Going on holiday should be one of the most exciting times of the year since, for most of us, it will be the only time we get to ourselves without having to worry about work, school, paying taxes and remembering to pick up milk before heading home. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t always remain vigilant and protect yourself from anything that might happen unexpectedly on your trip into an unknown location. The following is a quick list of some of the most fundamental safety tips that will help anyone travelling to a new place.
- 1. Know your surroundings
Travelling to a new country or city is great – allowing you to expand your horizons and meet new people. But along with that comes the fact that you will be out of your comfort zone. In order to avoid any one of a dozen things that might happen to you as a result of being in a new place, do a little bit of research on it before even arriving. Check where you’ll be staying; find out where the nearest police station is, where your country’s Embassy is, and what the easiest way will be to get around. Once you have that down, even if something were to happen, at least you have a way of getting help.
- 2. Keep your valuable documents on you at all times
One of the most important things to remember when travelling to a new country is that you are only a visitor, and as such, you will need to be able to prove that you have permission to be there at any given time. If something happens to your accommodation (whether it’s a hotel, a backpackers lodge, a train compartment, etc) and your valuables are lost, your travel insurance will most likely cover anything that is lost, except your passport and visa. Make sure to carry them safely on your person at all times, or find out whether it will be possible to use certified copies as valid identification, that way you won’t have to risk losing the real ones should something happen.
- 3. Get travel insurance!
As mentioned above, any valuables you happen to have with you (like laptops, cameras, cellphones, and even in some cases currency) will be covered by insurance if you are willing to pay for the coverage. This will allow you to get on with enjoying your holiday without having to worry about what will happen to your possessions – but this does not give you an excuse to treat your possessions as if you were at home, by leaving them lying around in public. Always keep your valuables safely with you or locked up in a place where you are the only one with access.
- 4. Take advice from experts, not locals
If you are travelling around and decide to try find out where the best spots are for sight-seeing, ask the concierge or clerk at your hotel, at an information kiosk, or at your embassy. Sure, asking locals will allow you to interact with them and perhaps make new friends, but you never know if the person you are approaching is interested in helping you or if they are willing to scam off an inexperienced tourist. Make sure you are aware of all kinds of scams that are known to be happening in the area, and even if a situation seems to be legitimate, be as careful as you can when dealing with locals. Make sure you don’t make yourself identifiable as an easy target by flashing your expensive camera, your money and wallet, or openly advertising that you are a tourist, because there is always at least one person who will know how to take advantage of that.
- 5. Get appropriate vaccinations, and be cautious with local cuisine
Most countries require proof of vaccination if there is a risk in their area (or yours, depending on where you’re travelling from) of any contagious disease. It is always a good idea to get vaccinated for the regular set of risky infections anyway, such as flu, TB, malaria, yellow fever, etc. Also, when travelling to a new country, everyone wants to experience the local culture as much as possible, and usually that means indulging in the local food. If you’re travelling to France, and your idea of experiencing the culture is sitting at a quaint bistro, you have nothing to worry about. However, travelling to China, India, South Africa, and many other Asian or African countries have traditional foods that aren’t always served from kitchens, and are sometimes prepared for you on an open fire in a busy market for suspiciously low prices. I’m not saying that this kind of food is necessarily bad – in fact, a lot of it is amazing, but you can never be too careful. Again, if you have done your research and know what to look out for, you will be able to navigate this aspect without any disruptions, but always try stay on the safe side if you don’t want to risk getting sick.
- 6. Keep multiple sources of currency
It is always a good idea to have multiple options when it comes to available money in a foreign country. Best-case scenario: you are able to spend it all happily without a hitch. Worst-case scenario: your wallet and/or money pouch gets stolen. If you decided to keep all your money in one place, thinking it will be safe since its so close to you, you might have a bad time. Keeping some of your money separate means you have a better chance of at least having the option to do something about it should something happen to your other source of currency.