TRAVEL SAFETY (PART 1 OF 2): WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
In the hustle-bustle, multi-tasking, tethered-to-our-cell phone world we live in, getting away from it all is more important than ever. It’s in our best interest to take time off for ourselves to reduce our stress levels and relax, refresh, and recharge. It allows us to come back to work with renewed energy and spirit. It’s amazing what a simple change of scenery can do.
When we finally do get away, safety issues are the last thing we want to think about. But travel safety is an important consideration. It entails a lot more than just locking your hotel room door.
Before you go on your next trip, ask yourself the following questions. The answers will help you plan a trip that is worry-free and enjoyable.
Are you traveling SOLO or with OTHERS?
Traveling by yourself? Great! I travel alone from time-to-time and love it. Solo travel offers you a lot of freedom. You can do what you want, when you want, and for as long as you want. Time alone can be good for the soul. However, solo travel means you’ll have to be more careful and aware of your surroundings.
Traveling with family, friends, or your significant other? Traveling with others can be a lot of fun. There’s also safety in numbers. Be sure you and your travel companion(s) develop a plan for what you’ll do if you get separated from each other.
WHERE are you going?
The safety of your destination is an important factor to consider. Before you finalize your travel plans, consult governmental sources (such as the U.S. Department of State) for travel alerts and if there are any alerts, read them carefully. There are different levels of alerts and although there may be one for your destination country, it may only apply to a small area. For example, there may be political protest in the capital city of a given country, but the beaches or mountains you plan to visit are unaffected. Exercise caution, but also use your own judgment.
WHEN are you going?
Heading to a location during an especially busy time of year? Locations that are especially popular with tourists are also popular with pickpockets and other unsavory characters. Being aware of your surroundings and your possessions will be especially important.
WHAT are you bringing?
Jewelry and Accessories. Although it may be tempting to bring that expensive watch or your blingiest jewelry to wear for a night on the town, they are better left at home. Flashy jewelry and accessories can attract unwanted attention.
Case in point: Kim Kardashian, an American celebrity, was bound, gagged, and robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room in 2018 because she constantly posted photos of herself dripping with diamonds and other gems on her social media accounts. These posts caught the attention of the robbers who concocted the plan and stole $11 million worth of jewelry.
Identification and Credit Cards.
Has your wallet or purse even been lost or stolen? If it has, you know what a time-consuming pain in the butt it is to replace its contents.
To protect yourself, take some simple precautions.
• Take pictures of the front and back of your driver’s license and credit cards.
• Take pictures of the inside 2 pages of your passport (the ones with your photo and personal information).
• Save these photographs in a secure, password-protected environment online such as Evernote, Dropbox.com, or Box.com.
Why should you do this? So you’ll be able to access your personal information, debit/credit card account numbers (plus expiration dates and security codes), and customer service numbers should you need them. The copy of your headshot on your driver’s license or passport may also be used to help you verify your identity.
Driver’s License and Passport
If your driver’s license is lost or stolen, you may be able to order a replacement online, but it will take some time to receive. If your passport is lost or stolen and you’re traveling internationally, you may have trouble traveling between countries or returning home. You can visit your country’s embassy or consulate for a replacement. Having a digital copy of your passport may make it easier to get that replacement quickly.
Debit and Credit Cards
Before going on a trip where you may be using your debit and/or credit cards frequently, contact the issuing companies to alert them. If you don’t notify them of your travel plans, they may suspect fraud and freeze your account if your card activity looks unusual. Then, you’ll really have problems.
WHAT are your travel plans?
Regardless of where you’re headed, it’s a good idea to share your itinerary with someone else. Whenever I travel for more than a few days (whether I go alone or with my boyfriend), I always email my sister a copy of my itinerary including flight information (if I’ll be traveling by plane), lodging details, and the dates I’ll be at each destination. That way, my family will be able to reach me in case of emergency.
Hopefully, you learned a few new ways to protect yourself before you travel so you when you finally go on your trip, you can focus on relaxing and enjoying yourself.
Do YOU take any special safety precautions before you travel? Share in the Comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Stark, aka A Traveling Broad, is a travel writer and photographer who grew up and lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Through her blog, videos, social media accounts, she teaches aspiring travelers how to travel and explore without breaking the bank so they can start living the life they want to live – one that includes travel.