Travelling the world is one of the most incredible things you could do in your life.
While travelling is exciting it can sometimes very risky. So it’s important to know some basic safety tips.
When setting off a big trip, the last thing you need is to have it ruined by theft, accidents or assault.
Here are some essential safety tips you need to know before your next adventure!
How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed
Pickpockets are an issue in most major cities around the world. Places like Rome and Barcelona are renowned for them! Pretty much everyone has been a victim of this or knows someone who has.
One common piece of advice is to wear a money belt. However, these are inconvenient when you want to pay for something. When you open them in public they also draw a lot of unwanted attention. Besides they’re not pretty so there’s a high chance you won’t even use one.
Carry a backpack
Instead, carry a backpack when you are out exploring instead of a side bag or tote. You can also jump on the bum bag trend, they are incredibly practical and now fashionable!
Leave all your valuables locked away in your hotel or hostel (including your passport if you don’t need it). Only bring the amount of cash you will need for that day.
Keep your valuable items in the bottom of the large portion of your backpack, not the smaller outer pocket. While these pockets are easy for you to access they are also easy for thieves to access too!
Keeping your valuables in the large part of your backpack means they will be close to your body, so you should feel someone reaching in. It’s also easy to carry your backpack on your front when you are in a crowded place.
Never carry valuables in your side pockets like your phone and wallet, even if they zip up! It just makes you an easy target. You should only ever carry valuables in your front pocket and protect them with your non-dominant hand in a crowd.
Don’t Fall For Their Tricks
Most thieves target just one person in a crowd and some work in groups. They choose their victim based on seeing something branded or what appears to be expensive jewellery. They also look for someone who is unorganised, distracted or lost.
Thieves that work in groups will usually have one person cause a diversion with yelling or asking you for directions. Anything to distract you. If you see a disturbance be extra vigilant with your surroundings.
Never walk while texting, scrolling or looking at a map on your phone, especially if you have headphones in. It’s incredibly easy for thieves on bikes and scooters to snatch it straight out of your hands. In cities like London, this is a huge problem.
Be Safe When You Are Out At Night Or Partying
When you are out drinking and having fun it is easy to forget about your safety. You are much more likely to trust the wrong people.
This makes you an easy target for theft or even assault. You can easily end up in a situation where you are with people who don’t make you feel safe. So it is important to be vigilant when you are partying in a foreign country.
These tips apply to everyone but are extra important if you are a solo female traveller in a big city.
Don’t accept drinks from strangers
This goes for people you have met recently even when they are staying at your hostel or hotel. Some people are simply predators or just really creepy. Only accept drinks from people you know pretty well and have built trust with.
Don’t get too drunk
When you drink too much you let all your walls down and you don’t make good decisions. If you are out in a city club or bar, limit yourself! Otherwise, you run a much higher risk of losing your stuff or having it stolen.
You might make some bad decisions about who you befriend!
Avoid walking alone at night
This goes without saying but sometimes we feel invincible (especially after a few drinks). We tend to think that nothing will actually happen to us, "what are the chances?".
But seriously just don’t walk home alone late at night.
It’s not worth the risk, anything could happen and it could destroy your trip in a second. Be careful on who you befriend and accept rides from as well. Never accept a ride from a stranger even if they appear to be innocent!
There are some real horror stories out there. Just get an Uber or taxi.
It’s Okay To Lie
Remember that when you are out in the world it is totally okay to lie to someone if you feel they don’t have the best intentions. Even if they are harmless you can still lie to make yourself feel safe.
Two of the top things to lie about are your relationship status and whether you are travelling alone.
Overseas it’s extremely common for men to ask women who appear to be travelling alone where there husband or boyfriend is. If you are single and you get bad vibes, tell them you’re married or in a relationship so they will leave you alone.
If you are travelling alone, people will be drawn to you and will want to strike up a conversation. Men will be particularly interested in finding out why you are alone if you are a woman.
This provides a great opportunity for them to pursue you which might be innocent. But it might not be and it could put you in some really uncomfortable situations. Just lie and tell them you are travelling with friends or a boyfriend who are doing something else.
Protect Your Luggage On Buses and Trains
When you are on a bus, train or plane it’s easy to become complacent about your belongings and trust those around you, especially staff! Be aware of your belonging as they aren’t always safe.
Sometimes you will have to store your big bag under the bus or in an overhead area you can’t easily see or have access to. It’s a good idea to lock your big bag with a padlock. Make sure you keep all your valuable items like electronics, cash, jewellery, passports in a small bag that stays on your body or down at your feet.
On trains, thieves can quickly take your bag when you aren’t looking or play tricks by switching it with a similar bag or concealing it in a bigger bag. This is most likely to happen when the trains stop so they can grab and run.
If you are on an overnight bus or train people can easily rummage through your things while you are asleep, especially if they are stored in a shelf or compartment away from you. Keep your valuables in a bag on your body when you are sleeping and use a padlock. If you have a bed you can use it as a pillow or keep it between your feet and put the strap around one leg.
Always Get Travel Insurance
Make sure your valuables are covered
This should be a no brainer but you would be surprised how many people travel with no insurance at all. If you are travelling with very expensive valuables like a laptop and camera equipment or expensive jewellery, always get the best coverage for special items.
Make sure you have proof of purchase for all your valuables before you go away and read your policy very carefully. It's important to know exactly what you are covered for and what evidence you will need to show if something does happen.
