No matter where your travel takes you, it is important to be vigilant with regard to 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. Roads are packed with cars, and 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 to have 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 makes someone snap or lash out.
The following are 12 Travel Safety Tips that will help keep you safe!
- Research and read up on any type of travel restrictions that may exist where you are planning on going. Be aware of any travel alerts or travel warnings related to the region or country you intend to visit. Check with the US State Department to see if there is anything that you should be aware of. You should also look up and get the contact information about the US Embassy or US Consulate in the country or region that you are visiting. In addition, it is a good idea to consult with your local emergency management agency and the American Red Cross about the likelihood of different emergencies that could occur in your local area or the areas you travel to frequently.
- When traveling to other countries, keep in mind that some may have differently defined comfortable personal space distances than your home country. Research this before traveling so that you don’t make a simple gesture or make physical contact that has a vastly different meaning to the people of the country you are going to.
- Depending upon where you are going and the time of year is another thing to consider. Weather can cause a variety of safety concerns when you are hiking, swimming or biking in the summer to simply walking around when conditions become slick and slippery from rain, snow or ice. Allocate additional time to get to your destination.
- Take your time and learn the area so that you can feel comfortable with where you are traveling to as well as the surrounding area. Look it up on maps (Google Earth or Google Maps is great for this!) and see what is around you. Check out naturally occurring 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 area in which you are traveling. This way you know where both man-made as well as natural barriers exist that could be significant in case a natural disaster or act of terrorism occurs nearby.
- You won’t be just walking around. Chances are you will also use some other forms of transportation such as cars, trains and boats. Each one presents a unique set of safety challenges. Keep your eyes in front of you and watch out for other traffic – on the road or on the water. There are many distracted drivers out there – don’t assume that they see you. Be alert so that you don’t get hurt. Watch out for hazards no matter where you are.
- You need to be aware of any specific health challenges that could exist in the country you are visiting. Some may require that you receive special immunizations before you are allowed into 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 medicine is, the dosage, prescription duration, and what it is for. Keep this with you and with the medication 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 look into is health insurance coverage. Many domestic insurance plans cannot be used overseas, requiring you to purchase travel health insurance. Having it can be a literal life-saver in the event that you have to get medical treatment overseas. It can also help if you need to be medically evacuated back to the United States. The price for this coverage is modest, but could end up being 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.
- Do not 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 some may be worse or non-existent. Become familiar with this aspect when traveling abroad and know your exits and evacuation routes.
- Remember that you are more vulnerable when traveling outside your own home territory – wherever that may be. Once you leave your comfort zone and have to deal with new cultures and ways of doing things, you are at a distinct disadvantage to those who live and work in the area. Take time to learn local customs so you do not find yourself in an awkward or dangerous situation that may have been prevented if you understood what was going on more clearly.
- Be more aware at night and stick to well-lit, populated areas when traveling. Avoid alleys, dark streets, areas with poor visibility and places where someone could hide.
- Make sure that you have a valid passport and that you get any visas that you may need when 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 how to say “help me” in the country’s language you are traveling to.
These safety tips for travelers are a good way to kick off your trip. Remain vigilant and more aware than ever when you are in unfamiliar surroundings and especially when leaving your home country. Research things ahead of time and make prudent safety preparations before you even pack!