What Is Travel Insurance?
Don’t Make It Obvious You’re Using Maps
When walking about a new place alone, you don't want to do anything to draw attention to the fact that you are alone and not familiar with your surroundings. While google maps can be a huge lifesaver when traveling, try not to make it obvious you are following directions on your phone. Firstly, having your phone out makes you a target for a quick drive-by phone snatch. It is best to keep it out of sight unless absolutely needed. Secondly, if someone notices you seem lost or out of place, they might target you for a potential scam or attack. If you need to search for a place, duck into a corner shop out of sight of others to use your phone, or just quickly check your directions before lowering your phone again.
Learn The Local Scams
A quick google search can reveal what common scams you can find in the place you are visiting. From cloning ATMs to drive-by purse snatchings, you want to know what to keep an eye out for before you go.
Know Local Emergency Numbers
Did you know each country has a different emergency number? When I first started traveling I just assumed everybody used 9-1-1, and it wasn’t until I needed to help someone by calling for an ambulance that I realized just how naïve my assumption was. Google the local emergency number before you go and save it in your phone just in case. Hopefully, you will never have to use it, but if you do need it, you’ll be glad you saved it.
Learn What Are Dangerous Areas
In big cities and deserted rural areas, there will always be certain neighborhoods or streets that you should avoid. To ensure you don’t accidentally mosey into a dangerous area of town, google where you should and should not go before you arrive at your destination.
Let People Know Where You Are
With technology being as advanced as it is today, there is really no reason for someone not to know where you are. I am very lucky to have amazing friends and family back home who check in with me daily when I’m traveling solo to ensure I’m alive. Before I head out for the day, I always share my general plans with at least one person so someone has an overall idea of where I’ll be. Sure my plans might change, as it is always good to allow for spontaneous adventures to occur, but they will at least generally know where I am planning to be. Plus, iMessage and WhatsApp both allow location sharing, so I always ensure that when I am out of my hostel or apartment, I have my location sharing on.
Don’t Let People Know You’re Alone
Of course, if you are meeting people in a hostel, it might be quite obvious you are alone. This rule doesn’t apply to that scenario but instead applies for when you meet people out and about. Depending on what country you are in, strangers might approach you in public either to sell you something or to get to know you. And they can become pushy fast. It is always better to keep your guard up and not let people know you’re alone. It never hurts to have a backup story in place in case someone is extra pushy. In the past when I have found myself in situations like this, I usually say my husband is grabbing us coffee and I am on my way to meet him.
Never Tell People Where You’re Staying
Protect your address at all costs when traveling. If you’re staying in an apartment building, never reveal to a person the apartment or floor number you are in. If someone asks you while you are out where you are staying, be vague or act like you forget the name of the hostel you are staying at. Of course, if you are taking someone home on a night out, this will reveal your address, so do so with caution and only after ensuring the said person is safe to share this information with.
Don’t Risk It For The Instagram
Who doesn’t want amazing travel photos to commemorate a travel experience and post on insta? Still, you should never risk your safety to get a cool picture. Don’t hang over cliffs or pose in the middle of the street. Your safety is never worth risking.
Keep Your Money Sources Separate
If you have a money belt, definitely use it when out and about. Regardless, it is still important to keep your money sources separate. You should always travel with local currency and a few card options to pay for things. I personally travel with one debit and two to three credit cards just in case one gets stolen or doesn’t work. Having multiple options on hand can ensure you don’t get stuck in a dangerous situation. It is important though to keep them all separate. So if you use a purse or backpack, a wallet, a phone car holder, etc., keep your cards in different places and leave one behind in your living space.
Know What Is Safe To Eat And Drink
Depending on where you are traveling, certain foods and drinks might not be safe for foreigners to consume. Before you go, make sure to research if it is safe to drink the local tap water. Additionally, make sure to look up if there are any foods you should avoid eating. Nobody wants their trip to be ruined by food poisoning!
Bring Medications For All Scenarios
From traveler's tummy to allergic reactions, you want to make sure you are prepared for all medical situations you might find yourself in. While your luggage space is limited when traveling, packing a few different medications is always a good idea to make sure you are prepared for anything that comes your way.
Pro Tip: Make packing your medicine bag easy by using our packing guide on all of the Medications You Should Always Pack When Traveling.
Keep Digital Copies Of Important Documents
Even if you just take a photo and save it on your phone of your important travel documents, like visas, your passport, I.D., credit cards, etc., having a backup copy is important in case something gets lost or stolen. Better yet, photocopy your documents and keep them tucked safely away in your bag just in case.
Don’t Penny Pinch
Sometimes saving a few dollars is not worth it for your safety. While it might be tempting to book a cheap hostel in a sketchy area or walk home in the dark instead of shelling out for an Uber, this might not always be wise. Your safety should never come with a price tag! If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t feel safe, spend the money to get yourself out as soon as possible.
Traveling the world is exciting and should never feel scary! However, to ensure you stay danger free, there are a few things you can do along your adventure to stay safe and worry-free. While it can be tempting to let your guard down while traveling, you should always do your best to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Prepare for anything and everything before you go, and you are sure to have a much safer trip.