How To Stay Safe While Traveling
I know someone that traveled to Rome as a tourist from the USA. He was in his early 20’s and exploring the city for the first time. He had all of his belongings, including his passport and wallet, in the backpack he was wearing. He had just left his hotel and was walking down the street when a man approached him with a gun and took his backpack.
What a terrifying experience! Thank God he was not hurt but he lost everything. His passport, his camera, all the photos from his 2-week trip across Europe, even his money and cell phone. This got me thinking about how a person can stay safe while traveling. What are some things that we can do to keep something like this from happening? Read on for some great tips on staying safe on your next trip.
Use The Hotel Safe
Most hotels offer a safe to lock your valuables in. Use it. Store your money, phones, passports, and any other valuables in the safe both while you are sleeping and when you are out. My sister went to Florida once and stayed on the second floor of a hotel with a balcony. She left the balcony door unlocked and while she was sleeping someone slipped in and stole her stuff! Scary to think you could be sleeping while a burglar is walking around your room. If she had used the safe at least she would have still had whatever was inside.
Keep Back-ups of Important Numbers
Most of us have cell phones and our contacts are all saved. Who needs to remember phone numbers anymore? We are spoiled by the ease of just picking a name and hitting call. What happens when your phone is stolen? Do you know the numbers of family or friends you may need to call for help? Cell phones are one of the most targeted items for pickpockets.
Keep a list of important numbers somewhere safe and not in your purse or wallet. Make sure you include other important information like your insurance provider information, travel itinerary, and even important emergency numbers for the city you are visiting. If you bought travel insurance, always a good idea when traveling abroad in case of medical emergencies and the need for medical services such as help from seaplane air ambulance services or other expensive forms of transportation. Make sure you have a copy of that information in your hotel safe or with your luggage.
Be Smart With Your Money
If possible don’t carry all your money on you, or all of your credit cards. If you can, leave some back in the hotel safe. If you do not have a hotel to go back to then separate your money and cards. Keep your wallet in a front pocket instead of the back. If you have a purse, try to use a cross body strap to make it difficult for someone to grab and run. Keep extra cash in a shoe, pocket, or hidden security belt. Always keep some money separate so if you do get pickpocketed you have some backup money for a cab or subway. You can even buy bras now with hidden pockets for cash.
If you have to visit an ATM use one in a public area like the hotel or a bank during daylight hours. Never go to an ATM in an isolated area. Be aware of who is around you before typing in your PIN.
Wait Until After Your Trip to Post
If you are on Social Media wait until after your trip to post photos and updates of your trip. When you post updates of where you are not only are you letting people know that your home is possibly empty, but you are also letting them know where YOU are. This makes it easier for someone to track your movements and time a crime. Turn off GEOtagging on your photos if you do plan to post while you are away.
Don’t Use Gypsy Cabs
Ask your hotel to recommend a taxi service. Never use an unmarked cab or accept a ride in an unmarked car. If you are in an area that you can use Lyft or Uber, make sure to verify your driver (they should send you a photo and the make and model of the car). When the ride arrives ask them who they are supposed to pick up, don’t offer your name first. Do not go with locals that offer you a cheap ride. Like your parents always told you, don’t get in a car with strangers.
- Know at least some words or Phrases in the native language. I like to carry a paper with some common phrases that I may need in an emergency.
- If you have a backpack turn it around to wear it in the front if you are in a very crowded area.
- Use luggage locks on your backpack zippers
- Give a copy of your itinerary to a family member or friend
- Enable the find my phone app and turn on GPS in case you lose your phone
- Email copies of important documents and itineraries to yourself or save them on the cloud for easy access from any device.
- Don’t be flashy with your jewelry
- Keep small bills in your wallet. You don’t want people seeing you try to break a hundred for a coffee.
- know the local number for emergency help. In the USA it is 911 but that is not the case in other countries.
- Buy travel insurance