Travel Tips India – Safety Comes First

India ranks high as an intriguing tourist destination with lots to offer its visitors. Think for instance of the wonderful Hindu temples, the Taj Mahal, and the great scenery too. India has a rich and fascinating culture, and thousands of tourists are eager to learn more about the country each year. Does that include you?

Unfortunately, like everywhere else in the world, India is not without its problems. Unfortunately, there is also crime, disease, and even environmental hazards. Any one or all of these could ruin a holiday for an unprepared traveler. The following tips should help you stay safe and avoid illness or injury during your holiday.

Get Your Jabs!

The last thing vacationers want is to get sick during their vacation. But unfortunately, there are lots of serious diseases in India that are less common in other parts of the world. Diseases such as meningitis, dengue fever, dysentery, chorea, hepatitis, malaria, and typhoid are quite common in India. If you are visiting from the UK, Canada, or the United States you will not need a vaccination certificate to enter the country, but visitors from other parts of the world will need to show one. No matter where you are traveling from, it is wise to consult your doctor before you go and make sure you are up to date on all your vaccinations ‘ these are serious illnesses, and it is not worth taking any risks.

Mosquitoes pose a significant threat. They can spread diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, so you should take along some mosquito spray and nets as a little extra protection.

Watch What You Eat

While in India you should avoid raw vegetables and meats such as pork. Be wary of eating anything from a street vendors, and make sure that all your food is cooked thoroughly.

Don’t drink water unless it is bottled water ‘ avoid ice cubes too, unless you know they were made from bottled water. If you cannot avoid tap water, then use some water purification tablets before you drink it. These usually contain iodine or chlorine, and you should try not to use too many of them, but it is better to purify the water than to drink it as is.

Be Careful of The Sun!

India is very warm, especially from March until May. Perhaps you plan to travel during the hotter months. If so, then be sure to drink lots of water (preferably bottled water), and make full use of the shade when you can. Also, wear sunscreen and re-apply it frequently. Some people even carry a parasol around with them to keep the worst of the sun off them during the day.

Enjoy Your Holiday

It may seem boring to have to worry about vaccinations and sun cream, etc, but it is better to spend a few minutes making sure you are protected, than to get sick while you are on holiday. Sunburn or heat stroke at the start of a trip can leave you unable to have any fun for the entire stay, and illnesses like meningitis can be fatal.

Taking a few simple precautions before you go on your trip, can make a huge difference. It will mean that you can spend your time in India learning about the country, visiting some classic landmarks, and getting some spectacular photographs for your holiday collection. And isn’t that what you want.

Solo Female Travel in Latin America – Safety Tips For Women

A common question seen on many travel forums is “how safe is it to travel to X (one on the Latin American countries) as a solo female traveller?” It is fully understandable why travelling alone to Latin America can seem an intimidating prospect, particularly if you are a woman. However, women who have already been to this region of the world know there is no need to post this type of question. All of the countries in Central and South America are generally safe to visit as a solo female traveller. There are, however, some areas that pose a risk and these should be avoided.

Many of the large cities in Latin America have areas that aren’t particularly desirable and you should stick to the main tourist or modern parts of these cities if you visit them. This includes all of the major cities in Central America (i.e. Belize City, Guatemala City, Managua, Mexico City, Panama City, San Jose, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa). There are also certain parts of South American cities that should be avoided such as Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Caracas in Venezuela. As with the large cities in Central America, stick to the touristy areas and you’ll be fine. You should also take care when visiting particular areas of certain countries such as in Colombia and Venezuela. For example, it isn’t a good idea to hang around the border regions of Colombia or travel to obscure, off the beaten track destinations. Although Colombia and Venezuela get some bad press they are both relatively safe to visit if you stick to the top tourist destinations mentioned in reputable travel guides. If somewhere is mentioned in a reputable guidebook, it is almost certainly safe to visit.

