Did you know that over 2,500 Australian passports were reported stolen overseas in 2015?
Other research found that 1 in 8 overseas travellers reported being robbed or scammed whilst on their travels at some point. Not to mention the over 200,000 travel insurance claims that Aussies make every year.
These are scary statistics, but they should make you aware of the risks and challenges associated with travelling overseas.
So if you are planning a trip in the near future, travel safety should be one of your top priorities.
This big list of travel safety tips can help you stay safe and happy – no matter where your journey takes you!
While it’s impossible to do away with risk entirely, these 37 tips will help make your trip safer.
Before You Leave
Before you leave for your trip, do the following things:
1. Make an itinerary and stick to it
An itinerary is a written plan that helps people within your group, and outside of it, understand where you will be at any given time.
You may choose to use an app like Tripit to build your itineray:
Sticking to this agenda helps people know where to find you if you were to go missing or be injured.
Make your plan as detailed as possible, including times, addresses and planned attractions, and leave a copy with someone close to you back home.
2. Travel with someone you trust
This goes back to the “buddy rule” most children were taught in elementary school.
There’s safety in numbers, and travelling with someone you trust is a great way to stay safe and secure during your trip.
Also, leave the contact information of your travelling companion with someone you know back home.
3. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is designed specifically to protect your health, well being and possessions while you’re in a foreign country.
While many travellers are unaware of this, most national insurance has limitations on overseas travel, and may not cover hospital bills incurred in a foreign country.
So get travel insurance before you set off.
To find the best rate you could use a service such as Compare The Market:
4. Learn basic first-aid
Basic first-aid is something that will benefit you wherever you go, but especially overseas.
Before you set off on your trip, take a basic first-aid course to ensure that you can tend to minor wounds of your own, or your traveling companion during the journey.
5. Get the appropriate vaccinations
Before you leave on your trip, check a site such as Travel Vax for information on the vaccinations you’ll need for travel in a given country.
Since some vaccines take days or weeks to be effective, be sure to plan a doctor’s visit in advance.
6. Find out about the country’s health system
While it’s a situation you never want to face, there’s a possibility that you’ll wind up needing health services in a foreign country. If this happens, you’ll be best off if you’ve learned about the country’s health system beforehand.
In addition to helping you make smarter health decisions, this will give you an idea of what to expect if you do wind up needing health services abroad.
7. Identify potential health or travel warnings
Travel warnings can tell you a lot about where is safe to travel and where is not so safe.
For up-to-the-date warnings, check the Australian government’s Smart Traveller website for breaking bulletins, health notices, and travel warnings.
If you’re a regular traveller you could even sign up for their updates bulletin, or download the phone app:
8. Research where your embassy is
Knowing how to get to your country’s embassy in the place you plan on travelling to will give you piece of mind that if anything does go wrong, you have someone there to help. Do your research so you know where the embassy is once you arrive.
DFAT have a worldwide list of Australia embassies and consulates here.
9. Understand how the transport system works
The transport system will help you navigate your way through a foreign country, and it’s critical to comprehend how it works.
Apps like Rome2rio are ideal for travellers who want to learn how to get around more efficiently in a foreign country and can be instrumental in helping your trip go off without a hitch.
Adapting to the Culture
To adjust to the culture and stay safe once you’ve arrived at your destination, follow these tips:
10. Get a translation app
A translation app is important for understanding conversations and asking basic questions in a foreign city if you don’t speak the language.
11. Research local customs
You may think nothing of it at home, but doing simple things like exposing your arms or making a “peace” sign can be considered disrespectful in other countries.
By researching the local customs before you go, you’ll gain a good understanding of what behaviours are accepted and which are not.
12. Understand where you shouldn’t go in the area
Virtually every city, town, and country on earth has a place travellers shouldn’t go, and it’s better to know where these places are before you travel, rather than stumbling into them by accident once you’re there.
Research dangerous areas in your target destination, and understand how to avoid them.
13. Identify common travel scams for the place you are going
Unfortunately, travel scams are common, and they can have a devastating impact on your bank account or your enjoyment of the trip.
Take note of the common travel scams in your target destination and have a plan for avoiding them. This will help you stay safe and happy throughout your trip.
14. Eat where the locals eat
Part of the joy of discovering a new city is eating where the locals choose to eat.
Regardless of where you’re going or what the local culture is like, do your best to seek out local food spots for a truly authentic experience.
Eating at popular local food spots is also a good way to stay safe and avoid any hygiene or health issues.
TripAdvisor is a helpful website to research places to eat while you travel:
15. Know the local laws
Is smoking illegal? Is there a curfew? What is driving like?
By understanding the local laws in your travel destination, you can ensure an enjoyable trip and steer clear of trouble with the local police.
To keep your belongings safe and sound on your next trip, follow these tips:
16. Use anti-theft bags to prevent slashing
In some countries, thieves will slash your bag and make off with its contents.
When you carry an anti-theft bag (like the ones in our collection here), you don’t have to worry about it.
Reinforced with super-lightweight steel mesh, these backpacks resist slashings and keep your belongings safe.
17. Make your luggage easily identifiable
Attach colourful bag tags or a unique ribbon to your suitcase to make it easier to identify at the airport.
