Holidays should be a time to have fun, whether through warm relaxation or exciting adventure. What it shouldn’t be, however, is stressful. Unfortunately, where there are tourists, there are scammers and thieves, and sometimes, through no-one’s fault, accidents happen. Fortunately, with some planning, you can minimise the risk of a holiday-ruining event. Here are our top 10 best travel safety tips for a worry-free break.
In 2017, 2 in 5 UK tourists travelled abroad without proper cover. Without travel insurance, cancelled or delayed flights, lost luggage, and holiday mishaps will not be recompensated. Also, Brits have become accustomed to automatically having medical cover whenever travelling to EU, but Brexit could change that.
Exploring new locations is one of the great joys of travel. Yet, some neighbourhoods and areas are more dangerous than others. An essential travel safety tip is to plan ahead. Learn which areas in a given destination are safe, and where is more troublesome. Do some reading, ask other tourists online, and check out national and regional tourist websites for tips on dos and don’ts.
Unfortunately, taking a map out in the middle of a tourist area advertises you to local pickpockets. A more subtle way to get your bearings is by using a map on your phone. Of course, you will want to avoid roaming data charges, so download a local map while on Wi-Fi before going offline to explore. Maps.Me, Google Maps, and OsmAnd are just some of the free options available which are intuitive to use, allow you to search for nearby sites, shops, restaurants, and hotels, etc., and include navigation tools.
Visiting national and regional tourist websites and speaking with other tourists are great ways to learn about known scams and less desirable areas in a given destination.
Failing that, a travel safety tactic is to always be aware of strangers. If someone approaches you in the street without invitation or offers an experience without a uniform or proper branding, excuse yourself and move away. They may be selling a scam, distracting you while someone else tries to rob you, or are about to ask for money.
In Colombia, there is a slang phrase:
Don’t give papaya
It means, don’t display your valuables, or else thieves will take them.
The best way to avoid pickpockets or thieves stealing your valuables is not to carry them on your person. Some countries require you to carry your passport and/or visa at all times. For all others, leave your passport in a safe back in your accommodation. Similarly, a credit card is useful in case of emergencies, but leave all other cards somewhere secure, and keep cash to a minimum.
Hopefully, with proper vigilance and careful planning, you will avoid thieves entirely. However, if you are unfortunate enough to have your phone stolen, you can increase your chances of recovering it by locking it and installing a tracking app.
If your phone has a password or uses facial recognition, it is far more difficult for thieves to access the contents. Their only recourse is to then sell it or try to crack it. If a tracking app is installed, which you can activate from a computer with an internet connection, the local police may be able to relocate your phone via GPS and recover it. Some tracking apps can even disable other features on the phone, too, ensuring the phone is useless to the thieves.
Note down important documents and information. In the event of needing this information, you will save yourself time and stress. We recommend the following as a minimum:
While you should always keep your eyes on your cards and never let someone walk off with them, even for a moment, cards still get cloned and money stolen. Fortunately, banks in the UK are very good at detecting fraud and can put a stop to phony purchases before they go through.
However, this is not guaranteed. Sometimes these purchases do go through, which means your bank won’t flag the sale or try to contact you, and you won’t realise until much later. To manage this, make a habit of regularly checking your bank balance (from a secure laptop and internet connection). If you spot anything untoward, call you bank immediately.
Purchasing a small travel safety medical kit is a simple thing which can save you discomfort later. If you are travelling somewhere with bugs that bite, cleaning, disinfecting, and bandaging the wound early will prevent it from becoming infected. The same goes for any other small, seemingly inconsequential wound, like a grazed knee.
Furthermore, some destinations have bugs, animals, and diseases that are more dangerous than others. Make sure to visit your GP before travelling to get/top up any necessary vaccinations, take pills to avoid preventable diseases, like malaria, and follow local guidance to avoid common mistakes.
Finally, if you are holidaying to a non-English-speaking country, an excellent travel safety tip is to learn a few phrases. If someone steals your belongings and you don’t know how to get back to your hotel, or if you need medical attention, speaking with the locals is the fastest way to get help.
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