9 Painless & Powerful Ways to Travel Safer in Today's World
01 - Blend in
Try to dress like the locals. Leave your designer duds at home, and don't wear flashy jewelry. You don't want to stand out and call attention to yourself as a tourist. Instead, you want to keep a low profile and be a chameleon in your surroundings.
Pro Tip: Invest in a secure travel bag. There are several options out there with slash-proof fabric, interlocking zippers, and other features that can make it much harder for thieves to steal from you.
02 - Have an emergency plan
Know who to call and what to do in case of an emergency. Keep a short list of emergency contacts where you can easily access them, like in your phone. If you're traveling abroad, look up and memorize the phone number for 911 (check this list). Also, know where the closest U.S. embassy is (you can look that up here).
Pro Tip: Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so you can get alerts from the U.S. Embassy about any disasters or civil unrest in your destination. You can also get alerts about family emergencies through STEP.
03 - Bring a basic first aid kit
Start with any medications you take regularly. Include allergy medicines, inhalers, and/or motion sickness drugs, if needed. Also, don't forget bandages for minor cuts, antiseptic wipes, and some type of over-the-counter pain medicine. This kit can help you avoid injury or treat minor injuries on the go.
Pro Tip: Pack sunscreen, bug repellent, and an Epi-Pen. Epi-Pens can be lifesavers for severe allergic reactions.
04 - Get short-term travel insurance
Make sure you get both trip insurance and travel medical insurance. While trip insurance can cover cancellations and lost or stolen property, travel medical insurance can cover medical needs and emergency care on your trip.
Pro Tip: Double check whether your insurance covers just one trip or a given period of time. If you travel more often, you may want to consider an annual travel insurance plan, so you always have that coverage in the background.
05 - Make digital copies of all your important travel documents
Scan your ID, passport, travel itinerary, airline tickets, hotel confirmations, and other travel documents you'll need on your vacation. If anything happens to the physical versions of these items, your digital backups can verify who you are and help you get to where you need to be. That can help you avoid huge disruptions in a trip.
Pro Tip: Scan vaccination cards, medication information, and emergency contact information. Keep your digital items all in a "digital wallet" or a secure cloud location, so you can access them anywhere you have secure internet access.
06 - Avoid solo travel
Whenever possible, don't travel alone. Vacation with a friend, a family member, or a group if you can. If you're on your own abroad, you can be a much easier target for unsavory characters. It can also be easier to get lost, get lonely, and make a wrong call when you're alone in a strange place. A travel companion can be another set of eyes and ears looking out for you. Plus, they may make your trip more fun!
Pro Tip: If you don't have a travel buddy (or even if you do), sign up for an organized tour as part of your vacation. If you start your trip with a tour, you won't only have a group to go on some excursions with, but you could also meet some new friends to buddy up with for other activities later.
07 - Regularly check in with home
Call or check in with a friend or loved one back home every day, ideally around the same time, if possible. When you do, briefly share your upcoming plans, like where you're going, who you're going with, and what you're going to do. If you do this and anything goes wrong, it can be much easier to figure out where you are and get you help ASAP.
Pro Tip: Plan your home check-ins in the morning, right before you go out for the day, or in the evenings, right before you eat dinner or go to bed. And remember, you don't need someone to pick up on the other end for your check-in to be effective. Leaving a message daily works just the same.
08 - Stay sharp, alert, and aware
Keep your wits about you. Look around without looking like you're lost, such as by taking a moment to sit down and observe calmly. Pay attention to your surroundings, including who's around you, at all times. Don't drink too much alcohol. And trust your gut. If you get a weird feeling about somebody or a certain situation, trust your instincts.
Pro Tip: Don't share too much with strangers or locals. Keep your cards close to your chest. That can mean not disclosing that you're a first timer to an area and not sharing the name of your hotel (or the address of your accommodation).
09 - Hide an "emergency" cash stash
Keep at least two stashes of money and credit cards when you travel. Carry one stash and hide the other in a separate, secure spot. That way, you'll have instant access to back-up funds if you're pickpocketed or you somehow lose the cash you're carrying.
Pro Tip: Hide your emergency cash stash in unusual places, like in an empty (dry) toiletry bottle, inside of a sock or shoe, or in between a mobile device and its case.