10 essential safety tips for traveling abroad by JW Design Studio

10 Essential Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

Updated post: 2.21.2024 // Original post: 2.14.2016

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Embarking on a journey to explore distant lands is exciting stuff! I mean, just think about all the incredible experiences and memories waiting for you out there. But hey, amidst all the buzz of planning an epic adventure, we’ve gotta remember one super important thing: keeping ourselves safe while we’re out exploring the world. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or stepping beyond familiar shores for the first time, safety always comes first, right? So, let’s dive into this guide together and check out these ten essential tips to make sure our travels are not just amazing but also totally worry-free. Sound good? Let’s do this!

1. Check travel.state.gov website for alerts or warnings for your destination country
Visit the travel.state.gov website to check for any alerts or warnings relevant to your travel plans. This invaluable resource provides insights into potential risks, ranging from political instability to health-related concerns, enabling you to make informed decisions and adjust your itinerary accordingly.

2. Prioritize health by checking CDC.gov for recommended vaccinations
Safeguard your health by researching any necessary vaccinations or health precautions recommended for your destination. Visit the cdc.gov website to access information on required or recommended vaccinations, as well as any prevalent health risks or outbreaks in the region.

3. Obtain contact information for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate AND sign up to STEP Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Depending on your destination and whether there are any warnings or alerts issued, this step may vary in importance. Travelers should be prepared, particularly for emergencies such as natural disasters or political unrest, when government assistance may be needed. You can visit the official websites of the U.S. Embassy (http://www.usembassy.gov/) or the State Department’s Country Information page (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html). Additionally, consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) via https://step.state.gov/, which provides travelers with important updates and facilitates communication with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in case of emergencies.

4. Make 2 copies of all of your important documents, credit cards, identification and travel documents. Store in multiple places, such as email and a personal travel safe.
Protect your essential documents by making multiple copies and storing them in separate locations. Scan and email copies of your passport, identification, credit cards and travel documents to yourself for easy access in case of loss or theft. Additionally, keep printed copies in a secure location, such as your luggage or a personal travel safe, and consider leaving copies with an emergency contact back home.

What should you photograph or scan?

  • Passports
  • ID
  • Credit card numbers and contact information for the credit card company so you can call in a lost or stolen card
  • Bank debit card number and contact information for the bank so you can call in a lost or stolen card
  • Airline tickets and/or confirmation numbers and contact information for airline
  • Travel insurance policy number and contact information
  • Travel accommodations, bookings and confirmations

5. Leave High-Value Items at Home or Photograph Them
ILeave high-value items at home if possible. If you must travel with valuables, take quick photos and email them to yourself for easy access in case you need to prove ownership of stolen items. Here are some suggested items to photograph:

  • Cameras
  • Laptops/iPads
  • Cell phones
  • Cash
  • Jewelry (wedding/engagement rings)
  • Any high ticket items you purchase on the trip

6. Pack smart and invest in anti-theft bags and apparel options
Optimize your packing strategy by investing in anti-theft bags and TSA-approved luggage locks. Choose a reliable anti-theft bag equipped with features like slash-resistant fabric and RFID blockers to safeguard your belongings while exploring unfamiliar destinations. Utilize luggage locks to secure your belongings during transit and/or while in storage. Consider purchasing travel clothing designed with hidden pockets (scarves, shirts, pants, vests, etc).

7. Money, Cards and Decoy stash
When it comes to managing your money while traveling, it’s crucial to rethink your approach. Rather than depending on a single wallet, divide your funds strategically. Allocate a portion for daily expenses and use hidden pockets like a waste wallet or bra stash for emergencies. Consider carrying decoy cash to prevent complete loss during a potential theft. Store essential items like ID and one credit card with your decoy stash, making it appear as if it contains your full stash to any would-be thieves.

8. Reconsider using room safes
Unfortunately, room safes may not provide the level of security one might expect. However, they still offer a safer alternative to carrying valuable items on your person. It’s important to acknowledge that hotel staff, including management, may have access to these safes. To mitigate potential risks, consider photographing the contents of your room safe, including cash and vital documents, for documentation purposes in case of any discrepancies. Alternatively, you may opt for a personal travel safe, which can be securely locked and attached to a fixed object in your room, such as plumbing or a clothing rod, providing an additional layer of protection for your belongings.

9. Consider your personal protection options
It’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings, but it’s also smart to equip yourself with personal protection items such as a self-defense key chain or pepper spray. Before packing, ensure these items meet airline regulations by checking with the TSA and familiarize yourself with the laws of your destination country to prevent any legal complications. Moreover, learning basic self-defense techniques can decrease your vulnerability and empower you to defend yourself confidently. Even everyday objects like a pen or rolled-up magazine can serve as effective tools for your safety.

10. Get travel insurance
Protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances by obtaining comprehensive travel insurance. Whether you encounter trip cancellations or medical emergencies abroad, travel insurance provides vital coverage, offering reassurance and preparedness for any hurdles along your journey. For added flexibility and coverage, explore options like “cancel for any reason” insurance, which ensures coverage for unexpected events before departure.

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