Travel Safety Tips – How to Travel Safely
13 Safety Travel Tips for Keeping Safe While on the Road
My biggest fear while traveling is staying and keeping safe, particularly as a solo female traveler. How do I keep myself, my items and my money safe, or at least have access to them, when traveling? How do you keep yourself safe while traveling? Here are my 13 travel safety tips for keeping safe while I’m on the road.
Travel Safety Tip #1 – Always carry some cash
Even though I travel a lot within the Euro zone, I always travel with an amount of British Pounds or Dollars, in cash, just in case. Sometimes my card won’t work, sometimes a machine will eat my card, and other times the card reader has been compromised and my info is duplicated for fraudulent use. It can be a real pain in the ass. I’ve learned the hard way, and having emergency cash is always a good idea.
Travel Safety Tip #2 – Keep your money and cards separate
Carry separate wallets that aren’t wallets at all. That’s too obvious. A simple pouch I recommend is the Furla Envelope Pouch. This is the one I have minus the silly decoration on front. I’m a ‘no-frills’ kind of woman, and while I love a good quality pouch or handbag, I’m not out there advertising their decorations.
Use different pouches, and put separate credit and bank cards in each one, just incase one gets stolen. Keep one with you and leave one behind, locked up, at the hotel. Make sure you’ve written down card numbers and bank contact details in a secure format. Most of us have a ‘notes’ area on our phone or computer that can be password-protected. I know it all seems anal, but at least you can travel without too much worry.
Make sure cash cards have a daily and weekly withdrawal limit, and remember what your withdrawal limit is. Even if it’s used fraudulently, not much will be taken. I know it’s annoying for the screen to say I’ve reached my daily/weekly limit. The bank says it’s for my protection, which in part is true, but at times I want to use cash because what I spend my money on is my business.
Consider investing in an RFID Wallets. These will prevent scammers who may be walking past, standing in line with you at the coffee shop or near you at a check out counter, from fraudulently scanner your card details. Most wallets hold quite a few cards, and since they are not that expensive, they are well worth the investment.
Travel Safety Tip #3 – Play head games with thieves
While I’m not religious, I keep religious objects in my pouches. I have a rosary in one that was blessed by Pope John Paul II, and I have a prayer card with Padre Pio on it and a few other saints given to me by a nun on a flight. In essence, as a reminder to anyone who may have been brought up following some sort of religion, that what you’ve just done (stolen this wallet), has not gone unseen, and what goes around comes around. Guilt and fear would hopefully set in, then karma!
Travel Safety Tip #4 – Keep local currency in your pocket
When I travel around for the day, I keep about $20 in my pocket, and some change for easy access. I don’t like digging into my pack to get my pouch just for a coffee or a bus ticket. Just keep some local currency in your pocket.
Travel Safety Tip #4 – Buy a lightweight backpack
I have a great backpack, which is lightweight, spacious and heavy duty. I’m a big fan of Kipling Backpacks. The material is super lightweight, doesn’t tear, you can throw it in the washing machine and holds a ton. Also, the zips on Kipling bags are tough to open. Even if you are trying! They are great.
My current bag has a space for a laptop or tablet depending on what I’m carrying. There are two pockets on the side for smaller water bottles and a drawstring interior to open wide and shove everything in. The double, metal clasp on the outside is expandable depending on what I have inside. There are two zip pockets in front, where I put maps, receipts, pen, paper – things that don’t matter.
This is my exact bag and I highly recommend it.
For reference, recently I had a 2-liter bottle of water, my tablet, a swimsuit, a small towel and my camera! You can also shove in your passport, phone and other items. My wallet is in the main compartment, and I had some maps in the front. It’s a fab pack and easy to carry around. I don’t carry a purse; always a backpack. It’s harder to steal while worn and you have your hands free. I always drape the straps around my legs when I am sitting so my pack is always physically attached to me. I NEVER EVER hang my purse/pack on the back of my seat. Never.
Here’s a great Kipling Wheelie suitcase. Again, very lightweight, complies with European travel standards and you can shove a lot in there!
Any rate, another nice thing about Kipling Backpacks is that they are easy to roll up and put in your suitcase for use when you get to your destination. Some airlines, like Easyjet, allow only one item – your suitcase! I often fill up my Kipling bag and stuff it inside the suitcase with the handles just hanging out. I hate the aggravation at check in where you are told embarrassingly that you are allowed one bad. Once I pass check-in and I’m on the gangway, I pull out my pack and then zip up my suitcase to put in the overhead compartment. Here are a few other great options from Kipling.
