Thanks to social media and the availability of cheap airline tickets, the rate of people travelling to different countries is on the rise. Avid travellers want a slice of that thrill-seeking adventure, that perfect Instagrammable photo, that mouth-watering exotic cuisine, and all those other cool stuff they see online. Going on holiday trips are meant to be relaxing and fun. However, despite one’s effort to ensure that their trips go smoothly as planned, there’s still a possibility of things going wrong.
So before you leave, it is best to review these tips to staying safe when travelling to make sure you have an enjoyable vacation.
1. Plan and research
Planning ahead of your trip will not only help you prepare for your trip budget but it will also let you know the safest places to go. Be sure to do your research to avoid getting scammed on trips.
In Bangkok, it is common knowledge that tuk-tuk drivers within Khaosan Road and nearby areas tend to scam tourists and say that your destination temple is closed. They’d instead suggest a different temple but will inform you to do a stopover at a textile shop or jewelry factory. They get free petrol or get other incentives for bringing in customers to these stores. In the Philippines’ capital city, Manila, there are a few taxi drivers who will rip you off and charge you exorbitant fares when you hail them at the airport. The same thing goes at the airports in Bali and other busy airports in the world. Make sure to have a local physical map or a digital alternative like a Google maps radius tool to accurately plot your destination to avoid being scammed, or worse, taken to an unfamiliar location.
You can spare yourself the trouble of arguing with these scammers and avoid feeling unsafe once they start to threaten you and make you feel helpless only if you’ve done your research.
2. Listen to your country’s travel advisories
As of this writing, there has been prolonged period of political unrest and street violence in Nicaragua prompting holiday makers to leave the place. There are other countries that are also under civil unrest so you need to make sure you take heed the advice of these advisories.
3. Secure your health
You will need to get some flu and vaccine shots before entering certain countries. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador requires you to get a Yellow Fever vaccine before you arrive, so does with most of the countries in South Africa. Other countries might require malaria shots.
4. Get a travel insurance
It’s always best to keep your mind at ease when travelling. Securing a travel insurance will surely help you when you get into accidents.
I’ve been travelling in and out of Asian countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, HongKong, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, China) for the last 6 years but it was only when I went on a 3-week trip to Brazil last year that I secured a travel insurance.
Securing a travel insurance is not necessary, in my opinion, but you will be exposing yourself to greater risks when you travel abroad. The cost alone of seeking medical help in a foreign country might empty your travel funds. So weigh in on this decision wisely and consider getting a travel insurance as this will go a long way in helping you gain accident abroad compensation.
5. Inform people you trust of your travel plans
When travelling, always tell people you trust where you are going and who you will be travelling with. You should also let them know how long you will be gone.
6. Choose your accommodations wisely
When choosing where you will stay in a foreign land, always make sure you read reviews on booking sites first. You want to make sure you will stay in a peaceful and safe community when you travel abroad.
When I went to HongKong, I made sure to stay away from the crowded and tight spaces of certain areas in the city because of horrible reviews I’ve read from different travellers. Of course, you always have to take each feedback with a grain of salt. So choose wisely when deciding to book your stay during your trip.
7. Beware of accepting gifts or items from strangers
When you are flying out, never allow strangers to put something in your luggage. Sometimes the good samaritan in us kicks in when we see people or hear stories of how they’ve run out of luggage space and want to share their excess baggage with you. Never agree to that. You don’t know they might be drug mules or who knows what. If you really want to help, give them money to pay for their excess baggage fees instead. Otherwise, decline politely.
When going out partying at clubs, always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended. Never accept drinks from strangers too and avoid drinking too much. You might put yourself at risk of getting drugged, robbed or other worst unimaginable things if you allow yourself to be in this situation.
8. List the address of where you are staying
Always leave a copy of where you are staying on your phone, notebook or a piece of paper. Also make sure you translate it in the local dialect of that country.
In China, it is difficult to hire a taxi driver and tell them your destination in English. Majority of them doesn’t know how to speak English. It will be easier if you simply show the address of your destination in Chinese so that they can bring you to the right address.
9. Always make sure your phone is charged
Always charge your phone (and bring a power bank too) before leaving your hotel. Unless you are in a crowded city, be sure not to drain your phone’s battery so that you can still use them in case you find yourself in an emergency situation.
10. Take note of local emergency service numbers on where you are going
Writing down these numbers might come in handy at some point during your trips. Might as well take note of the phone number of your country’s embassy.
11. Be mindful of your surroundings
Stay vigilant at all times. Take note of landmarks so that when you get lost, you will know your way out.
12. Leave your jewelries at home
If you love wearing jewelries, it is best that you leave your prized possessions at home. Just bring fashion accessories, those without any real value or buy one at your destination as a way to help the local economy. If you are travelling alone to a place where you don’t think it’s safe and secure, never even attempt to wear flashy and shiny jewelries for you will be an easy target to pickpockets and robbers.
13. Dress appropriately
Each country has its own set of dress codes and you should abide by it. How will you know what to where? Research. There’s always an appropriate outfit for each country you visit. You can’t simply wear a swimsuit and roam around streets in conservative countries. You will only invite danger by doing so.
14. Never carry large amounts of cash
Never bring your entire travel fund with you when you leave your hotel. It is wise to only bring enough for you to last the day. Keep the rest in a secure place. Also make sure you distribute securing your money in different areas of your backpack or luggage.
15. Always listen to the advice of the locals
We got robbed in Brazil last year because we didn’t listen. That nightmare would not have happened if we only listened to the security staff at the hotel we were staying.
16. Be careful with what you eat
Oftentimes, a great vacation gets ruined because of food poisoning. No one really knows who’d get hit with this so just be sure you choose where and what you eat wisely. If you have a sensitive stomach, stick to drinking bottled water and assess how the food you are about to eat is cooked/prepared.
My plan to explore Cameron Highlands in 2016 got ruined because of food poisoning while I was in transit in Penang. I was stuck, alone in that city for 4 days and couldn’t leave my hotel room.
17. Bring an emergency first aid kit
If you are going on a camping trip, be sure to bring the necessary things like a flashlight, extra batteries, non-perishable food, maps, blanket, etc. Prepare a medicine kit too and stash it with your basic pills for vitamins, diarrhea, headache, fever, anti-histamines, and such.
18. Trust your gut
Pay attention to your gut instinct. No matter how good something looks, if it doesn’t feel right, walk away.
What other tips would you add to this list?