Updated: Feb 27, 2020
1. Keep up to Date on Local News
You never know what can happen when you are abroad, and in today’s fast-changing and fast-paced world, anything can happen quickly, whether you are in Paris or deep in the deserts of Central Asia.
It’s good practice to stay informed when you are on the road, and one of our top travel safety tips is to keep up to date with the local news. If it looks like there might be protests in the next city, maybe reconsider visiting, or if there has been an unusual number of incidents involving tourists, perhaps keep away for the time being.
2. Watch the weather
As well as keeping up to date on local news, one of our best travel tips is to also keep up to date on the weather. This is more important in some countries than others, and if it’s going to be a typhoon season in the Philippines, you might want to consider visiting at a different time of year.
But bad weather can affect your travel plans anywhere, and flooding could disrupt transport in England, or avalanches could be a danger in the Pyrenees in spring.
If it’s particularly hot you’ll want to keep hydrated, while if it’s going to be cold, you’ll want to make sure you take adequate cold-weather gear with you.
In regards to the weather, it is absolutely essential that you do your
research on the best times to visit the place you want to travel to. This will give you invaluable insight into what to expect and how to prepare for the time period you plan to travel there.
3. Check Government Websites
Another of our top safety tips for travel is to check government websites before you travel. Many governments and embassies keep up to date profiles on countries around the world, and provide detailed rundowns on practical information such as entry requirements, and also on the political climate.
Websites such as the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also break down which regions within a country are safe to travel to.
Remember, of course, that these government websites are always going to be more over the top than the actual situation on the ground, and in some cases, government travel warnings can be politically motivated, rather than warning of any likely physical danger.
They are a good place to start though when you are planning your travels, and you are looking for more detailed safety tips for travel.
I can’t stress enough to just use this as heads up of sorts for your travels. We’ve traveled to many places on the warning list and had a wonderful time. The key is to be informed, not paranoid or afraid.
4. Buy Travel Insurance
One of the best tips for travel we can give is to take out adequate travel insurance. Travelers on a budget often overlook this as an unnecessary expense, but when it comes to keeping safe on the road, nothing beats a good insurance policy.
If you get hurt or injured, with a good insurance company behind you, you’ll be able to get instant access to the best health care in the country. If the political situation in a destination deteriorates then you’ll also be able to get out quickly.
There is a multitude of reasons to take out a solid insurance policy, but always read the small print, and check in detail for what you are actually covered for.
Some sporting activities might not be covered under basic policies, such as scuba diving to certain depths or trekking at high altitudes, so always make sure the policy you buy covers you for everything you might need.
5. Leave a Copy of Your Travel Plans with Family
We literally never leave home without emailing copies of our flights, hotels and tour plans to a couple of members of our family. At the very least, your emergency contact should have copies of this information before you leave home.
In the rare chance that something does happen to you, it will go a long way for someone to have your complete travel records. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Create a spreadsheet in Google Docs and send the link.
Be sure to include your flight info for all flights, domestic and international including flight dates, times and numbers, all of your hotels and any tours that you have booked.
6. Check-in Regularly at Home
Now, you don’t have to paranoid about this but once you arrive at your destination, stay in touch back home. Let someone know how things are going and if your plans are going according to the way they are booked. Also, notify them if there are any changes.
This will not only put your family’s worries at ease but also provide the necessary information in the rare event that something happens.
7. Email Yourself Copies of Important Docs
We each have a folder in our email inboxes labeled Travel Docs. This is where we save digital PDF copies of our important documents for our travels.
This includes our passport, driver’s license, medical records, vaccination records, TSA pre-check letter, Global Entry card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, travel insurance policy and any other docs we may need access to while traveling.
In the event that you lose your passport, find yourself in the middle of a political situation, are arrested or any number of other issues, it will be imperative that you have quick access to this information when overseas.
8. Be Medically Prepared
Depending on where you are traveling, you will also want to look into what vaccinations you need beforehand, and what potential diseases you can contract.
