There are some basic things everyone should know about travel safety abroad.
From learning common scams in highly touristy places to tricks you can use to hide your money, some essential travel safety tips will help you stay safe, protect your money and belongings and enjoy your trip.
You don’t want the wrong kind of memories from your holiday…
The truth is we’re more vulnerable when we travel.
It’s easy to get lost or confused when you don’t know the local language and customs. It makes us easy targets for scammers and thieves.
The following travel safety tips are all very easy to implement and will help make sure nobody ruins your vacation 🙂
Whether you’re travelling alone or with other people, and whether you’re going on a quick holiday or a long trip, it’s important to take some simple precautions.
Here’s How You Can Stay Safe When You Travel
Hiding Your Money
Always make sure you have your money and credit cards hidden in different places.
Splitting up your money is a very basic vacation safety tip that every traveller should know.
For example, take some of the money and one credit card in your wallet with you and leave more cash and an extra credit card in your hotel safe (if it’s reliable).
While you’re on the move, hide the extra cash in your backpack or suitcase or on your body.
You’ll be glad you kept this emergency money and bank card hidden, in case you get robbed or some pickpocket finds his way to your wallet somehow.
There are all sorts of creative ways to hide your extra cash, for example:
1. Inside a chapstick container.
2. Using an anti-theft belt.
3. In a scarf with a secret pocket.
4. Inside a wrist wallet.
5. In hidden pockets you sew into your clothing in advance.
6. In an anti theft waist wallet.
7. In a hidden pocket in your bag.
Check out this video for some more cool ideas:
If you’re travelling to a country where you know there’s a high risk of getting robbed on the street, bring a fake wallet with you.
Use a normal wallet, put very little money in it and some old cards you don’t need anymore.
If you get robbed, this is the wallet you’ll hand over, while your money and cards stay safe.
Keep Your Valuables Safe
This travel safety tip seems obvious, but is easy to overlook.
In general, you want to leave your valuables at home when you travel. However, you will obviously want to take your phone with you and sometimes camera gear and a laptop as well.
So how do you keep all of these from getting stolen?
Take a Padlock with You
It’s small in size and inexpensive, but can be super useful. If you sleep in a hostel, it’s a must-have.
Luggage Safety Cable
Use a lightweight luggage cable to secure your bags on bus and train rides, using any lock.
It’s a very compact travel accessory to take with you.
If you fall asleep on a bus, or store your luggage on the train and can’t watch it throughout the ride, this sturdy cable will help deter thieves from stealing your luggage.
Anti Theft Bags & Hidden Pockets
Some travel packs and day packs come with hidden pockets that are perfect for hiding money, cards, keys etc.
That’s enough for my needs when I travel, but if you want to be extra careful, or if you’re going to places that are especially notorious for crime against tourists, consider getting an anti theft bag.
Anti-theft bags come in many styles and sizes, from purses to laptop bags.
They look just like normal bags, but have quite a few safety features.
When you choose yours, make sure it has room for all the valuables you intend to take with you on your trip.
The safety features you should look for in an anti-theft bag are:
- Slash-resistant materials (both body and shoulder straps)
- Locking compartments / zippers
- RFID blocking card and passport slots
- Safety cable to secure your bag to chairs etc.
- Secret pockets that are hard to reach.
Anti-theft bags come in different sizes and designs.
If you’re going to spend time in cities that are notorious for pickpockets, you want an anti-theft daypack to minimise the risk.
You can also find smaller anti-theft bags.
If you want to protect your carry-on luggage, Craghoppers make cabin-friendly wheeled luggage that has all the anti-theft features you need.
As an added bonus, it is made of recycled materials.
Research Your Destination To Stay Safe
When you read about your destination, also check the pickpocket situation there.
Some places are notorious for that, while in other you just need to use common sense precautions.
Protect Yourself and Stay Safe When You Go Online
Hiding your physical credit card is important, but what if your credit card details get stolen by hackers while you’re online?
Using open WiFi networks can put you at risk, as your privacy may be compromised.
