Traveling and immersing yourself in a new place and culture can be an exhilarating experience. The promise of new scents, tastes, and meeting new friends along the way are all wonderful reasons to explore new places and expand your horizons.
While most of the time the most eventful part of traveling is hopefully no worse than lost luggage, it can be dangerous to travel to some locations unless you are fully prepared. By keeping in mind these 10 essential safety tips for exploring an unfamiliar place you should be all set for an amazing trip that will leave you with only great memories to last a lifetime.
10 Leave Your Itinerary With Friends Or Family
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to leave your schedule of events and contact information with someone back home. If you don’t have an international phone plan, then your friends and family won’t be able to get in touch if you are traveling out of the country. If you have a family emergency and someone needs to get in touch it’s a good idea to leave them the list of where you will be staying and any contact information you have for those places. For anyone planning to be off the grid and outside of contact, it’s best to leave your intended schedule so that someone knows when you should be expected back. Let them know you’ll call-in when you return and that way they will know to be worried if they don’t hear from you after a certain point.
9 Emergency Contacts
Before leaving on your trip find out what the local emergency contact information is for police and ambulance service. The instinct to call 911 when an emergency arises won’t help in foreign countries that use other numbers to contact help. It’s also a good idea to find out if your phone will work internationally for these numbers even if you don’t have service within that country. You can add the numbers in your phone, but it is also a good idea to write them down on a piece of paper in case you end up needing them.
8 Keep Your Valuables Safe
Your passport might just be the most important valuable you have with you when traveling. Because of this, it is a good idea to take a picture or scan a copy of your passport. If for any reason you lose your passport, having this information on hand will be helpful if you need to replace it. Depending on where you are traveling you might be able to get cash from ATMs or even use your credit card so the need to bring cash to exchange for the local currency might not be necessary. If you will have to exchange your cash for local currency be sure to keep only a little spending money easily available while keeping the majority well hidden. If your hotel has a safe, consider keeping some cash and other valuables within the safe instead of taking them with you while sight-seeing. Keep in mind that backpacks are easy to unzip, and a thief can quickly reach in and grab something before you would even realize they were there.
7 Watch Out For Scams
The first-time traveler might not be aware of some common scams to be on the lookout for when traveling. One of the best things you can do is to do a search online of common scams that you might find in the country you will be visiting. It can help give travelers an overview of things that they should be wary of. Again, depending on your location, find out about things like local taxi policies. Are the cars always identified? Are they unmarked cars? Forewarned is forearmed. When visiting sights that are busy with lots of tourists be wary of individuals that approach in groups. Some may seek to distract while another person might pickpockets. The best plan of action is to be alert and aware of your surroundings in order to stay safe.
6 Tap Into The Locals
One of the best things about traveling is the people you meet along the way. Immersing yourself into the local culture includes getting to know the people who live there. Most locals want to talk up their town, they are proud of where they live, and they want travelers to walk away thinking about what a great visit they’ve had.
Hotel staff are a great resource, not only because they are usually locals but also because they want you to enjoy your stay in their city.
5 Give Your Bank A Heads Up
The last thing you want to happen when you are traveling is for your credit card to be cut off. Make sure you call your bank prior to your trip to let them know where you will be traveling, this way they won’t put a hold on your account for fraudulent charges. However, sometimes even when you take this step your bank may still put a hold on the account. It’s a good idea to make sure you have more than one card that you can use as a backup but also that you have contact information in case you need to get in touch with your bank while traveling.
4 Be Smart With Food And Water
Sampling local cuisines is one of the best parts of traveling to new places. It gives a glimpse into the culture and you may discover some amazing foods that you never knew existed before your trip. That said, food and water can put a real dent in your plans if you aren’t smart about what you are eating.
One suggestion is getting a water bottle with a built-in filter that you can bring along with you. That way you know the water you’re drinking is filtered and fine to drink. You can also buy bottled water. When looking for places to eat ask the locals for suggestions. You can also keep your eyes peeled for popular places. It’s also a good idea to make sure your food is fully cooked and if all else fails grab some fruit that you can peel.
3 Cover Your Bases
Before you leave on your trip be sure to check the US Department of State website for any alerts of possible threats to travelers. Especially if you are planning on visiting a volatile area. The site can’t cover all possible contingencies, but it can give travelers some information on possible troubles in the area. The site does tend to err on the side of overly cautious so be sure to do additional research before going through the effort of postponing your trip. If you are planning a trip to an area that is known for unsafe conditions, it might also be a good idea to get insurance on your plane ticket in order to avoid losing out on the money of your flight.
2 Know The Customs
When traveling to a new place part of the thrill is learning all about the culture, but make sure you have enough knowledge ahead of time to not run into any problems. If the country you are visiting has very conservative or specific dress codes that are enforced be sure to have the appropriate clothing. This has the dual impact of helping travelers not stick out in the crowd but also to ensure they aren’t breaking any laws. Researching the customs and traditions of the country you’re visiting is a good way to prepare for your trip and also ensure you are being respectful.
1 Safety In Numbers
One of the best parts of traveling is sharing the experience with friends. A great tip to stay safe while having the trip of a lifetime is to bring friends along. Pickpockets might be less inclined to wander into a large group of people as they would be to target an individual. Traveling with a group also means extra eyes to spot something out of the ordinary or if you need someone to keep an eye on your bags at the airport. If you are traveling alone, consider joining some tour groups and get the added bonus of meeting new people who also enjoy traveling.