No matter where your trip takes you, it is important to be vigilant regarding your personal safety. It could be visiting friends outside the city, 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 full of cars, and the airports are full of passengers. Take enough time to reach your destination and try to be patient with other drivers and the airline. Everyone wants to have a safe day, but the holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Keep this fact in mind and don’t be the catalyst that causes someone to hit or attack.
The following are 12 travel safety tips to help you stay safe!
- Research and read about any kind 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 want to visit. Check with the United States Department of State to see if there is anything you should be aware of. You should also search and obtain contact information for the United States Embassy or Consulate in the country or region you are visiting. Also, it is a good idea to check with your local emergency management agency and American Red Cross about the likelihood of different emergencies that could occur in your local area or in areas you travel to frequently.
- When traveling to other countries, please note that some may have comfortable personal spatial distances defined differently than their home country. Investigate this before traveling so as not to make a simple gesture or make physical contact that has a very different meaning for the people of the country you are going to.
- Depending on where you are going and the time of year is another thing to consider. Weather can cause a variety of safety issues when you walk, swim, or bike in the summer to just walk when conditions become slippery and slippery from rain, snow, or ice. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Take your time and learn the area so you can be comfortable with where you are traveling and the surrounding area. Look it up on the maps (Google Earth or google maps it’s great for this!) and look at what’s around you. Take a look at natural landforms like rivers, forests and mountains. Also note where man-made structures are located, such as major highways, shopping malls, and apartment complexes. It is important to familiarize yourself with the area in which you travel. In this way, you know where there are both artificial and natural barriers that could be important in the event of a natural disaster or nearby act of terrorism.
- You won’t just be walking. You will likely also use other forms of transportation, 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 the rest of the traffic, on the road or in the water. There are a lot of distracted drivers out there, don’t assume they see you. Be alert not to hurt yourself. Beware of dangers no matter where you are.
- You should know the specific health challenges that may exist in the country you are visiting. Some may require that you receive special vaccinations before you are allowed to enter the country. This means that you may be exposed to threats to your health that do not exist in your home country. If you take any medications and will be traveling with them, get a note from your doctor that says what the medication is, the dosage, the duration of the prescription, and what it is for. Keep this with you and 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 you want to consider is health insurance coverage. Many national insurance plans cannot be used abroad, requiring you to purchase travel health insurance. Having it can be a literal lifesaver in case you have to get medical treatment abroad. It can also help if you need to be medically evacuated back to the United States. The price of this coverage is modest, but it could end up being essential if you need it. Plan ahead so 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 that buildings in other countries have fire alarms, fire escapes, or fire departments that are as capable as those you are used to. Some may be better, but others may be worse or non-existent. Familiarize yourself with this aspect when traveling abroad and learning about their evacuation routes and exits.
- Remember that you are most vulnerable when traveling outside of your own territory, wherever you are. Once you leave your comfort zone and have to deal with new cultures and ways of doing things, you are at a clear disadvantage for those who live and work in the area. Take the time to learn local customs so you don’t find yourself in an awkward or dangerous situation that could have been avoided if you understood what was happening more clearly.
- Be more aware at night and stay in well-lit populated areas when traveling. Avoid alleys, dark streets, poor visibility areas, and places where someone can hide.
- Make sure you have a valid passport and obtain the visas you may need when traveling. Make copies of all travel documents, including your passport and visas, and keep them in a safe place, separate from the original documents.
- Learn the equivalent of 911 in any country you visit and learn to say “help me” in the language of the country you are traveling to.
These safety tips for travelers are a good way to start your journey. Stay alert and more aware than ever when you are in an unfamiliar environment and especially when you leave your home country. Research things ahead of time and make prudent safety preparations before packing!