7 Safety Tips for Traveling in a Foreign Country
Whether you’re visiting a foreign country to immerse yourself in one of its bustling cities or to explore the natural beauty of a remote landscape, traveling to new places is exciting, rewarding, and thought-provoking. But because foreign lands are, by definition, unfamiliar, it’s important to take safety precautions. It pays to be prepared in the event an unfortunate situation such as an accident or natural disaster occurs.
Researching Your Chosen Travel Destination
Before you hop on a plane (or however you choose to get there), research as much as you possibly can about the country you’re visiting. Seek to identify the core foundation of the region’s culture and customs.
To that end, what public transportation options are available? Where is your country’s embassy building located? What are the major differences between this country and the your home country? Equipping yourself with this knowledge beforehand can aid you as you navigate foreign terrain. Something as pedantic as a hand gesture can be misinterpreted in a foreign country. This can leave locals offended and you possibly receiving some form of punishment.
Who You Should Notify of Your Travels
Being that you’re going to be in a foreign place, it’s imperative that you share your itinerary with:
- Your Friends and Family – If they know where you’re planning to be and you check in with them at set times, they’ll know if they should report something should they not hear from you.
- Your Bank – This ensures that you don’t run into any problems trying to make purchases with your credit cards or when trying to retrieve cash from an ATM
- Your Embassy –Notifying your embassy that you’ll be travelling to foreign country, enables them to text you important safety updates. US citizens can register for the US Department of State’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
On the flip side, don’t share information about your itinerary with strangers, even if they seem friendly. If you do, never include details like the exact whereabouts of where you’ll be staying. You may also want to avoid posting social media updates that make it clear you are travelling abroad and your home may be vacant. This can lead to potential break-in and theft from your property back home.
Prepare for Potential Severe Weather
Some of the world’s most exotic locations also have the most unpredictable weather. Prepare for natural disasters by purchasing a survival bag, complete with all the resources you’ll need in a worst-case scenario.
No matter where you’re visiting, every survival bag should be engineered for durability and include:
- Water with a bottle and filter
- First aid kit
- Duct tape
- Hand crank AM/FM radio
- Multipurpose charger
And if you’re vacationing in cold climates or exploring the wild, you may want to include the following items in your survival kit.
- An Insulated tent
- A thermal blanket
- Handwarmers and gloves
- A fire starter
- A paracord
- Air filtration mask
Travel with Friends or Family
Lacing up your sneakers and exploring a city by foot can be a wonderful experience, but avoid going solo to off the beaten path attractions, especially at night. Doing so increases your chances of being mugged or attacked and reduces the chances of having any witnesses present.
If you end up alone and sense that you’re being followed, walk into the nearest hotel or open business and ask for help. It may be wise to also carry self-defense items such as pepper spray, mace, or a personal taser. You of course need to make sure that these items are allowed to be used in the country you are visiting since some countries prohibit the use of a number of these products. If you feel you’re being followed, don’t walk back to where you’re staying. Walk in a different direction and find a populated place or help as quickly as possible.
Keep Your Assets in Separate Places
It might seem counterproductive to keep your cash, credit cards, ID and passport in different locations, but it’s a smart thing to do when traveling abroad. By doing this, you won’t lose all your money and important documentation if you’re mugged. It adheres to the old adage of “not keeping all your eggs in one basket”.
It might also be clever to carry a “decoy” wallet on you. In the event you get mugged, you can throw the fake wallet on the ground and run away without losing anything.
Secure Your Travel Belongings
Don’t leave your hotel room (or wherever you’re staying) without locking your doors and windows thoroughly. And if you have expensive jewelry, don’t wear it out. Keep it locked in the room with any other valuable possessions. If you happen to be staying at a hostel, ensure that you have access to a locker and always keep it locked.
Purchase Travel Insurance
If your normal insurance plan doesn’t cover you and your family abroad, travel insurance is usually a must-have. Of course, this depends on where you’re traveling to, as some places are more dangerous than others. Travel Insurance can be extremely important should the need arise where you are required to receive medical treatment overseas. This can prove to be quite costly, especially in instances where you need helicopter evacuation from remote areas or off a cruise ship. Purchasing travel insurance can also financially protect you in the event your travel items are damaged or lost. It can also reimburse you for travel delays or travel disruptions that are caused by unforeseen natural disasters.
Enjoy Your Travels
Whether it’s a freak accident or a natural disaster, things can go wrong. While you shouldn’t let fear put you off from traveling or affect you during your trip, you should learn to travel intelligently. Incorporate the safety tips above to help mitigate the consequences should unfortunate circumstances occur. When it comes to travel, the saying “it’s always better to be safe than sorry” really does ring true.