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The world isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time, and you can’t travel without knowing that there are good and bad people in the world. And it’s better to be over-prepared than to get hurt because you were naive of the hazards of being a traveler!

What are the potential problems of traveling and how do you prevent them?

Document your trip with an official government site, so they can keep track of you.

Americans can check the State Department‘s website for Travel Alerts and Warnings for countries around the world. These warnings date and give full descriptions of any dangers in an area, expressly describing past events and warnings and naming specific dangers and areas to avoid.

For example: if your destination is on a high alert because of recent political unrest, the State Department website will tell you exactly which parts of the country are most volatile and which you should avoid. The entire State Department website is a good travel tool to keep in mind as it has passport & visa information, travel tips, and emergency travel updates.

You can also register your trip with the State Department with their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) tool; this allows the State Department to know your dates of travel, location, contact information, nature of the visit, and other travel details.

It may seem extreme, but if you go missing in the Sahara Desert, the STEP program may be your only chance of the U.S. government rescuing you. It’s also a good idea to always give your travel itinerary and contact information to someone you know, most likely your parents or a friend, in case something should happen.

It may seem extreme, but if you go missing in the Sahara Desert, the STEP program may be your only chance of the U.S. government rescuing you. Click To Tweet

Do your research on your destination.!

Study up on things like the local laws, customs, and culture of your destination. Are same-sex relationships celebrated, or criminalized? What is the alcohol age limit? Are you allowed to chew gum? Not in Singapore!

I love to get in touch with locals via my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and ask them for location-specific advice like what areas to avoid, how common crime is, common tourist scams to be aware of, and other general safety tips. 

Have paper copies of all of your important travel documents.

Regardless of your destination, when traveling always be sure to carry a photocopy of your passport, ID, and itinerary including hotel and transport reservations.

When touring, lock up your real identification in a safe at your hotel, in your hostel locker or in your suitcase/backpack with a suitcase lock.

God forbid your phone or electronics get stolen, you should always have paper backups of your trip itinerary, embassy phone numbers, passports, and any medical paperwork. Having these can make a potential bad incident that much easier to fix.

Keep a low profile: when in doubt, blend.

Check out these incredibly simple ways to make sure your trip can be saved in case something goes wrong! Better safe than sorry, these tips may save a life—maybe even yours.
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If you’ve ever lived in a tourist hotspot, like Washington D.C. where I’m from, you’ll know there is nothing more annoying than an obvious tourist who is disrupting the daily flow of things by standing in the middle of the street, talking inappropriately loud, etc.

As Americans, we often get a bad rap as tourists, so it’s important to always be aware of all laws and customs in your host country.

Try not to be the stereotypical “ignorant” tourist; instead, be a humble visitor in the culture that you are a guest of.

Avoid political protests, any run-ins with police, drinking excessively, etc.

Never fully let your guard down.

The world is a crazy place, and it’s an unjust fact of this world that women are more likely to be harassed—or worse—just for existing, let alone traveling.

We’re gorgeous and perfect and, unfortunately, some people just can’t handle that (snap). Therefore, while only you can personally determine how safe you feel, I recommend traveling in groups at night when possible.

Also if you decide to go out partying at night take similar precautions as you would at home: always watch when a bartender pours you a drink, never accept drinks from strangers, never get too incoherent, always have your night planned out before you go out, etc.

Of course, there are nights when you can break some of these rules and be perfectly fine, but it’s better to be cautious. Personal safety should come before having fun and protecting your friends it’s just as important as making sure you get home safe yourself.

Don’t use your real phone number! Download Google Voice.

Download the Google Voice app and create a new phone number. You can text and call through the app, or even have messages forwarded as texts to your phone and reply there.

Use this number when meeting new people so that you can keep in touch, but so that they can’t look you up using your real phone number. It’s a great barrier in case things take a turn and you need to block them at some point.

