Is it a bucket-list dream of yours to one day travel the world, or part of it on your own? Or perhaps to be adventurous enough to explore off-the-beaten-path developing countries where you do not speak the native language?
For all the keen and aspiring travellers here, we give you the top ten world travel tips and these apply whether you’re travelling in a group, solo or a woman travelling on her own. These travel safety tips will help you not just survive your journey, but thrive, have the time of your lives and want to do it all over again!
TOP 10 WORLD TRAVEL TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY WHILST TRAVELLING
1. Do Your Research Thoroughly
Does anyone else find that planning, discussing and researching a trip is almost as fun as the actual travel? Checking out the must-go places and must-do activities, where to go for the best eats, and what local delicacies or native foods you must try. All the text messages going back and forth recommending a must-do/see/visit place if you’re travelling in a group – that’s the fun stuff (if you have the time and tenacity to read them all).
More important than that is our Travel Safety Tip #1:- take the time to look up safety information for where you’re headed. What is the crime rate like, are there certain neighbourhoods you should stick to, and ones you should avoid? Where is the closest medical centre to where you are staying?
As for where you’re staying, make sure you read the reviews and look out for safety red flags. What are guests saying about their experiences, and are there any patterns in the reviews you should be concerned about?
How are you going to get around, and what are public transportation options like? Would you need to rent a car? How about night times, is it safe to travel?
When it comes to activities, like adventure sports, what are the risks? If there is an accident, will it be covered by travel insurance?
Visit a clinic beforehand and talk to a doctor or nurse about where you’re going. Do you need any vaccinations or prescriptions? Are there local health issues for which you should prepare?
Whether travelling alone or in a group, or to a new place, you should do your research in advance, well before your trip begins.
2. Keep Your Valuables With You
But the question is why are you carrying valuables when you are travelling in the first place?
An important travel safety tip is not to bring anything that is too precious to lose – these would be the likes of wedding rings, family heirlooms, expensive jewellery, your birth certificate etc.
Digital nomads and influencers would travel with work items such as DSLR cameras with expensive lenses, laptops, tablets, Kindles and at least one smartphone. If you consider the cost of these items, they definitely count as valuables.
A travel safety must-have is a day bag into which you can put all your important items such as your passport, identity card, medication, jewellery, camera, credit cards, smartphone and any other valuables. Make sure that it is a strong secure day bag – don’t skimp on this.
Never put these items into your checked luggage on a plane, or into the luggage hold on a bus. Do not let your valuables out of your sight as you may not see them again.
3. Take What You Need For The Day and Leave the Rest Locked Up
Travel light when you’re out exploring a new city – you don’t need all your credit cards, passports and loads of cash.
Approximate what you need for the day, some cash, a credit card, and a water bottle – the rest should be locked up safely in your accommodation.
If you’re staying in a hotel, make use of their safe deposit boxes. If you are staying in an Air BnB or a hostel, check if these facilities are provided.
If you’re heading somewhere more remote, you can consider this option instead. Invest in a slash-proof bag where you can store your valuables and lock the bag to something sturdy in the room. Especially if you are travelling alone, this is an essential travel safety item.
While it does not fully eliminate the risk, most criminals are opportunistic, meaning if you remove the opportunity, they will target someone else who left their valuables out in the open.
4. Don’t trust so easily
In the throes of a new adventure and especially if you are travelling alone, it can be tempting to make friends spontaneously and join a group. This may apply more so to extroverted, lively, friendly souls. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, these can turn out to be great friendships for life.
But not always. There are con artists who have mastered the art of befriending people travelling alone, getting them to leave their valuables unattended, robbing them and then running off.
Sometimes, we may feel that we want to have that connection so badly that we start trusting people before we should. A world travel tip for safety is to hold back, and not be so trusting. On just meeting someone, do not trust him or her to guard your valuables when you go to the bathroom.
Err on the side of caution. Take the friendship slowly and if they earn your trust, that is when you can depend on them.
5. Blend in as much as you can
Have you ever been out and about and been able to spot a tourist a mile away?