Protect yourself from gigantic medical bills
Valuables aside, the biggest reason to get travel insurance is to cover unexpected medical costs.
If you get into an accident or you get robbed and injured, the cost of your medical bills in a foreign country could be exorbitant. The chances are low of something really bad happening but anything could happen. You’ve probably heard the horror stories!
A lot of hospitals in countries like Bali won’t even treat you if you can't prove you have insurance. This could be a serious threat to your health and safety. At the bare minimum get travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.
Again always read your policy carefully to check which activities are covered. Get additional cover for more high-risk activities like hiking in high altitude, riding a motorbike, skiing and so on. Seemingly innocent activities like jumping off rocks might not be covered.
Stay safe on bikes and in cars
Never drink and drive and always wear a helmet and seat belt. Not only does this keep you much safer, but if you get into an accident and you have alcohol in your system or you aren’t wearing a helmet your insurance will be void instantly. Insurance companies will be searching for reasons to not cover you so make sure you have your own back.
World Nomadshas good comprehensive travel insurance policies and Safetywing has affordable policies that are great for medical emergencies. Both of these companies are designed for people who travel for extended periods of time without solid plans.
When you are travelling in big cities or countries with different cultural standards for dressing, like India, be careful about the clothes you wear.
Be modest, try not to show off too much leg, chest or shoulders (this goes for men too). Carry a light shawl with you so you can easily cover yourself up when you are going somewhere that is crowded or has religious significance. If you are in a very hot place invest in clothes that are made of light and breathable fabric.
This will save you from getting unnecessary attention, which might land you in a dangerous situation. Plus it’s much more respectful to the culture if you are in a place like India. It’s always a great idea to dress more like the locals!
Don’t wear any flashy brands or jewellery, even if they are fake and cheap. It will draw attention to you and make you more likely to be victimised.
Plan Your Arrival
Always plan to arrive at a new destination during the day, especially if you have never been before. This makes it much safer when finding transport if you don’t have anything preorganised.
Make sure you book at least one night of accommodation in advance, especially if it is a big city. This means you won’t be aimlessly wandering around looking for somewhere to stay which makes you the perfect candidate to get scammed!
Check how far it is to your hostel or hotel and ask them the best way to get there and how much it will cost. Arrive prepared!
Hostel Safety Tips
Staying in hostels is an amazing part of travelling. You get to meet so many amazing like-minded people and make incredible memories.
However, the communal nature of hostels means you are at a greater risk of theft. Always precheck that your hostel provides locker so you can keep your valuables safe.
Bring multiple padlocks with you as well so you can lock the locker and your big bag. It's always good to have spares in case you lose or lend them.
Don’t leave your phone, laptop or charger on your bed when you go out even if it just to the common room. It’s so easy for an opportunist to quickly grab something they see lying around. Most of the time people who you are staying with won’t steal anything from you but it just takes one person to ruin it!
If you are a solo female traveller it’s a good idea to stay in an all-girls dorm room. You will feel much more comfortable, especially if you haven't' stayed in hostels before.
While people at hostels are mostly awesome there can be some unsavoury people so take care of yourself!
Find Out The Emergency Number
Do you know the emergency for any country besides your home country and the US thanks to the movies? Most likely not. You’ve probably gone to plenty of countries without bothering to check what the emergency number.
As a safety precaution find out what the emergency number is and write it on a note in your phone. If there is an emergency you can contact the authorities immediately.
Learn How To Ask For Help
If you learn only one thing in the local language, learn how to ask for help. If anything does happen you should know how to ask for help.
This is particularly true if you are in a country or village where there is very little English known.
Protect Your Money
It’s super important to make sure you always have access to money when travelling.
Try to only withdraw cash from ATMs that are outside an official bank. Avoid ATMs inside convenience stores or petrol stations and ATMs that aren’t a major bank. Not only do you risk being ripped off by the exchange rate on the dodgy machines, but you are also more likely to have your card skimmed.
Only carry small amounts of cash on you when you go out. Don’t withdraw huge amounts at a time and keep excess cash locked up at your hotel or hostel.
Travel with multiple debit and credit cards in case something happens to one of your other cards. If your card gets lost, stolen or skimmed you want to have a backup.
Keep your backup card somewhere different in your luggage so if your wallet gets stolen you will still be able to access funds.
Back-Up Essential Documents Onto the Cloud
Important documents like visas, passports, drivers licences, booking confirmations and travel insurance certificates should be backed up on cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud.
This means as long as you have an internet connection, you will be able to access copies of your most important documents.
Trust Your Gut
Last but certainly not least trust your gut when you are travelling.
If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. If someone gives you a bad vibe trust that feeling. Act on your instincts, even if you offend someone or end up making a situation difficult.
Same goes for the opposite too. If you want to be a bit spontaneous and your gut is telling you it’s safe, it probably is!
Travelling around the world is supposed to be exciting and fun. It’s okay to let your guard down and enjoy new experiences and people. Just listen to your intuition and make smart decisions.
It can be comforting to travel with a lucky charm or talisman to ward off thieves and keep you safe!
Off The Map Jewellery has a wide range of unique and high-quality sterling silver and gold travel jewellery.
You can get pendants, rings, bracelets, keyrings and backpack tags to take along with you for luck and good fortune.