My mum always says it’s not me she worries about when I travel, it’s everybody else. She trusts that I can look after myself and use my common sense on the road, it’s other people she has her doubts about.
I understand her concerns because I often travel as a solo woman, or with other females.
It’s not rocket science. We should all take precautions when we travel somewhere new.
Whether it be to a nearby city, a neighbouring state in your own country or travelling abroad.
Things can and will happen on your travels, but there are things that you can do to avoid running into trouble.
These are my top 12 tips for safe travel around the world.
1. Always Buy Travel Insurance.
They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. I agree with this 100%. Over the last decade of travelling, this is an expense I always include in my budget. I’ve used many different travel insurance companies over the years.
I have found that World Nomads is the company I now use all the time. They have competitive prices and have helpful staff too. More importantly, they actually pay out genuine claims when you run into troubles on the road too.
2. Separate your money and Credit Cards
Don’t carry all your cash and credit cards in the same wallet. Separate them and put some money in a safe location in a hidden sleeve in your suitcase or backpack.
The same applies for exploring a new city, leave some cash and cards that you won’t need for the day in your locked luggage in the hotel or hostel room.
3. Keep your wallet or handbag where you can see it.
Men, keep your wallets in your front pocket to avoid being pick-pocketed.
Women, wear your zipped handbag or backpack on the front of your body, especially in busy areas and on public transport to avoid being targeted by thieves.
When making purchases in shops or in view of the public, try not to flash your cash or show the contents of your wallet to anyone.
4. Plan how to get home safely
Before you go exploring a new city, source the safest way to get back to your accommodation. Don’t take the shortcut in an unknown area or walk home late at night, just to save a few dollars.
If you are planning on spending a night out on the town, budget and keep aside enough cash to get a taxi home. Better yet, organise to meet and return home with friends or people that may be staying at your place of accommodation too.
5. Use your Smartphone even smarter.
Get the most out of your iPhone. Learn how your Google Maps App can help you know where you are at all times, even offline.
If you plan ahead, use the hostel wifi or even McDonalds (free wifi) and load your Google Maps location, drop a pin of the address of your accommodation. Follow your locater, or as I like to refer to it as the ‘blue dot’.
It’s always a good idea to take a business card or map from your accommodation which has address details in the local language. This helps if you need to give directions to a taxi driver or ask a local about a bus or metro that will take you close to your hostel/hotel.
7. Eat from places that look busy and clean.
Eat from places where the locals eat. Busy cafes, restaurants or street carts where the locals wait or will line up at are what you should be looking for. You will find these places located off the tourist main streets, they’re cheaper and generally the best food available.
TIP: Ask your taxi driver or the staff from the reception of your hostel where they like to eat.
8. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Tourists are easy to recognise, which gives local thieves and scammers an easy target. Try to use common sense at all times and be polite but firm with people who you feel may be trying to scam you out of money or belongings.
TIP: Learn the exchange rate upon arrival into the new country and find out the approximate cost of a taxi or transport in local currency to take you there. Once you exchange currency, learn the bills (which can be very confusing in high denominations) and separate the fare for the taxi before you get in.
Taxi drivers all over the world prey on the fact that you have just arrived at their country from your own, you’re tired and disorientated and have probably just exchanged cash for local currency and don’t know what its worth just yet. If you are flashing your new cash to them, they will have no problem to pluck a bill from your hand that is worth 10 times more than what the fare actually costs.
9. Listen to your intuition.
We’ve all got one. Listen to it! Your intuition will tell you if you have wandered into a dangerous area and to turn around, or if some dodgy character is trying to befriend you so they can scam you.
10. Learn some of the local languages.
Learning some of the local languages can definitely get you out of some sticky situations. For women, in particular, it’s a good idea to learn some words to ask someone to stop bothering you or to go away.
11. Scan your passport and other important documents.
Scan these documents and send them to your email address so that you can gain access to them from anywhere in the world. In some countries, if you lose your passport, it can take up to 6 weeks to find a replacement.
If you have previously scanned this, you can make the process much quicker by producing a copy of all the important details etc.
12. Use the safe or lock your valuables away.
Many people are very poor and desperate for any extra cash. In many countries, the wages are extremely low which is why people will steal your valuables if given the chance. I always lock my valuables, including my laptop and camera inside my big backpack or suitcase or use the room safe if one is provided.
When I stay in a hotel room alone, I do the same thing. I don’t trust the housekeeping staff, probably because I’ve previously been the victim of stolen cash hidden in my unlocked backpack.
I’ve also used a strong bike lock to secure my bag to my bunk bed or kitchen sink in some countries because I didn’t want the whole thing to be taken or stolen whilst sleeping on overnight train journeys.
Do you have any more safe travelling tips to add to this list? We’d love to hear what you do to keep safe o the road. Please share them with us in the comments below.