However adventurous a traveler you may be, it is always prudent to err on the side of caution. Although through travel, most people seek to achieve a sense of unadulterated liberation, it pays to be alert and have a list of don’ts. When it comes to international travel, people tend to let their guard down because of the sense of romance associated with each location.
Paris may be the city of love but is equally notorious for certain seedy areas of the Latin Quarter. Milan may be the fashion capital of the world, but has a tendency to attract scamsters in various forms, especially at busy tourist spots and train stations. Here is a list of things to ensure safe travel. Better safe than sorry.
There are a number of conmen and unsavory elements who are always on the lookout for potential naïve tourists. And as a tourist, it is easy to get conned. Believe me, it doesn’t take much. Contrary to our belief, conmen don not appear thug-like, they can be suave, youthful or appear in distress. Either way you find yourself parting with something valuable…sometimes all too willingly! Don’t fall for lines like – “I’ve lost my wallet and have no way to return home”. If you smell something fishy, walk on. Or ask the right questions. It also pays to know the average tariffs for transportation, accommodation, events, tips, etc, so that you are not charged outrageously high prices.
Research travel deals
Is there a deal screaming “All time low rates! Book Now!” Time for the red flag to go up. Investigate thoroughly before you fall for such scams. Sign deals through well-known travel agencies, because often, deals that seem too good to be true, turn out to be just that. Don’t find yourself in a rickety and musty old room that was advertised as an ‘Antique hotel’,
Make sure to stay in touch with ministry guidelines etc before planning a trip. Most governments offer safety advice and guidelines for their citizens and update them regularly. You do not want to be flouting any laws because of sheer ignorance. Check them before you plan a trip to that country. For example, here’s a link to the UK Government website. If you are planning to drive around, understand the rules of the road. You’d be surprised about the number of legal variants there are.
Avoid unsafe hotspots
Avoid unsafe neighborhoods in certain cities, like the plague! Each city has its own seemingly dark underbelly and seems to have its own timings of operation. At least be aware of the crime-ridden regions of each city that you visit and take all possible precautions. Don’t find accommodation in a high-crime area. Do your homework before booking.
One is good, but two’s even better. Before travelling make ‘C’ your favorite alphabet. Make copies of everything and keep a set of all your documents in a separate location.
Buy a safety pouch
Invest in a money belt, shoulder strap or safety pouch. Keep all your valuables, passport and credit cards in here. Pickpockets thrive in tourist towns and you do not want to be staring at the wrong end of the stick with a missing passport.
Some countries require vaccination shots before entry. Check with your local health department and read up on the risks and health hazards that a country might pose. Be sure to take out a travel health insurance policy.
Keep people informed
Make an accurate itinerary and keep at least of person informed of your whereabouts. Although you may embark on a journey to ‘find yourself’, it is prudent to let a confidant know of your whereabouts, in case they do need to ‘find you’.
Safe Solo travel
Don’t go trekking to parts unknown without a guide. Don’t stand out; try to blend in as much as possible. Wearing flashy clothes on solo travel is a no-no. Don’t showcase your bulky DSLR to the world. Put it away when not in use, because nothing spells out ‘tourist’ than a bulky camera.
Tia Jones is a Marketing & PR Consultant who loves all things Travel & Technology. She’s a blogger who contributes articles on Travel Tips, Technology and Grand Canyon Vacations for National Geographic’s ExploretheCanyon.com. Feel free to follow Tia on Twitter @GrandCanyonNGVC and like Grand Canyon National Geographic Visitor Center on Facebook.