When you travel the odds are you will have a safe and incident-free trip. However, if you are not aware of basic travel safety you can become a victim of crime or violence. If you exercise discretion, aren’t overly trusting, and don’t put yourself into risky situations, your travels should be safe and worry free. Don’t travel afraid – travel carefully.
Following are some of my suggestions to help you travel safely.
1. Luggage tags – never put your home address and phone number as this advertises the fact that you will be out of the country. I put my business address and phone number and I use a tag that has a cover.
2. Never leave your luggage unattended.
3. Travel light. Limit your luggage to 1 checked bag and a small carry.I find this allows me to move quickly, to have a free hand and avoid injury due to heavy lifting.
4. Dress down. Don’t wear expensive jewelry as this only attracts attention. I leave my valuables at home and take costume jewelry.
5. Never wear name tags in public.
6. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.
7. If taking a taxi, sit behind the driver so that you can see him, but he can’t see you.
8. If driving, park in well-lit and well-traveled areas
9. Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
10. Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
11. Do not give your room number or any other personal information in public. When giving my room number to travel companions I say it quietly away from others or write it on a piece of paper and hand it to them privately.
12. If staying alone in a hotel room, request a lower floor, near the elevator. If my room is at the far end of the hallway I insist on having it moved closer to the elevator for personal safety.
13. Keep door locked at all times and use safety chains. I place an item in front of the door at night as the noise of it being moved will arouse me if someone tries to enter my room.
14. Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located.Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.
15. If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.
16. Take note of the hotel name, address and telephone number. If you become disoriented you can go into a shop or ask a local authority for directions back to your hotel. I pick up a card from the front desk or have the hotel clerk write the information on a piece of paper for me.
17. Never flash your money in public, when paying for items remove it discreetly from your wallet or purse.. I always wear a fanny pack and keep a small amount of cash in here to pay for incidentals.
18. Wear a money belt to keep your valuables safe. I keep my passport, credit cards, insurance information and cash in my money belt and use my fanny pack for small bits of cash.
19. Let the bag go. If some grabs your bag let it go. If you fight back you risk being injured.
20. Don’t carry a purse over your shoulder or hang it over the back of a chair. If I am carrying a purse I keep it in the front of my body and turn the zippered part inwards, when dining I keep it on my lap.
21. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch for pick pockets. They usually work in pairs and distract you. They will ask directions or play the bump and grab routine, one person bumps you while the other grabs your purse or picks you pocket.
22. Never accept food or drink from a stranger. Keep an eye on your drink at all times.
23. Learn the local laws and customs. When traveling you’re subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit.
24. Leave all unnecessary pieces of identification at home. I only take my passport, insurance information and 1 credit card and 1 debit card. Leave your driver’s license (if not renting a car), social insurance, health card and credit cards not being used at home.
25. Leave a copy of your travel itinerary and hotel contact information with a family member or close friend.If anything should they know where you are and have a better chance of getting a hold of you.
26. Copy your passport, insurance information, credit and debit card numbers and emergency contact numbers.Take one copy with you and keep it separate from the originals.Leave a copy with a family member or close friend. If you lose any of these items this makes it much easier to cancel the cards or have your passport replaced.
27. In case of an accident, make sure you have completed the information page on the inside of your passport. Include the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.
28. Register with your government. The Canadian Government offers this services that they can contact and assist you in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform you of a family emergency at home. Click on the following link to register.