Whether you’re new to travelling or have been hopping around the world for years, safety is always a concern.
How to protect yourself while travelling
If you’re a veteran traveller – chances are that you’ve experienced, or at least witnessed, some sort of crime, such as pick-pocketing or theft. If you’re new to travel you’ll have likely heard second-hand stories of just how common these occurrences can be.
We’re not trying to steer you away from travel – far from it. But the reality of exploring more and more places is one that often comes with the need to increase your self-awareness.
Thankfully, if you take the time to prepare yourself, you can help protect yourself while travelling – minimising both the risk of danger and the opportunity of theft.
1. Travel insurance
Travel insurance is a must for any traveller and there are many different options to choose from.
You can purchase strictly medical travel insurance, or if you want to pay more you can begin to include coverage that also includes trip cancellation or interruption, as well as comprehensive coverage that will expand to cover personal belongings and possessions.
It is important to become familiar with the coverage you choose, so you are aware of what it does and does not cover. There will also likely be a deductible, so make sure you factor this in when choosing a plan.
One other thing to consider is that depending on where you wish to travel to, there are certain countries that are not covered by insurance due to safety concerns. It is important to check this ahead of time to make sure your coverage works for the destinations you are planning to visit.
2. Do your research
When booking your trip, make sure to do a little research ahead of time on areas to avoid.
I had a friend from New Zealand come to visit Canada, and it never occurred to me that she wouldn’t know to do this. I made a point of telling her all the things she should see and do while in the country, but as it turns out she’d booked herself a hotel on East Hastings Street in Vancouver – one of the worst neighbourhoods in Canada.
Before embarking on your trip do a little reading to ensure that you don’t stray into a disreputable or potentially dangerous area.
3. Keep money in multiple places
Keeping your money and credit cards in multiple places means that if you are robbed or have your purse/wallet stolen you will still have money and access to cash.
Depending on where you are, getting a replacement card can be a real hassle! I got mugged once in Costa Rica and had followed this advice, which allowed me to take the cash out of one pocket, throw it as far as I could away from myself, and then run when my mugger went to grab it.
It is also smart to have an emergency credit card, which you can keep safely tucked away from your other spending money.
4. Be watchful
Keep a close eye on your surroundings. Walking down the street looking at a map or your cell phone can make you an easy target.
Be sure to keep your eyes (or – even better – your hands) on your purse or wallet at all times. Don’t leave your day bags lying next to you, as this gives thieves an opportunity to scoop them up while walking by. Even phones are easy to grab, particularly if you are on a bus or train where someone can simply hop off straight after.
Be aware of what is going on around you, and keep a watchful eye on your belongings.
5. Know when to splurge
Sometimes when backpacking, the cheapest option is most definitely not the safest option.
While a lot of times this won’t be an issue, do your research. In certain legs of your trip, it might be better to spend the money on a room in a nicer area, or taking a reputable transit option rather than the cheaper version. This is also true when booking flights in certain areas of the world.
If you research online you can find out which airlines are rated low when it comes to safety purposes, often having old, unreliable planes and little training for pilots.
6. Don’t be afraid to be a skeptic
While there are plenty of kind, caring individuals out there, there are also a lot of scam artists.
While it is fine to be polite and friendly, just make sure you keep up a healthy amount of scepticism to protect yourself while travelling. Trust takes a while to earn, so no matter how trustworthy someone might seem it’s best to at least initially consider they may not have your best interests at heart.
There are also particular scams that are popular in certain countries or areas, so if you do your research ahead of time you can help prevent these from happening to you!
7. Trust your instincts
Above all, trust your instincts! If you have a bad feeling about a certain someone or situation, you’re probably right.
Nothing is worse than going against what your brain is telling you and then regretting it afterwards.
Think about what you’re doing and if something doesn’t feel right to you, or doesn’t seem to add up, then it’s probably best to avoid it.
How to protect yourself while travelling
Travelling can be an enriching and rewarding experience, but it can also be scary.
For some people, the thought of potential risks and dangers is enough to put them off travel entirely. We hope that after reading this article that you will have a better idea of how to prepare yourself and reduce the risks associated with travelling, and feel more comfortable about embracing adventure!
There are many wonderful people and countries out there to meet and see, and as long as you take the steps to protect yourself there is no reason why you can’t have a safe, stress-free, trip!