No matter where your journey takes you, it’s important to be vigilant about your personal safety. It could be visiting friends out of town, driving to the beach, or flying to a foreign country.
One of the most popular times to travel is around the holidays, when many people travel to visit family and friends. The roads are packed with cars and the airports are packed with passengers. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and try to be patient with other drivers and the airline. Everyone wants a safe day, but the holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Be aware of this fact and don’t be the catalyst that drives someone to lash out.
Here are 12 travel safety tips that will help you stay safe!
- Research and read up on any type of travel restrictions that may exist where you plan to go. Be aware of travel alerts or travel warnings related to the region or country you intend to visit. Check with the US Department of State to see if there is anything you should be aware of. You should also research and obtain contact details for the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the country or region you are visiting. In addition, it is a good idea to consult your local emergency management agency and the American Red Cross on the likelihood of different emergencies that could occur in your area or in areas where you visit frequently.
- When traveling to other countries, keep in mind that some may have comfortable personal space distances defined differently from your home country. Do your research before you travel so that you don’t make a simple gesture or physical contact that has a very different meaning for the people of the country you are visiting.
- Depending on where you are going and the time of year is another thing to consider. The weather can cause various safety concerns when hiking, swimming or biking in the summer or just walking around when conditions become slippery and slippery due to rain, snow or ice. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
- Take your time and learn about the area so that you can feel comfortable with where you are going as well as the surrounding area. Look for it on maps (Google earth or Google maps is ideal for this!) and see your surroundings. Discover natural land formations like rivers, forests and mountains. Also note where man-made structures such as major highways, shopping malls, and apartment complexes are located. It is important to familiarize yourself with the region in which you are traveling. This way you know where there are man-made and natural barriers that could be important in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist act nearby.
- You won’t just be walking around. There is a good chance that you also use other means of transport such as cars, trains and boats. Each presents a unique set of security challenges. Keep your eyes in front of you and watch out for other vehicles – on the road or on the water. There are a lot of distracted drivers – don’t assume they see you. Be careful not to hurt yourself. Watch out for dangers wherever you are.
- You should be aware of the specific health issues that might exist in the country you are visiting. Some may require you to receive special vaccines before you are allowed to enter the country. This means that you may be exposed to threats to your health that are not present in your home country. If you take medications and travel with them, get a note from your doctor about the medication, the dosage, how long it is prescribed for, and what it is used for. Keep this with you and with the medicine at all times. Some medications may not be legal in the country you are visiting, so do the smart thing and plan ahead.
- Another area that you want to look at is health insurance coverage. Many domestic insurance plans cannot be used abroad, requiring you to purchase health insurance while traveling. Having it can be a lifesaver if you need to seek medical treatment abroad. It can also help if you need to be medically evacuated to the United States. The price for this blanket is modest, but could prove essential if you need it. Plan ahead so that if you need coverage, get it! It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
- Don’t assume buildings in other countries have fire alarms, fire escapes, or fire departments as good as you are used to. Some may be better, but some may be worse or none at all. Familiarize yourself with this aspect when traveling abroad and know your exits and escape routes.
- Remember, you are more vulnerable when you travel outside of your home territory, anywhere. Once you leave your comfort zone and have to deal with new cultures and ways of doing things, you are at a distinct disadvantage compared to those who live and work in the area. Take the time to learn the local customs so that you don’t find yourself in an embarrassing or dangerous situation that could have been avoided if you had better understood what was going on.
- Be more vigilant at night and stay in well-lit, populated areas when traveling. Avoid alleys, dark streets, low visibility areas, and places where someone might be hiding.
- Make sure you have a valid passport and that you get any visas you may need while traveling. Make copies of all travel documents, including your passport and visas, and keep them in a safe place, apart from the original documents.
- Know the equivalent of 911 in any country you visit and learn to say “help me” in the language of the country you are visiting.
These travel safety tips are a great way to start your trip. Stay alert and more aware than ever when you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment and especially when you leave your home country. Do your research ahead of time and make careful security preparations before you even pack your bags!