Do You Know How to Stay Safe on Vacation?

The world isn’t dangerous or unsafe. Quite the opposite. There are some desperate places and people, even in your home town, but these are a minority. In fact, you’re more likely to get into trouble at home than travelling if you follow these common sense tips on your trips.

1. Remember to look behind you

Get in the habit of looking back when you get up to leave somewhere. Travel is very distracting, and you’re probably carrying more stuff than when you’re at home, so you’re more likely to leave a jacket or journal at that Parisian cafe table where you were people watching.

Walking the Streets

2. Separate your sources of money

You know how you keep all your bank cards in your wallet/purse when you’re at home? Well, don’t do this while you’re travelling. Keep at least one in a different place, preferably not on your person. If you lose all your cards on the road it is very difficult to get replacements, and being without money outside of the country would not be fun.

3. Don’t keep your wallet/purse in your jeans’ back pocket

To avoid being pickpocketed, keep your wallet in your front pocket, especially a pocket that can be buttoned up. Best of all, use the inside pocket of your jacket. There are also a lot of money ‘money belts’ that either hang inside your shirt or wrap around your waist (under your shirt), etc. Make sure it’s waterproof because travelling can often be sweaty/perspiring work. I’d advise against the bum bag/fanny pack type. There is no better way to advertise the fact that you have a load of valuables on you…and, of course, they were never ever cool.

Wallet in Pocket

4. Scan all your major documents

Scan your travel documents and email them to yourself. It was traditional to photocopy your passport and visas, travel insurance, etc, and keep them in a separate part of your luggage or you can leave a copy at home. But these days, digital is best – that way your documents won’t go missing even if your bags do.

Stamps on Passport

5. Don’t trust strangers

It is hard to get to know the locals at a destination if you don’t trust them, but there are limits to how much you should trust them when it comes to your personal safety (going with them into a risky area of town, store), money, and consuming their food or drink (if they are not consuming it themselves). You can do a search for the latest scams that travelers have reported for where you are going. You can also ask your hotel concierge for safety tips.

Meeting Strangers on Vacation

6. Get travel insurance

This is mainly for health costs if you get ill or injured while abroad. Hospital costs can quickly get into the tens of thousands of dollars, even for a minor injury. Insurance is worth it. I use Alliance and Travel Guard.

7. Get vaccinated

Visit your doctor before you leave to get all the relevant vaccinations/immunizations for the destinations you’re visiting, and to learn what health precautions you should follow.

8. Avoid Public Displays of Affluence

If you’re travelling abroad then you’re more than likely to be richer than most of the locals, but advertising this fact by wearing gold jewelry or carrying an expensive camera around your neck is not advisable. It makes you a target for thieves. Leave your jewelry at home and keep your camera in a bag when you’re not using it.

9. Some things are best perfected at home

It may seem like a breeze, but be advised that teaching yourself to ride a motorbike or jet ski in a foreign country is probably unwise. In Thailand, for instance, 38 people a day die in scooter accidents.  Be aware that some travel insurance policies won’t cover scooter-related injuries.

Motorcycles on Vacation

10. Check the fine print and certificates of instructors

If you’re doing a specialist course (scuba diving) or something risky (bungee jumping) then check the operators have legitimate qualifications and a good safety record. There’s usually a reason a course is cheaper than the others. PADI has a list of qualified diving operators – check that list.

Scuba Diving on Vacation

11. Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public spaces

This is so obvious that I am embarrassed to mention it, but people do it all the time. Most notably, travelers leave their bags at their feet or hanging from the back of chairs when they’re at cafes or restaurants. Either keep them on your lap or wrap its strap around your leg.

12. Give it up

There is a simple rule that people find hard to follow: if you are mugged, give over your wallet, watch etc. This shouldn’t be a problem if you have insurance and you’ve left all your irreplaceable items at home. Just do it, and walk away uninjured.

13. Don’t give to beggars

There are exceptions to this rule, but, in general, don’t give away money to people on the street. Apart from the fact that you may have to get your wallet/purse out, encouraging begging is not the most efficient use of your money (and goodwill). If you want to help out then do some volunteer work in the destination or donate some money to a local charity for the homeless.

Beggars on Vacation

14. Be wary of using your credit card at an internet cafe

Internet cafes’ computers may have keylogger software or hardware that records your key strokes, so unscrupulous characters (not necessarily the owners of the cafe) can see the username and password to your online accounts (banking, email, etc) or grab your credit card details. A good trick to make this more challenging is to open a couple of other browser windows (for the website you are using) and half way through entering your passwords or credit card information type incorrect information into these windows.

15. Don’t pat stray dogs and cats

You may be missing your pets at home, but stray animals may be carrying rabies and other infections or they may bite you.  You should also not feed monkeys, for the same reason.

16. Your worst enemy may be your travel companion

Often your travel companions will take risks that compromise your safety. They’ll ask for help from people that you wouldn’t go near, they’ll aggravate a situation with arrogance, or they’ll break any number of the no-nos mentioned above. Don’t submit to their peer pressure. Stand your ground. And if they continue to be unsafe then consider parting ways.

If you are interested in hearing more about how to stay safe on vacation, or need help planning your next dream vacation, contact us at 301-989-1654 or email us at info@colesvilletravel.com. Our staff is ready to assist. Website:  www.ColesvilleTravel.com.

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