Top 3 Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling

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The number one question I get asked as a travel agent is actually one of the hardest to answer.

“Is it safe?”

It’s hard to answer because although you should ask it and research and know where you are going, there is never a guarantee of safety.

But, it also should be stated, there is also not a guarantee of safety anytime you leave your house, or even IN your house for that matter. You could fall down the stairs any day, ya know? Ok, now that we have that settled, let’s go deeper and try to unpack this one as best as possible.

How can you best prepare for and execute a safe travel experience? Here are my top three tips to help you maximize the potential for a safe trip.

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Know the Risks

First of all, good for you for asking about safety. A trip where you feel safe is automatically going to be more a relaxing, restorative, and overall positive experience.

That being said, though, asking is the starting point. Don’t just assume that anywhere you go is going to be the same as home.

I always start by heading to my trusty U.S. Department of State Travel Website: travel.state.gov

There is so much information on this website. There is safety information about each and every country in the world, and it is pretty detailed. It also tells you if there is the level of risk for each country, on a four point scale, from Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions to Level 4: Do Not Travel.

Being informed will help you make the best decision about whether or not you feel comfortable traveling to a particular location.

When In Rome…

Try your best to fit in. Observe your local surroundings. What are people wearing? How are they conducting themselves? Observing and asking respectful questions of local people is one of the best ways to know the customs of that location. And to the best of your ability and comfort level, try to follow these norms.

In some locations, you have to follow expectations regarding clothing, or gender roles. But even in places where the customs might appear to be more similar to your own, there are going to be subtle (or not so subtle) differences that will make you stand out if you choose to ignore them.

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On one of my first trips to Europe, a group trip during college, a number of my classmates were wearing brightly colored ski jackets.

This makes perfect sense to the practical college student. It was January and cold. But in a sea of black pea coats, the red and yellow anoraks really stood out.

When you stand out, or are viewed as an outsider, you are more likely to be a target for crime.

Expensive jewelry and fancy watches don’t need to travel with you.

If you do need to take an expensive item, such as a laptop or camera, lock it up in the hotel safe when you are not using it.

And when you are using it, be smart. Don't flaunt it, and don't leave it unattended. 

Be smart. Don’t flaunt it.

Be Prepared

Taking a few simple steps in preparation can go a long way.

Definitely get travel insurance. Just do it, ok? When I worked as a study abroad advisor, it wasn’t an option. I’ve seen it all, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I also recommend insurance that provides medical evacuation coverage. I typically recommend Travel Guard or Allianz Travel to my clients.

Enroll in the State Department STEP program. It’s not pleasant to think about what will happen if there is a natural disaster or the like while you are traveling, but taking this small step will make a difference should the worst occur.

Take a few minutes to orient yourself to a new location. Ask where the nearest hospital is located and know what to do if you do need to go to the hospital.

Must-Have Safety Accessories

Obviously the best and most stress-free trips are the ones where you stay safe.

Want some more tips on how to have stress-free travel?

Jannan Poppen