Travel is eye opening, fun, exciting, and can completely change your perspective on life. Like most good things, exploring the world doesn't come without its risks. In today's age between identity theft and terrorism, taking precautions before and during your travels is essential. I have listed 8 travel safety tips and precautions I take before every single trip. These safety tips for travel will ensure you have the best trip possible while also preparing for any negative situation you might encounter while abroad.
Continue reading travel safety tips - what to do before departure or save it for later!
Travel safety tips - WHAT TO DO BEFORE DEPARTURE
1. View Travel Advisories
- Exercise normal caution
- Exercise increased caution
- Reconsider travel
- Do not travel
I rarely travel to a destination above a level 2. The website lets you browse by country and explains the reasoning behind each country’s categorization. You will find in-depth information on safety risks and recent events. Specific regions to avoid and areas to be careful of are also listed along with color coded maps. This is one of the first travel safety tips you should follow when planning a trip.
2. Enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)
Once you know your travel plans, the next travel safety tip is to enroll in STEP. STEP allows U.S. citizens to document their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It’s extremely easy and straight forward to enroll and log your upcoming travels. Not only will the U.S. know where you are in an emergency situation, but you will also receive emails on updates, events, strikes, etc., for the countries you will be visiting. If you, like me, are the travel planner of the group, be sure to enroll your family members or send them instructions so every person on the trip is accounted for in the system. This travel safety tip really is a must in case some unforeseen event happens and is worth the 5 minutes it will take to enroll.
See my other travel tips
3. Copies of passports and credit cards
Take pictures of your passports, IDs, credit cards, and health insurance cards. Save these where you can easily access them like your email or an online cloud like Dropbox or OneDrive. Also send these to a family member or close friend. Makes copies of these same documents and take them with you on your trip and store them in a different place than the originals. I typically make two copies and will put one set in the safe and one set hidden in my bags.
Some of these travel safety tips end up coming in handy unexpectedly. This one has saved me many times when I needed to give my passport number when getting VAT refund papers while shopping.
4. Email itineraries and travel documents to a relative or friend
While you are sending copies of your documents to a family member or close friend, include a copy of your itinerary. If you are one to travel with minimal plans at least send them your hotel confirmations so they know where you are on what dates. Out of all the travel safety tips this one takes the least amount of time and therefore you have no excuse not to do it.
5. Clear out your wallet
Don’t take your entire wallet with all your credit cards. Theft is rampant in many tourist cities and identity theft is most common from stolen wallets. Take only what you need to not only downsize your wallet, but to also ease the headache of having to cancel every single credit card you own in case you are a victim of theft. I usually take two debit cards for ATM transactions and two credit cards (so I have a backup in case one decides to give me issues). Don’t forget to inform your credit card companies of your travels before you leave!
*Another one of my travel safety tips I ALWAYS use is leaving one of each card behind. Since I take two credit and two debit cards I'll leave one of each in the hotel safe. That way if my wallet gets stolen I still have a way to get money and pay for things.
6. Abstain from oversharing on social media
This travel safety tip is extremely hard in today’s age of social media, Instagram, and Facebook (especially for bloggers like me). I know you want to let the whole world know you just booked a trip to Germany over Christmas on Instagram or publish live videos or pictures of the awesome hotel you just checked-in to. Try to look at this from the eyes of a potential wrong doer. Telling the world when you will be gone and for how long opens the window to having your home broken into. Publishing where you are staying makes you easy to find in a city you don’t know. Try to wait to publish these things once you have moved on to the next destination or city.
7. Research how to fit in
To avoid sticking out as a tourist and a potential victim of theft or worse, research how to fit in. Many guidebooks will include how to dress or what to avoid. Your attire isn’t the only way to stick out (or hopefully blend in). One sure way to scream “I’m an American tourist” is to talk loudly, especially in public places.
Europeans will often say they can spot an American tourist the moment they open their mouth, and it’s not the language they are talking about. Try to match the volume around you. Ever notice how in many European cities a restaurant can be crowded with people, but the noise level is surprisingly low?
Taking the subway or metro? Observe and mimic how the locals talk very quietly to each other and are mindful of their volume. This is one of the travel safety tips that will also give you better experience while traveling since you won't immediately be labeled as "another annoying American tourist" and treated accordingly.
8. Know areas and places to avoid
If you read your guidebook front to back, chances are it will mention areas to avoid in general or to stay away from after dark. If not, do a quick Google search on “areas to avoid in X city” or “unsafe areas in X city”. No city is 100% safe and it’s good to know in advance what neighborhoods or streets to be careful of. If you forget to do this travel safety tip before you leave or don't trust your research just ask the front desk or concierge at your hotel.
See my other Travel tips
Are you a frequent traveler with some travel safety tips of your own to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, I earn a small commission. This will never cost you extra and the income goes to keeping this site updated and free for everyone!