This leads to an important point in the discussion. It is very easy to get paranoid about visiting certain countries and cities but this is totally unwarranted. Remember, it’s only certain parts of these countries and cities that are best avoided, just as certain parts of cities in Europe or North America are best avoided. In fact, travelling around most of Latin America is far safer, and more pleasant, than travelling around many parts of Europe or North America. Additionally, as Susan Griffith rightly points out in ‘Travelling Solo as a Woman in Asia’ “there is a pernicious mythology surrounding the lone female traveller, whether it be as a hitchhiker around Britain or a traveller in Southeast Asia. Many people instantly exaggerate the perils and dwell on a single woman’s vulnerability. Often this doom-ridden response is just an excuse for their own timidity of spirit.” Don’t get paranoid: the countries of Latin America are no more dangerous than many other countries in this world, and in reality you are more likely to encounter problems in some European countries or North American states.

Referring back to the classic question seen on travel forums (i.e. how safe is it to travel to X as a solo female traveller) it is worth mentioning the responsibilities and abilities of the individual. Safety is inherently linked to knowledge and experience. Whenever planning a trip to Latin America or anywhere else in the world, it is absolutely essential you do your research. Try and find out as much information as you can about the country or countries you wish to visit. Travel guides such as those produced by Lonely Planet and Footprint will help you decide which places you want to visit and those you might want or should avoid. The internet is also an invaluable source of information and there are many websites dedicated to the concerns of solo female travellers. We often hear people described as being ‘streetwise;’ if the definition was applied to travel rather than the urban environment, some travellers could be easily be labelled as ‘travelwise’ (i.e. having the shrewd awareness, experience, and resourcefulness needed for survival in a difficult, often dangerous overseas environment). Travel experience (particularly in the third world) goes a long way in ensuring safety. This is because people with extensive travel experience evaluate risk more effectively and size up situations more successfully. Thus, it’s fair to say that overall safety is partly dependent on the qualifications (age, knowledge and experience) of the person posing the question.

To a large degree safety is simply a case of being sensible and staying alert. For example, flaunting items such as expensive cameras, jewellery, or mobile phones is likely to attract opportunist thieves. Similarly, putting your day pack on the luggage rack of a public bus rather than keeping it on your lap or by your feet is asking for trouble. The key message here is don’t take any unnecessary risks. You might fancy a late paddle on Copacabana beach (Rio de Janeiro) but any guidebook will tell you not to visit this area after dark. You might want to hit the bars and clubs in Quito but leave your valuables in your hotel. You might want to get drunk in the nearest disco but don’t try walking back to your hotel late at night. It’s all a matter of common sense really.

The main issue for solo female travellers is the threat of sexual harassment from local men and even male travellers. While male travellers might be a problem on occasions, you need to be aware of the culture differences between Latin American men and those from your own country. Machismo attitudes are fairly widespread among Latin American men and it is advisable to follow local practice and take your cues (i.e. how do local women deal with prolonged eye contact, etc) from local woman if you don’t want to be the object of curiosity. Appropriate dress and conduct will attract less unwanted attention from the local men. It is a sad fact that many local men view Western women as promiscuous. This impression is largely due to how some women dress. Acting drunk and a bit wild is also bound to create the sort of interest you are trying to avoid. You need to balance your sense of adventure with an awareness of cultural differences. It is also important that you listen to and trust your instincts. If you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable as a woman, you need to follow your instincts and leave.

Most countries in Latin America are well established on the ‘gringo trail,’ hence, there will always be opportunities to hook up with other travellers. This will greatly reduce any hassle you might get. This should not deter any woman from travelling alone as this can be a rewarding and empowering experience. There is probably nothing more satisfying to a solo female traveller than knowing she forged her own path.

While it’s true that there are specific concerns for female travellers, the risks that are out there shouldn’t stop you from hitting the road. There are thousands of solo female travellers currently exploring Latin America and you could be one of them.

Top 12 Travel Safety Tips That Will Prepare You For a Safe & Successful Trip

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!