Travel Safety Tip #6 – Don’t wear expensive jewelry
I travel with a functional watch, a couple of rings and earrings. Nothing more. I leave valuables at home and the same for fancy necklaces, which can be easily snatched off in a second.
Travel Safety Tip #7 – Don’t accept drinks from strangers
This might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes you need to be reminded. I don’t accept drinks from anyone – male or female. I buy my own and keep an eye on it. A couple years ago, I was “ruffied” in London and robbed of £400 by two seemingly nice women I met who were in cahoots with a couple guys. They do this for a living, and even the restaurant was in on it! Having worked with college students for a decade, I felt stupid this happened and it could have had a much more dangerous ending other than just losing cash.
Travel Safety Tip #8 – Be cautious at night if staying in obscure areas
I needed to remind myself this recently. I took an excursion that got back to port around 10:15 and while the walk to my apartment wasn’t far, it was a bit in the dark. Luckily enough, one of the tour guides that was on the boat was staying at the same place, so I walked back with him. I forgot to put the light on, on my terrace, and my room was a bit in, ‘no-man’s land.’ Luckily, I had the flashlight on my phone ready. I don’t like feeling that way. I’m usually home by dark.
Travel Safety Tip #9 – Keep your ‘Americanism’ in check
As an American, I can say this. Americans talk too loud, particularly in groups, as if they are shouting over one another. And we tend to tell complete strangers our life stories in a form of bragging. This is not cool and you are feeding the stigma of the, ‘loud, brash American.’
While Americans think we live in the best place in the world, not everyone agrees, nor aspires to live there, nor wishes to know every detail of your life within 10 minutes of having met you. There are many countries that resent Americans because of these behaviors, and because we involve their country and countrymen in our never ending wars and world politics. Use respect, speak in normal tones and divulge information only when asked. Otherwise, you are feeding the stereotype and making yourself and others a target.
Travel Safety Tip #10 – Review your travel insurance policy
Do you have travel insurance? If you have a private health insurance plan, does it cover travel? And what exactly does it cover? Are you covered if you need to see a doctor, need urgent hospital care, need to cancel a trip, or need emergency funds?
When I travel in Europe, I have a European Health Care Card which covers me within Europe so long as I am there on holiday for less than 30 days. I also have an International Health Insurance Policy that will cover me for 90 days of travel per year – including the US.
Also, check with your credit card. I book travel with certain credit cards specifically because I know I am covered for things like theft and emergency medical attention. I always book travel with my Platinum AMEX as I find their coverage to be the best. Here are some great travel insurance tips for Canadians searching for the best travel insurance. And US citizens can check information on the World Nomad site.
Travel Safety Tip #11 – Use the in-room safe deposit box
Oftentimes, in room, you’ll find a safe deposit box. Sometimes they only hold small items, like wallets and passports, and others are large enough for your laptop. I’m a fan of the type where you put in your own 4-digit code. There are some that want you to swipe your credit card to close and open it. I’m not a fan of these as I don’t like giving anyone/anything unnecessary access to my cards. If all else fails or there isn’t one, then lock your items in your suitcase. And always have a couple of small suitcase locks on hand as well.
Travel Safety Tip #12 – Hang the ‘Do Not Disturb sign
I love the, ‘Do not disturb’ sign, and will hang it out whenever I can. For crying out loud, make your own bed and reuse the towels! Tell the cleaning staff that you don’t need anything changed in the room unless you need more water or toilet paper. The more you limit access to your room, the better. It’s easier on housekeeping because they can move on to the next room.
Travel Safety Tip #13 – Keep nothing of value in your suitcase
I often take the train and there’s nothing worse than worrying about where to store your suitcase. I’ve changed that. Go ahead. Steal my bag. There is nothing in there I care about. It contains the essentials, and if someone wants my soiled clothes and a bit of makeup, they can have it. I find a place to stow my bag and if it’s 20 seats away, I will stow it and forget about it. I do lock it, though. It won’t deter anyone who physically takes my bag. It will deter those from tampering with it while it’s not in my sight.
Hopefully these travel safety tips will come in handy on your next travel adventure. What do you do to keep safe while traveling? Drop me a line with your suggestions. I enjoy getting your feedback and would love to continue to add to this list.