I believe the world is a safe place. I believe in good will. I believe in people. I know there are dangerous and desperate places and people in the world, but we shouldn’t let the actions of a few change our views of the many, especially with regards to travel. Here are 10 easy to follow safety tips to help you travel the world safely, even in “dangerous” places.
HAVE NO FEAR
Don’t let the opinions of others or what you see in the media scare you out of taking a trip. The world is amazing and it deserves to be discovered by you. It’s not as scary as most people think. Be bold enough to try.
What do you know about the place you’re visiting? Don’t confuse this with what you’ve heard about the place you’re visiting. It’s okay to not know much or anything at all about the country you’re going to. How accurate, recent or valid is the information you have? Be certain to check if the source of the information is a reputable one. Now ask yourself, is the destination you have in mind still as dangerous as you thought? If no, you’re on the right track. If yes, choose another destination.
RESEARCH IS KEY
Read about the country from the perspective of a local. Check out blogs, articles, books and websites from local authors. Use forums like Flyer Talk or TripAdvisor to ask other travellers about their experiences. Visit official travel advisory websites for government warnings on high risk locations. Once you’ve gathered enough information, make an informed decision.
I’m not always the best with this. I tend to get up and go without mentioning my whereabouts. I also enjoy cultivating a slight sense of mystery about what I’m doing during my travels. But I have been making an effort to let my loved ones know my plans more often. A quick bullet point text message of your daily itinerary is all it takes.
DON’T BE TOUGH
It’s really simple: your life is worth more than your belongings. If you’re robbed (hopefully never), hand over the valuables and live to travel another day. This is one of the many reasons travel insurance exists, make sure you have some.
Relax love birds, I mean no public displays of affluence. Don’t walk around wearing designer brands from head to toe. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. Don’t pull out a wallet or purse full of cash. Don’t brag about how wealthy/rich you are. Don’t rent a fancy car. Do your best to blend in with the locals.
EMERGENCY CONTACT INFO
Keep basic information about yourself on your person in case of emergency. Here’s what a decent emergency contact card should contain (ideally in English & the language of the country being visited):
First & Last Name:
First & Last Name of Emergency Contact:
Telephone of Emergency Contact (include area code):
Email of Emergency Contact:
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
Social drinking is a normal part of traveling for many people. Have a few drinks or whatever else you’re into, but know your limits. You’re an easy target for someone with bad intentions if you’re under the influence. Alcohol and drugs dull your senses, decision making skills and kill brain cells. If you have a travel buddy or several travel companions, designate a sober one.
TIP: Water drastically reduces the effects of alcohol and drugs. If you’re out partying, follow every drink with a glass of ice cold water (free from the bar). If you’re using drugs, drink a lot of water, before, during and after consumption.
I personally use public transit as often as possible everywhere I go, that goes for my hometown Montreal, or somewhere foreign like Taipei. It’s cheap, allows me to explore like a local, generally pretty fast and most of all it’s very public, which increases safety (criminals tend to avoid being noticed). If you feel the need to take a cab somewhere, use official taxi companies. It will likely be more expensive than other means of transportation, but it’s safe.
SHARING IS CARING
You came. You saw. You conquered and lived to tell about it. Let your friends, family and followers know about your trip. Give sincere answers whether they’re good or bad. Acknowledge missteps in your planning and advise of what you would do differently. If you truly feel a place was not as dangerous as it’s often made out to be, say it. Write a Facebook post, tweet it, do it for the (insta)’gram, do it all.