Before traveling, the excitement and plans of the upcoming trip are usually on the forefront of all thoughts. As I research, plan my outfits and packing, safety is usually the last thing I am thinking about. Last year, before our trip to Thailand, I was really worried about my safety abroad due to the increase in terrorist attacks. Sadly, since November, they have not stopped and continue to be a recurring news story. While traveling should not be consumed by these threats, it is always a good idea to keep yourself as safe as possible when you are traveling. Traveling is life changing as you are exposed to new food, culture, experiences and languages. However, travel can be life changing in a bad way, if you are not prepared and aware of what is going on around you. Today, I am going to share some tips on staying safe when traveling.
Whether you are traveling in a well known tourist filled destination or an off the beaten path city, you must always be aware of what you are doing. It is easy to get into the moment of visiting a beautiful beach or finally seeing that Wonder of the World you have been waiting for. These are the times that people often get pick pocketed or are scammed out of money. The worst feeling is being in a situation you feel unsafe while in a foreign place, not knowing the language or having a device to get in contact with. Preparation is always key in traveling, especially when it comes to your safety.
- Make photo copies of all important documents (credit cards, passports, etc.) – You definitely do not want to be traveling and lose the documents you need to get home. Make sure to always make a copy of your documents and keep on hand. I usually make copies of all forms of ID and my credit cards to keep with me at all times while leaving the real documents in a safe.
- Notify your bank that you will be traveling – This allows for easier use as you travel from state to state or country to country as well as preventing credit card fraud.
- Leave valuables at home – I left my engagement ring at home when I traveled to Thailand. I did not bring jewelry and brought my cheap $5 Forever 21 glasses. When talking with the newlyweds we met in Thailand, they advise that they bought $10 fake rings for the trip. They left their real ones at home so they did not have to worry about losing their rings. If you would be upset if you lost it, do not risk by bringing it.
- When traveling internationally, notify the embassy of the place you are visiting – With the recent global terrorist alerts, you can be sure I let the embassy know when we were traveling to Thailand. An easy online process, STEP is a really great tool for notifications on alerts as well as getting information on the specific place you are traveling.
- Research local tourists scams and recent happenings – Know what you should be watching out for and what you should be sensitive towards. You can never know enough and being well informed is the key to traveling safely.
- Stay alert at all times, be aware of your exits and surroundings – Trust me, I know it is so easy to get caught up in the moment, taking in sights, snapping a picture or just relaxing on vacation. You should always stay alert when traveling. When you enter a venue, restaurant or attraction, look for your nearest exits, always be aware of what is going on around you and always (ALWAYS) leave if you do not feel safe.
While being safe while traveling is important, a lot of people forget about what they are leaving behind when they travel. Their home, family and belongings are being left for days, weeks, sometimes months which means it is the easiest target for burglars. In addition, you wouldn’t just get up and leave without a little preparation. You would ensure your house is locked, your alarm was on and if you have a pet, that they were being taken care of. When planning a trip, safety of your home should definitely be thought of during your planning.
- Leave a family member or friend your planned itinerary – When we traveled to Thailand, we made sure to leave our parents a detailed listing of when we would be arriving, traveling domestically and planning to leave. Good communication will help that someone knows where you should be at all times.
- Have a family member or friend check in at your house – We always have someone staying at our house when we are gone with the dog. If you do not have a pet that requires someone to stay at your place, ask a friend or family member to stop in.
*Give the illusion that you are home if you cannot have someone check in – Doing things like setting up motion censored lights, leaving the windows open and/or having your newspaper or mail picked up will keep the illusion that your everyday activities are occurring.
- Safety proof your house – Just like you would take precautions to ensure your safety while traveling, ensure your house is set up safely before leaving. Make sure electronics are unplugged, all devices are off and set up an alarm system if you do not have one. Bringing your cellphone with you? Set up a device like Simplisafe which allows you to monitor your house from your phone.
*Contact your alarm company to notify – Especially if you are not able to have someone stop in at your place, make sure you notify your
- Stop or forward your mail – It is extremely easy to stop your mail from being delivered while you are away. A simple setup online prevents your mail from being stolen and showing your house as an open target for theft.
Tell me: What are your tips to stay safe when traveling?
Check out past Travel Thursday posts on the Travel page!