Travel always involves a bit of uncertainty. And there will always be location-specific warnings to observe depending on where you’re going. The good news is there are several proven precautions you can take ahead of time and while traveling to stay safe and navigate any unexpected catastrophes when away from home.
Here are 10 tried-and-true methods to dodge danger and maximize your enjoyment of practically any destination. Remember, safety and adventure aren’t mutually exclusive. And feeling anxious is totally natural. Either way, you got this!
Before you leave
- Check local advisories. Traveling to Iowa comes with a different set of risks than, say, traveling to Africa. The same is true when traveling to Europe, Latin America, Asia, or to any specific country within every continent, let alone specific regions that demand their own precautions. For the latest information, if you’re traveling from the US check the State Dept website, as well as local news reports, and travel guides to your specific destination.
- Get your shots (where needed). Not every location demands special immunizations before visiting. But many of them do, especially less developed countries and continents. What’s more, the pandemic made things a lot more complicated, as certain countries drop or maintain proof of vaccination before entering. Either way, if you’re in the US check with the CDC for any destination-specific shots you might need before boarding your flight.
- Share your plans with emergency contacts. Doing so can be a simple but life-saving act, especially when traveling off-grid, on high adventure trips, or in more dangerous destinations. Tell your friends and loved ones when and where you’re going, what you’re doing, where you’re staying, how you’re traveling, and how they can get in touch with you should anything come up.
- Know common scams. In many countries, individuals might feign assistance and incessantly follow you, only to later demand payment for their unsolicited help. Others might wow you with offers that are too good to be true, work in teams to distract you and take your goods, or worse. Many travel advisories will include this information, but some extra online searches can go a long way to expose and help you avoid any harm to your wallet and/or your safety.
- Get travel insurance. If you really want to cover your bases while abroad, you’ll want travel insurance, such as that offered by Seven Corners. Doing so can help recoup your money if you need to cancel a trip (or your flight is delayed) and cover the cost of treating medical emergencies while traveling, including care at foreign hospitals and medical evacuation, lost bags, early returns home, and many other unexpected mishaps.
- Know your limits. Feeling nervous before traveling somewhere new is normal. But if you’re feeling downright sick about your plans, you’ve probably bitten off more than you can chew. The best pre-test of an experience is whether you’re still excited about it, even if it’s something you’ve never done before. After you arrive, however, be sure to listen to your mind and body and back out of anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Eat and drink like your life depends on it. This is especially true on high adventure trips. Dehydration is easily preventable but amazingly one of the leading causes of illness while traveling abroad. So, drink more water than you think, plan for regular bathroom breaks, and stay away from street vendors unless you’re certain they’re free from food poison.
- Secure your valuables. It’s always important to protect your personal property, be it in parked rental cars, beach bags, or wallets and phones in your usually secure pockets. Again, travel advisories will often alert you to higher areas of petty theft but be on the extra lookout when traveling someplace new.
- Avoid getting too close to wildlife (or the edge of a cliff). Many years ago, an American college student was sadly (but unsurprisingly) eaten by a lion after sticking her head out of a car window while at Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Others become seriously sick after licking psychedelic toads in Sonora. And far too many tourists have fallen to their deaths while snapping selfies at the ends of a cliff. Don’t do it. No photo is worth your life or good health.
- Stay alert. Be on the lookout. If you’re not sure about something, step inside a public building, follow the crowd, and trust your gut, especially if you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings or cultures. Although you may be tempted to “travel like a local,” don’t do it. You’re probably not as experienced as they are and that’s okay. Instead, travel like a respectful tourist and accept that you don’t know everything. Doing so will keep you safe.
Despite what the news will sometimes have you believe, the world is a safer than it has ever been. Yes, there are risks. But when traveling, these 10 tips can help you avoid almost any setback. Bon voyage!