Traveling overseas is exciting and educational. Being a part of another culture is a great way to broaden your knowledge of the world and break down barriers between different cultures. However, traveling abroad does present a few inherent dangers that you don’t generally find a home. If you’re looking for ways to stay safe while traveling, it’s important to keep a few tips like these ones in mind.
1. Guard your room number. Even in this electronic age, it can be very easy for thieves and other ne’er-do-wells to get your room number. This is bad because, armed with that information, they can steal your possessions when you’re out of the room or return late at night to do you harm. Ask for a new room if the front desk personnel loudly announce your room number at check in. Instead, they should write the number down on a card or piece of paper and hand it to you rather than saying it out loud. In addition, you should avoid leaving your room key (with the number on it) on your breakfast table or at the bar while you’re having cocktails. Nor should you sign your tab with the room number. Pay via cash or credit card instead.
2. Invest in travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn’t just protect your investment should you have to cancel your trip due to illness, severe weather or a death in the family. Medical travel insurance can also be invaluable if you become ill or injured while traveling out of the country. Since most American health care insurance doesn’t cover treatment by doctors and medical facilities overseas, supplemental insurance can help get you the treatment you need without depleting your financial resources. Many companies, such as Medjet, even provide medical transport back to the United States if it’s deemed medically necessary. Think you don’t need this type of insurance because you’re young and in good health? Think again, advises “Lonely Planet.” Even a broken ankle can have long-lasting health consequences if not treated quickly and properly.
3. Be smart with your drinking. Although it’s not a good idea to get too drunk wherever you are, drinking too much is especially dangerous when you’re traveling. People wishing to do harm might see you as an easy mark and your judgment will likely be clouded by the alcohol intake. It’s also a good idea to learn about the types of beer and alcohol served in the country you’re visiting. For example, many Belgian beers have almost twice the alcohol content as beers in the United States. Lastly, it should go without saying to never leave your drink unattended when you are in a public place or with people you don’t know extremely well.
4. Make copies of all of your important documents. Making copies of your passport, your itinerary, your credit cards and other important documents is also essential to staying safe, advises the “Huffington Post.” A simple copy of your travel documents will make it much easier for the U.S. consulate or embassy to re-issue them and even catch the person who stole them. It’s also a good idea to leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust at home, just in case they don’t hear from you when they expect to.
5. Dress and act like a native. Adopting the local customs, language and dress will not only earn you respect of the people who live in the country you’re visiting, but such actions will also help you blend in more easily. Wearing light-colored clothing in a country like Spain where the natives favor dark colors will make you more easily identifiable to criminals as a tourist.
Traveling to other countries doesn’t have to be dangerous. Help insure that you and your traveling companions stay safe by guarding your room number, investing in travel health insurance and being smart with your drinking.