Summer is a popular time for individuals and families to take trips abroad. If you’re traveling overseas this summer, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, stay hydrated and stay safe.
Nine Safety Steps
- Get to know the area. It’s not easy to become comfortably familiar with an international location, especially one that you’ve never visited. But with the Internet, you can use tools such as Google Street View and various live Webcams to take stock of the locale and become familiar with the street and attractions you’ll be visiting. You’ll be amazed how much it helps your sense of direction and reduces your stress to “know” the location. In addition, this gives you the chance to preprint all of your driving or walking instructions so that you are more prepared to travel safely around your destination.
- Follow some of the same basic safety measures you would at home. Many people take a relaxed view of their own safety when traveling abroad. But just as you avoid talking on a cell phone and texting while you drive at home, you should, too, when you travel abroad. The same goes for avoiding driving while tired, approaching a cash machine in a remote area at night, walking down a dark deserted alleyway and so on. Basically, anything that would make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at home should transfer to your vacation.
- Avoid carrying or displaying a large amount of cash. Some travelers feel more comfortable carrying cash on their vacations. This is not necessarily a bad move, but if you take out a wad of cash to pay for a purchase, you’re marking yourself as a potential for mugging. If you must carry currency, keep a small amount of cash accessible and separated from a larger amount so that you aren’t flashing lots of bills when you make purchases.
- Monitor travel alerts. The U.S. Department of State issues temporary alerts to warn travelers of the potential for a short-term event that could make it risky to travel. This can include events such as hurricanes, political unrest and so on. By monitoring these alerts not only can you decide whether it’s a good idea to take your trip as planned, but you can also prepare yourself for the risk.
- Share your itinerary with someone at home and set up a schedule for contact. If you have no set schedule for contact with individuals at home, they will have no way to know that you’re missing until you don’t return. Additionally, if they don’t have a copy of your itinerary, they will have no idea how to help local law enforcement retrace your steps and possibly find out what happened. That’s why it’s important to set a schedule for phone calls, e-mails, Skype chats or some form of contact regularly with someone back at home. In addition, give them a copy of your itinerary and update them when something changes.
- Get vaccinated and buy insurance. There are many germs and viruses that one can get abroad that they may not be exposed to at home. Talk to your doctor about the destination you plan to visit and get up-to-date on all the relevant vaccinations. Because vaccinations don’t ensure that you won’t get sick, it’s also important to secure international health insurance. With an international health insurance policy you can easily and affordably receive treatment abroad when you become ill or injured in an accident.
- Leave the expensive stuff at home. For the most part, jewelry, expensive accessories, and a surplus of pricey electronics are not necessary when you travel abroad. If you plan on having a nice dinner out or attending a cocktail party, consider bringing costume accessories rather than the real thing. As for electronics, you’ll likely want to bring just one device for communication with friends and family back home and accessing the Internet during your trip; the fewer electronics you bring the less likely it is that anyone will steal them.
- Learn about the currency. One of the easiest ways to scam tourists is to take advantage of their confusion over a foreign currency. By having a good familiarity with the currency before you leave you can make sure that your you don’t get shortchanged or scammed.