This reduces the likelihood of lost luggage and makes it easier to find your suitcase quickly on the luggage carousel.
18. Never leave your luggage unattended
Unattended luggage is just asking to be stolen. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid this fate by refusing to leave your bags lying around and keeping a close eye on them at all times.
19. Make the most of your carry on
In case your large luggage gets lost, you’ll want to have everything you need in your carry on.
This includes a change of clothing, cash, your passport, any electronics you need, and toiletries to get you through a few days.
To stay organised and compact, use Zoomlite’s packing cubes to hold all of your must-have belongings.
20. Pack multiple copies and various types of IDs
If your ID gets lost in a foreign country, you’re facing an uphill battle.
Save yourself the trouble by packing multiple copies and various types of IDs, including a passport, driver’s license, and state ID.
For maximum security, store them in different parts of your luggage, take photocopies of everything, and be sure to bring more than just your passport.
21. Take a small medical kit
A small medical kit is useful for everything from bee stings to minor burns, and it can help make your trip abroad much more comfortable.
While You’re There
To make the most of your trip while you’re in your target destination, follow these pointers:
22. Try not to look like a tourist
When it comes to security threats, tourists are often the primary targets. To keep yourself as safe as possible, do your best not to stand out.
This means dressing like the locals, acting natural, and never, under any circumstances using a selfie stick!
23. Don’t wear valuables around
If you have a wedding ring the size of a sugar cube, gold earrings, or a diamond necklace, consider leaving them at home.
Tourists who (intentionally or unintentionally) flaunt their wealth often become the targets of theft.
24. Use an RFID blocking travel wallet
Today, identity thieves don’t even have to take your wallet to steal your private information – they just need to get close enough to scan your cards.
Luckily, you can prevent this by carrying an RFID-blocking travel wallet that will deflect their attempts.
Today’s models are handsome and functional, and they come in various colours, shapes, and sizes.
25. Carry a “dummy wallet”
While the possibility is frightening, being robbed in a foreign country can happen.
You can mitigate the damage by carrying a “dummy wallet”. This wallet will contain fewer cards and cash and can be given to thieves if you get into a sticky situation.
26. Keep your most important documents in a money belt
A money belt is a small, flat belt that is worn against the skin of the abdomen, under clothing.
Ideal for protecting your most critical documents, a money belt will help you keep your must-have documentation close at hand in the event of a robbery.
27. Update your itinerary while you are away
While we already stated that you should leave your itinerary with someone at home, it’s critical to update it whenever it changes, and keep the people at home notified about your travel plans.
For added security, email yourself a copy of your travel itinerary, along with copies of your passport photo.
28. Check-in with someone at home at regular intervals throughout your trip
Make regular phone calls or emails to someone at home. Or even just drop them a Facebook message to let them know what you are up to. This will help ensure your security and keep you safe as your journey progresses.
29. Avoid sharing taxis with strangers
It may seem like an innocent gesture, but sharing a cab with a stranger can place you at risk during international travel. Choose to grab a cab with people you trust, or go it alone.
30. Never hitchhike
Hitchhiking is a very dangerous means of transport, and can easily result in robbery or kidnapping.
Use an app like Rome2rio to locate routes of transportation, or travel on public transit.
Technology and finance
Stay in the green during your trip with these tips:
31. Use cards and cheques instead of cash
If your money gets stolen, that’s it! Protect your finances by using travel or credit cards and cheques instead of cash. If these get stolen, you can cancel them and ask for new ones from your bank.
All the major banks have travel money card alternatives, like this one from CBA:
32. Use ATMs in the daytime whenever possible
Tourists using an ATM at night are targets for would-be thieves. To keep yourself safe, use ATMs during the day whenever possible.
Also, make sure that the ATM you use is a trusted bank ATM, and not a third party business you have never heard of.
33. Take an adaptor for your phone
In a foreign country, you will find that outlets don’t work for your phone charger.
Take an adaptor along to ensure you can still charge your phone and have a method of communication during your trip, because communication is important for your safety.
34. Use data storage for photos and documents
If your phone, computer, or camera, were to get stolen during your trip, and you hadn’t backed anything up, you’d lose all of your photos.
Use cloud storage, such as iCloud, to save photos and documents, rather than keeping them on your phone.
35. Notify your phone provider of your travel plans
By notifying your phone provider of your travels, you ensure that you don’t get hit with any unwanted charges when you get home. It also informs another party that you will be away if anything was to happen.
They may even have a special overseas travel plan you can sign up for to ensure that you’re still able to talk, text, and share while you’re abroad.
36. Tell your bank
Your bank may shut off your cards if you don’t inform them of your travel plans, so be sure to let them know with plenty of notice.
By telling your bank you are away it also makes it much easier for you to contact them in an emergency and deal with an urgent issue.
37. Avoid using your personal information at internet cafes
Identity thieves often use internet cafes to capture people’s information, so try not to use any of your personal information like your passport number, birth date, or any important passwords at these places.
International Travel, Made Safer
International travel is an exciting experience, and these simple travel safety tips can help ensure that you enjoy your trip in safety and comfort from beginning to end.
What type of preparation or safety travel tip has saved you from heartache on your adventures?
About to head off on a trip...
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