You want to monitor your credit card reports on a regular basis when you travel and check for any suspicious activity.
Identity theft can cause huge problems, especially when you travel.
Hackers can access not just your credit card details, but your email password, PayPal password and so on.
Digital nomads or business travellers are particularly vulnerable, as they tend to spend more time online.
However, any kind of traveller is at risk. Using WiFi at airports, hotels, train stations etc. is very common.
The solution to all that is VPN (virtual private network).
VPN encrypts your data, so whenever you use public WiFi you will no longer have to worry about whether or not it’s secure.
You can download a VPN app for your phone and VPN software for your laptop for a small fee and stay safe.
For a simple explanation about VPN and its uses, check out this guide.
Many companies provide VPN services. Some are free, but the free ones tens to have all sorts of limitations. The paid VPN services often have deep discounts, so you never really pay the full price for them.
The leading VPN services are:
- Nord VPN – A well-known and trustworthy service that’s also very affordable.
- ExpressVPN – Another trusted service that’s also user-friendly.
- CyberGhost VPN – Protects up to 7 devices with a great user interface.
Your Most Important Documents
Your passport, driver’s licence, ID card (if you have one) and travel insurance are your most important documents you carry around with you when you travel.
Losing them or having them stolen will cause you a lot of hassle and can ruin an otherwise great holiday…
So one of the most basic holiday travel tips to remember is: Make copies of your important documents.
First, you want to scan them or take a picture with your phone.
I suggest you keep the files in the cloud so you can access them from any device (I personally use Dropbox and make those files available offline).
Second, print out hard copies of those documents, and keep them in a hidden compartment in you suitcase or backpack.
Learn about Common Travel Scams
Being tricked by an experienced con-artist is the last thing you want to experience when on vacation.
There are so many creative travel scams on the street, at hotels, restaurants, taxis and so on.
Trained scammers know what they’re doing and they know how to spot an innocent tourist.
The easiest way to avoid a nasty surprise is by doing some online research before you go on your trip.
I have travelled extensively and have never been tricked, simply because I read about my destinations in advance.
Some countries or cities present a higher risk than others and you want to know as much as you can about the local scam and cons.
It’s best to learn from other tourists’ experience.
Do a search for the name of your destination and “travel scams” and read through the search results to learn about the common ones. There are quite a few good videos online as well, such as this one:
Also have a look at Wikitravel or Wikivoyage under the “Stay Safe” section, where you’ll find some good local advice.
It covers common scams, as well as places to avoid when you travel alone or at night.
Emergency Information Safety Tips
There are two simple safety tips about emergency info that you want to follow.
Take Note of Basic Emergency Info for Your Destination in Advance
This safety tip is so easy to implement when you’re at home and relaxed.
When you’re in trouble abroad, stressing out or feeling lost, it would be harder to find these details.
All you need to do is search and write down:
- What number do you call if you need the police?
- How do you call an ambulance?
- What’s the address and phone number of your country’s embassy?
Keep this info on a piece of paper and on your phone.
Keep a Note with Your Own Details and Your Emergency Contact
In case you have to go to hospital, lose your luggage or in some other emergency, it would be useful to have these details written down:
- Your name, phone number and email address.
- Your emergency contact (family member or friend you trust): Their name, phone number and email address.
- Any special medical conditions you have, e.g. allergies.
- Details regarding your travel insurance.
It’s pretty trivial. You need travel medical insurance. If something happens to you or your belongings, you’ll be covered.
I like to relax when I travel, so I always travel with insurance. Although I’ve never had to actually use it, it’s a relief to know that it’s there.
Email your Itinerary To Your Family or Friends
This safety tip is especially important if you’re travelling alone.
You want to send your itinerary, including flight and accommodation details, to someone you can rely on. It could be a family member or a friend or several people.
It’s also a good idea to contact people back home on a regular basis when you travel.
This way, in case something happens and they don’t hear from you and can’t reach you, they’ll take action.
I know for some people travelling solo is about having some time to themselves and unplugging from every day life.
That’s great, but do take these basic steps that require minimal effort just to be on the safe side.