Traveling to new places and experiencing new things is as universally appealing as ever. But the mix of excitement and unfamiliarity with new surroundings is often a dangerous mix. Many places are a lot different from home and you have to exercise precautionary measures. Read on as we give you ten travel tips that will ensure many happy memories you can share when you get home.
- Don’t be a target. Flashy jewelries and fancy clothes will single you out to thieves. Not only are simple jeans or shorts and t-shirts more comfortable, they also make you less appealing to people with bad intentions.
- Make your itinerary known – to the right people, of course. Notify hotel staff of your plans for the day and probable departure and arrival times. Give out your contact numbers. When camping, alert rangers or other authorities of your plans.
- Never stray away from your group. Criminals single out the easy victims and someone without a companion fits the profile perfectly. Never go into dark alleys or small shops by yourself. There’s little chance that you’ll get yourself in trouble, but why risk it?
- Be choosy in booking hotel rooms. If possible, stay at the bigger hotel chains. A quaint bed and breakfast out in the middle of nowhere may be a romantic notion. But it’s not the ideal choice from a safety standpoint. Another great safety tip is to choose rooms in the second to seventh floor. They are high enough to make forced entries difficult and low enough to for fire and rescue equipment to reach.
- Never place all your important documents and money all in the same place. Don’t bring the bulk of your cash with you when you visit tourist spots. Consider using a no foreign transaction fee credit card instead of paying with cash. Most hotels have safes and valuables are best left here. Sling your bag’s strap across your chest instead of over one shoulder. This makes it harder to fall accidentally or be yanked away by snatchers. You can buy bags with straps that have steel cables sewn into them. These are harder for thieves to cut. But often, concealing your valuables is a better alternative. There are security pouches available that you wear around your neck like a necklace. These stay hidden under your shirt or blouse and can safely contain your passport, cash, and credit cards.
- Try your best not to look like a tourist. Always try to be alert – or at least appear that way. And keep adults and children in a one-to-one ratio. Never have a single adult take charge of several small children as his or her attention can then be easily diverted. As more than 30% of American leisure travelers have kids with them, families become the favorite target of criminals. Whatever you do, don’t look like you seem lost. Con artists and thieves are less likely to prey on people who look like they will put up a fight. The key here is to only look like you are ready to put up a fight. But when you are confronted and your wellbeing or life is at stake, give up your belongings. They are replaceable, you’re not.
- Traveling by air has its own set of rules and guidelines; make sure you get familiar with them. The increased security protocols and the hassle that this change entailed turned many people off air travel. A study in 2008 by the U.S. Travel Association reported travelers avoided an estimated 41 million trips over the course of the past year. Airport horror stories abound, but you can at least minimize the chances of them happening when you follow rules and act sensibly.
- Be aware of local laws and customs. Something as innocent as taking pictures may get you in legal trouble. There are laws in place that prohibit anyone from taking photographs of government buildings, bridges, police and military installations, and transportation facilities. It’s better to ask permission first. Your prescription medications may be banned, and hence illegal, in some countries. Loose pills may be suspected for illegal drugs. It’s best to keep all medication in their original packaging to minimize confusion.
- Memorize and practice saying a few useful phrases in the local language. Don’t expect everyone in the world can speak English. A few local phrases will make asking for directions and crying for help much easier and more effective.
- Make arrangements with your banks and credit card companies. Inquire if they have partners in the country you are visiting. Some credit cards have security features that block suspect transactions, and using your card in a foreign country counts as one. This may cause you considerable embarrassment and inconvenience, so sort it out with your bank long before you go on your trip.
Don’t let the excitement of a long-awaited vacation make you forget prudent actions and sound planning. Yes, you should relax and de-stress while on vacation, but also keep your guard up. These simple tips will at least cover most bases and get you out of a lot of potential troubles. When packing light, make sure to leave room for common sense. In fact, you should put it in your carry-on.