If you’re in malarial zones, then take precautions against this, while in some countries, you might need specific vaccinations, such as for Yellow Fever, to even gain entry.
Do not take vaccinations or prophylactics lightly. We highly advise that you make an appointment at an International Travel clinic near to you at least 6 months prior to your trip to discuss with a doctor what vaccinations you may need.
9. Consider Using a Money Belt
Another great safety trip for travel when it comes to keeping your valuables secure is to utilize a money belt or similar accessories to keep things hidden away.
These aren’t always foolproof, as the most intrepid of criminals might always find a way to separate your money from you, but hiding your spare cash and passport can at least stop opportunistic criminals from relieving you of your things.
We’ve also seen people using neck pouches that can be hidden under your clothes. Some claim these are more comfortable and easier to access when you need to.
10. Don’t Flash Your Valuables
Equally, another of the common-sense safety tips for travel is to not flash your valuables. Don’t advertise your expensive electronics, and in some places, you won’t even want to have your phone out to use as a map while you’re walking around.
Bali, in Indonesia, is notorious for drive-by muggings, and many a tourist on the back of a moped has been relieved of their phone while they are riding around directing. When you’re on trains or buses, anywhere in the world, keep your valuables in the seat with you at all times.
I think it also goes a bit without saying, but don’t leave your electronics out unattended. Whether on the charger, on your bed or on a table. This just invites opportunity.
11. Be Careful of Pickpockets
Keep your valuables close, and be aware of your surroundings. If it’s peak time, you might want to avoid crowded public transport too and walk instead.
If you are lounging on a popular tourist beach, then be extra careful of your belongings, as one glance away and you could be relieved of your bag. On night buses and trains, be careful with your bag, as you could easily wake up only to discover it’s gone.
Never carry your wallet, cash or passport in your back pocket. EVER.
12. Wear Your Backpack/Camera/Purse on the Front in Crowded Areas
If you like to carry a purse or day bag with you when you’re out exploring, just know that doesn’t mean your contents are secure within it. If you happen upon a crowded area, get on a packed bus or train, we advise that you immediately put your bag in front of you and keep it there.
This will limit access to your bag without your awareness. If you have a backpack, just turn it around and wear it on your chest. With purses, we strongly recommend you keep the strap on as a sling and then slide it to the front of your body.
If you like to carry your camera out when you travel, this is the part where I advise you to invest in a sling strap. Or at least a strap that is long enough to wear as a sling when you need to. Someone is going to be way less likely to make an attempt on your camera if you have it more secure to your body.
13. Know the Scams
Scams designed to separate you from your money or items are prevalent all over the world. The people that operate them do so for a living and are very good at conning even the most conscious traveler out of something, so don’t think it cannot happen to you.
It will go a long way to do some research ahead of time and learn what the common scams are in the places that you are planning to visit. This will help you to spot these situations from a mile away.
These are some of the most common scams you will come across while traveling:
Broken Taxi Meter: This will usually result in you being charged double, or more for your ride.Hotel worker: When you come across a local on the street that claims to work at your hotel. A technique used to get you to spend money at their shop. When a taxi driver says “That hotel/hostel does not exist anymore”: A lie to get you to book a room at their hotel Flattery: If you are suddenly approached and flattered to no end, move your purse to the front of you and walk away. Damaged Motorbike/Car Rental when returning: Always, ALWAYS, take photos of your car/bike when you pick it up and return it. Offering to take your photo: And then promptly runs off with your phone or camera Let me see the map on your phone: Then snatches the phone and runs
14. Use Ride-sharing Apps
Another of our top travel safety tips is to use ride-sharing apps where you can. Although this means having WiFi or investing in a local SIM card, using apps like Grab in Southeast Asia or Bolt in Europe, provide a new level of accountability.
As well as being easier to use if you don’t speak the local language, there’s no need for negotiation and no chance of being ripped off. You can also track where you, where you are going, and importantly, all the drivers are verified and their number plates registered.
The top ride-sharing apps worldwide are: