The word vacation brings out so many positive feelings; sunshine, relaxation, freedom, good food, and fun memories.
Whether you're traveling to another city in your country or to another country and culture, spending time away from the hustle and grind of everyday work and life is amazing and much needed.
However, it's important to realize that while vacation can be a time of happiness, it's also a period of time when you're most vulnerable.
Vacationing in an unfamiliar city, perhaps not speaking the local language, and being unaware of the environment all put you at high risk for crime.
Instead of avoiding traveling altogether, you should follow these top tips and strategies to ensure that your vacation is safe and memorable.
1. Research your destination
Before you travel, research the safety and security situation of your destination. Familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and potential risks or concerns. Look up safe neighborhoods and try to book your hotel or Airbnb in those neighborhoods. Research dangerous neighborhoods as well so you know which areas to avoid since many of them border good areas.
2. Share your itinerary
Let someone know your travel plans, including where you'll be staying and how you can be reached. This ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts. You can do this using the array of free Google processing apps like Docs, Sheets, and Maps. Create your daily itinerary on Google Sheets and save places you want to visit on a Google Map, and share these documents with friends and family before leaving.
3. Register with your embassy or consulate
Consider registering with your country's embassy or consulate at your destination. This can make it easier for them to assist you in case of an emergency. This is especially important in countries or cities that may have political or social instability. This is also a great idea if you are planning on staying in a foreign country for an extended period of time like over one (1) month.
4. Keep your belongings secure
Keep your valuables, such as passports, cash, and electronics, secure. Use locks and tags on your luggage. Use hotel safes or other secure storage options when available. Avoid displaying signs of wealth that might attract unwanted attention. Wear a money belt or a fanny pack in front of your body when out in public. Never carry around large amounts of currency - keep a small amount on your person when you're out for the day and replenish it before the next day. In high crime areas keep your backpacks and bags/purses on the front of your body. Don't be sandwiched between people.
5. Be cautious with public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks can be non-secure, so avoid accessing sensitive information like online banking or personal accounts on public networks. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) for added security. It's always best to wait until you are back at your hotel or Airbnb to connect to their secure networks before accessing your confidential accounts.
6. Stay alert and aware
Be mindful of your surroundings at all times. Pay attention to the people around you, especially in crowded areas or tourist spots. Trust your instincts and avoid situations that feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel. Just by appearing to be very vigilant will deter many pick-pocketers and criminals.
7. Use reliable transportation
Stick to reputable transportation options, such as licensed taxis or well-known ride-sharing services. If using public transportation, be cautious of your belongings and be aware of any potential scams. In many countries, using Uber or another ride-sharing app allows you to track your transportation routes, screen your drivers, and it's also comparatively cheap compared to costs in America. We would also say that in most large cities, taking public transportation is relatively safe nowadays as long as you do so during normal daily hours.
8. Stay in well-populated areas
Particularly at night, stick to well-lit and busy areas. Avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or isolated areas, especially if you're not familiar with the local safety conditions. If you are in a desolate area at night, instead of walking home it's best to call for a car service.
9. Keep emergency contacts handy
Have emergency contact numbers, both local and from your home country, saved in your phone or written down somewhere easily accessible. If you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb, save the contacts of your host or hotel front desk.
10. Purchase travel insurance
Consider getting travel insurance that provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and other unforeseen events. Many insurance providers do not provide coverage when you are out of the country.
11. Carry self-defense products
Purchase and bring small, practical, and effective self-defense products on your trips. There are many jewelry lines that provide disguised weapons as jewelry, as well as many everyday items like alarms and hidden knives that can be brought with you. Having something physical to defend yourself with can be the difference in a life or death situation.
There's nothing like experiencing a new environment. The sights, architecture, and attractions are novel and can wow you. Interacting with the friendly accommodating people will make you feel like a local. Trying out new delicious foods could spark your interest in a different cuisine.
While people are generally more vulnerable and unsafe when on vacation, there are strategies and mindsets we can implement to keep us safe and secure.
Share this with anyone who is going on vacation soon and remember to stay safe out there!