It seems every month something is in the news regarding an attack on civilians and people are worried about their travel safety. Whether it is a bomb going off in Tunisia, an attack in a restaurant or in a crowded tourist location there seems to be something constantly in the news.
Do you stop traveling or visiting iconic tourist locations? Some do and of course that is their choice. I prefer to keep traveling and just implement some travel safety tips so I don’t become a target.
It may seem as if the world is a dangerous and scary place for people traveling today but the truth is that there have been attacks occurring on tourists and in general for at least the last forty years. Cruise ship attacks, Airline hijackings, bombings have all occurred in the past and yet we still travel.
You can never be 100% safe but there are things you can do to help keep yourself safe while traveling.
Before you go:
• Let someone know your itinerary and how to get in touch with you
• Check your country’s Embassy at the location you’re traveling to and know the location and phone number so you can get in touch with them if necessary. Most Embassy’s will have information regarding safety or any concerns in the area
• You can register with your Embassy so they know you are in country in case something happens.
• Make sure you have extra copies of your passport and passport photos
• Scan other important documents such as credit cards, driver license and important phone numbers.
• Get a good travel insurance policy. If you get injured or really sick a good travel insurance policy can get you to medical care quick or even get you back home. Travel Insurance can also offer; Trip Cancellation protection, Trip Interruption Protection, Emergency Medical Transportation, Emergency Medical / Dental Coverage, Lost / Stolen / Delayed Baggage Coverage, Travel Delay Coverage, Missed Connection Coverage and Rental Car Damage Protection.
• Get an ATM card that allows you to withdraw money internationally, there are some that even have no fees for this.
• Notify your bank what countries you will be in so they don’t flag your credit card for possible fraud use.
At the Hotel:
• Opt for a hotel room between the 3rd and 5th floor. Rooms on the first floor are more likely to attract burglars and rooms on the upper levels could be hard to evacuate should something such as a fire happen.
• Keep your luggage locked when not in your room.
• This one is controversial. Use the room safe. I know people that say they don’t trust the safes because hotel employees might access them. Most of the room safes allow you to input a code and while there is always someone at the hotel that might be able to override the code and gain access I have never had that problem.
• Make sure sliding doors and windows stay locked.
• Pick a room away from the elevator or stairwell. While it is convenient to be close to the elevator, room thieves will usually target rooms close to an exit.
• Familiarize yourself with the exits and fire extinguishers. It might come in handy.
• Take a couple of the hotel business cards with you so you will always know the address if you forget and need to get back to your room.
• While it is easy to tune out and forget the outside world it is best to stay informed of what is going on. By watching the news or checking online news sites you can stay informed of everything from bad weather to political uprisings. Unless you stay connected you might not hear about the political demonstration, bomb attack, typhoon or volcano eruption.
• Have Skype installed on your laptop so you can get in touch with someone if something should happen.
• Get a local phone and SIM card. Program in important numbers such as the hotel and Embassy.
When out seeing the sights:
• Don’t look too conspicuous. Wearing a T-Shirt that says “I heart ____” or unfolding a big tourist map on the street corner just makes you a target for pickpockets or worse.
• Try to stay away from really crowded places. Visit the big tourist locations during off times if possible.
• Stay away from demonstrations and political rallies. Resist the urge to photograph such things, you might be perceived as someone from the opposition.
• Don’t take photos of Government buildings unless you ask permission. You might find your brand new camera confiscated or even be invited to spend time in the local jail.
• When visiting tourist sights be aware your surroundings. Backpacks or packages left unattended, someone that appears out of place, acting nervously or taking notes.
• Dress conservatively, not only to blend in but in some countries where modest dress is normal you don’t want to stick out.
• Don’t be the ugly tourist. You know, the one that complains about everything and talks about how much better it is where you live. All you are doing is bringing attention to yourself and not in a good way.
• Carry your money in your front pocket, avoid carrying a wallet if possible.
• Don’t wear lots of jewelry. There is no one to impress and you are just making yourself a target.
At The Airport:
• Don’t let your bags out of your sight. Not only could someone steal them but someone could put something in them without your knowledge.
• In some places you will notice a very helpful person wanting to take your bags and help you check in. In a lot of cases these are just hustlers. While some may walk you to the front of the line, and are be helpful in getting you checked in fast, they will want money and in some cases might just take off with your belongings.
Have an Exit Plan:
• Know how to get out of your hotel room if something occurs such as a fire or earthquake.
• The same applies to visiting tourist locations. I’m not saying do a full on reconnaissance like you were Seal Team 6, just take notice of things like various exits and such.
• Know how to get help in case of emergency. If something like a Natural disaster, Political coup or terrorist attack occurs, have a plan to get somewhere safe or even out of the country by means other than the airport if necessary.
While there are many more things you can do to keep yourself safe these are the basics and by following them you can have a safer and less problematic trip.
What are some of the things you do to keep yourself safe that we can add to the list?