Don't use your real phone number! Download Google Voice. Click To Tweet

Practicing some simple common sense and a little forethought can keep you safe and happy on any adventures you go on. And unfortunately, it’s often when we think we’re safest that we’re most at risk, so even if your friends think you’re crazy (or if you think you’re crazy), utilizing even some of these safety practices might just save a life, and definitely your vacation!

Read reviews on local businesses.

For every excursion, restaurant, or activity you do, I suggest reading online reviews first. Not only because you make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and will have a good time, but you ensure your safety.

When choosing where you want to go skydiving or scuba diving, make sure the reviews are positive and don’t have any concerning incidences.

Have any more travel safety tips you suggest? Let me know in the comments.

Gabby Beckford

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18 thoughts on “Travel Safety Tips Every Vacationer Needs to Know

  1. Mell

    Hey, just an edit you should do. The man at the centre of the Lindt hostage situatuion wasn’t a member of Isis. He was actually just a dude with issues and a known history of causing trouble. Please can you fix this in your article as I would hate for people to think that extremist groups are that active in Australia.

  2. jelisa

    great ideas gabby! i’ve traveled nonstop for 4 years and I’ve never done any of these. lol.
    thanks for bringing them to my attention

    1. Gabby

      To me these tips are like wearing a seat belt when you drive! I’m sure tons of people go their whole lives and don’t wear seat belts and are fine. But those who get in accidents REALLY wish they had. As with these tips, they’re just in case tips 🙂

  3. Sara

    Great tips! I always have a safety plan in place before I head off. I’m super paranoid, so I copy everything. Good to have hard copy for yourself, another left at home for a friend and I have a secured PDF of it all stored on my google drive.

    Also, I always advise my credit card company then re-check my insurance policy before I take off. Can’t be too cautious!

    1. Gabby

      Oh yes I always notify my banks as well! And having a hard copy and digital copy is always important, as I learned the hard way when I needed my visa for Turkey which was online on my phone, and I couldn’t get wifi at the Istanbul airport… Yikes!

  4. Eva Bosh

    I’m always trying to be as cautious as possible and some people would maybe say that I’m overreacting, but I believe firmly that it’s better to be safe than sorry! Thanks for the tips 😀

  5. Mimi

    I do most of these, although I’ve never documented my trips on official sites. I’d also add that you should keep your bags locked up when you’re out and about. Great post!

  6. Jessica Beare

    Interesting read! And I think very poignant in this day and age. I think it’s a really useful post for first time travellers who are maybe a bit anxious about travelling solo. I think a good addition would be to take a first aid course, even if it’s just one for the public, or a course on udemy so you know how to look after yourself and those around you that will help keep down your panic 🙂

    1. Gabby

      That’s a fantastic point too! It’s great for new travelers to have a little feel of a safety blanket when first starting to adventure 🙂

  7. Tarah

    Great tips! I always try to keep copies of important travel documents in my email or in a safe spot on my phone, just in case! Registering your trip with the state is a great idea-havent thought of that!

  8. Claire

    Wow, I just realized that I’ve never done any of these! Well, I always try to respect local customs, but I supposed I’m kind of naive in the way that I assume outright that most people are nice and don’t want to hurt me. Well I like to think of myself as optimistic rather than naive.

    1. Gabby

      It’s not a first thought to most people to think “Hmmm I should register my trip with the federal government”, lol! But their great Just In Case habits to have! I also believe the world is an inherently nice place but also believe in Just In Case 🙂

  9. Victoria

    Not sure I’d go as far as an anti-terrorism course, but I’ve definitely taken a first-aid course in case of injuries on the road, and a self-defence course. Great tips, though.

    1. Gabby

      Great advice as well! The Anti-Terrorism course sounds extreme but it basically trains you to always have the number of the closest embassy on hand, to know where your exists are, and when you should be aware of your surroundings 🙂 Its an online course! But self defense and first aid training are very smart!

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