Traveling the world can be one of the best adventures of a person’s life. Experiencing new cultures and seeing the world’s wonders is a memorable experience that one can cherish and share for the rest of their life.
Although traveling can be rewarding and most people are optimistic before they embark on their journey, travelers should take every precaution to ensure that they have a safe journey.
Making the right decisions during the trip is important for safety, but preparing for the journey is crucial. Our tips highlight what every traveler needs to undertake to ensure that they enjoy their trip and return home safely.
1. MAKE A DETAILED ITINERARY OF THE TRIP
Not having a plan is like a ship at sea without a crew. The tides will sway that ship in any direction they please.
Travelers who do not know where they are going could end up in undesirable locations and situations.
Every journey begins with the first step. That step is to compose an itinerary of the trip while at home. A traveler should stipulate all the minor details such as:
The more details, the better. A traveler should divide the trip, thereby indicating the day and time of each endeavor.
Not only does the itinerary serve as a road map to the traveler, but it is also a safety precaution. Once completed, the traveler should email the itinerary to family or friends so that they know the traveler’s whereabouts at all times.
Don’t post your itinerary on social media, as it may invite unwanted company such as criminals.
The itinerary also helps the traveler to determine the required documentation.
2. CHECK THE DOCUMENTS
No journey abroad can happen without the proper documents. A traveler needs to know the required documentation to enter each country.
Having a first-world country passport enables the traveler to visa-free travel to many countries but not all.
Finding out the local laws regarding the visas of the intended country of travel is important since different laws apply to every country.
Travelers should find out visa information months in advance of the travel date since most countries have slow processes for issuing visas. The other advantage of applying early is that a traveler has time to reapply if the embassy rejects their first application.
Make sure that your passport does not expire within the next six months. The visa application process could take months, and you might unintentionally extend your trip while in a foreign country.
The last thing you want is for your passport to expire while abroad. That will delay your return and increase your travel costs.
Get a certified copy of your passport. Keep it on you at all times in case something happens to the passport.
10 ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTS FOR TRAVELING ABROAD
It’s a good practice to have 2 printed copies of each of the following, and leave one copy with your next of kin.
3. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
Being optimistic about the journey might make you feel good but coming back home without your belongings would be a sour end to what might have been an otherwise positive life experience.
The world is a dangerous place, and some locals prey on tourists. Although travelers take every precaution to lock their valuables and keep them in a safe place, not having travel insurance is risky.
Before leaving the house, the traveler should have their belongings insured. Theft of personal belongings does not only happen in foreign countries; it can happen at local airports as well.
Travelers have an option between short-term or long-term travel insurance. The itinerary that the traveler should have compiled will guide them on what items to pack, and thus, what items to insure.
The important aspects to check with insurance companies are the belongings that they cover and the reimbursement amount. Although your camera could be worth $2,000, the insurance company might cover only half of that amount.
Travel insurance also means keeping a reasonable amount of cash on you in case your credit card gets declined.
4. EMERGENCY CONTACT INFO
Most people do not plan to get into trouble, but disaster strikes when one least expects.
People panic when they are in trouble and under pressure. That anxiety intensifies when they are in a foreign country.
Having emergency numbers on hand is vital at all times. Being stranded on the side of the road or lost in a foreign country and not having contact information of the relevant people adds to the stress.
Before leaving, travelers should compile a list of emergency contact numbers of:
A traveler should email this list to their friends and family along with their itinerary.
The other list that they should compile on a piece of paper, which they should keep on themselves at all times, is their personal details.
In case somebody needs to identify the traveler if they are unconscious.
Information of the traveler should include:
5. REGISTER WITH YOUR EMBASSY
Who better to protect a traveler than their embassy?
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a U.S. Department of State initiative, allowing U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. (1)
The service is free and provides information throughout your travel, as well as additional security in case of emergencies.
If a natural disaster or a terrorist attack occurs, the local embassy can contact you regarding important information or an evacuation.
Canada’s version of the program is called Registration of Canadians Abroad. (2)
6. DON'T ALWAYS OPT FOR THE CHEAPEST OPTION
Traveling abroad is expensive, especially if the trip entails visiting multiple countries.
Travelers like to save as much as possible by booking cheap flights, accommodation, buying cheap food and opting for walking instead of hiring a taxi.
That might sound like a good idea, but the cheapest option is not always the safest one.
Sometimes getting a cheap flight means that the traveler arrives late at night in a foreign country and has to find transport to get to the hotel when most shuttle services are not operating.
Some travelers who stayed in cheap accommodations reported not having a lock on the door and lying in filthy beds.
Buying cheap food might make you feel good about not splurging, but your meal could result in food poisoning.
You do not have to splurge to enjoy the trip, but do not compromise your safety to save a buck.
7. LEARN THE LOCAL TOURIST SCAMS
Thinking that you are too smart to be scammed might inflate your ego, but it could deplete your pocket.
One of the best ways to avoid being a victim of tourist scams is to appear like you are not a tourist.
Do not wear fancy designer clothing, flash your wallet that is full of money, or look lost.
Try to blend in as much as possible and do not reveal unnecessary information to locals.
Google the most popular tourist scams such as the milk scam in Cuba or the ring scam in Paris. While you’re at it, do not overlook the broken taxi meter scam and others.
Traveling in large numbers also helps to avoid getting tricked. Scammers are less likely to avoid taking advantage of you when you have company. Also, a friend’s second opinion could help you to see a different perspective.
These are only a few of the ways to prepare for your travels and ensure your safety, but they’re invaluable.
Traveling outside your own country can be daunting and it’s best to over prepare. The alternative could leave you penniless in a foreign place, or stranded in another country during a crisis.