The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location and this makes you vulnerable to unwanted attention.
You may want to research your destination in advance, observe how people dress and try to pass off as a local or at least, not attract too much attention.
Here are some examples – you can wear singlets and shorts in countries like Thailand and Maldives. In Muslim countries, you should cover your legs, arms and cleavage. The exception to this is Bali (Indonesia) which is mostly Hindu. In Europe and Latin America, it is the norm to wear long pants and if you’re touring India, favour loose clothing.
Another travel safety tip going along with blending in is maintaining confidence all the time – or as they say, fake it till you make it.
Walk purposefully down a street with good posture with your head up and shoulders back. If you happen to fall prey to street harassment, just ignore it, pretend you have somewhere important to be and keep moving. If you’ve lost your way, just slip into a shop or café to get your bearings and consult your phone e-map before continuing.
6. Watch your alcohol intake
Whether you’re at home or on the road, drinking alcohol dulls your senses and slows your reaction time, making you vulnerable to others.
Especially if you’re travelling alone and just made new friends who want to toast the new friendship, here are some tips.
You don’t have to abstain completely, instead just drink slowly. Pace yourself. Make sure you eat beforehand. Drink water between drinks. Be aware of what you are actually drinking and take drinks directly from the bartender. If you feel that you have lost your sense of control, it’s best to stop.
Stand your ground and resist the pressure to keep up with others who may want to drink more than you (and can!). Just say up front that you don’t plan on drinking.
The day after, load up on water and Vitamin C – your body will thank you!
7. Don’t skimp on safety
The temptation is that you would want to spend your hard-earned cash when it comes to fun activities. But an important travel safety tip is to financially invest in your own safety.
What does this mean?
It means paying more and choosing the dive school with the reputation for being super-safe and tons of favourable Google reviews instead of the rough-edge unkempt dive school that will do it for much cheaper.
Especially for solo travellers and women travelling alone – it means paying more to stay in a central neighbourhood with lots of lively activity instead of a cheaper, quieter residential area where you may be isolated. It means paying for a taxi or Grab/Uber to take you home at night instead of walking on your own.
8. Prepare for the worst with documents and secret cash
Holidays can potentially turn unpleasant – you might get sick and need to go to the hospital. Or you are a victim of credit card fraud and the bank cancels your card. Or you get pickpocketed or your wallet gets stolen.
Make use of techs like Google Docs or Dropbox to store front-and-back copies of your credit cards and your passport and other identifications. Store your bank and credit card phone numbers in a document as well.
Have a backup cash stash. Keep RM200 in a few secret spots in your luggage, like RM100 in a sock and RM100 in your clean underwear. A backup credit card in a separate spot is another travel safety tip.
You may need more extreme protection if you’re travelling somewhere remote where it may be hard to find an ATM and internet access. In those cases, you’ll want to be even more prepared, and have more money stashed away.
9. Travel Insurance Is A Must
Is travel insurance really necessary? Yes, definitely.
There is really no reason not to get it in this day and age with so many online providers.
You may lose your luggage, get involved in a natural disaster or a political coup or need to go to the hospital. In all these cases, travel insurance will cover your expenses. If you are robbed, travel insurance will provide you with the security you need.
If the very worst happens and you end up losing your life, good travel insurance will allow your family to bring your body home without the added trauma of getting wrapped up in mountains of red tape and paying tens of thousands of dollars.
Do examine prospective travel insurance policies in depth, because they may not cover your personal situation. Many insurance plans won’t cover certain adventure sports or particular countries or regions. Some plans may only cover a fraction of the value of your electronics.
10. Check In With Your Loved Ones Regularly
A good travel safety tip is for at least one family member or designated friend to have a copy of your itinerary in advance; your flight numbers, accommodation and general schedule of where you will be on which dates. Tech makes it really easy to keep in touch these days with the likes of facetime calls, WhatsApp, emails, zoom calls and more.
NOW THAT YOU’VE ARMED YOURSELF WITH THESE WORLD TRAVEL TIPS, ARE YOU READY TO TRAVEL?
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