Traveling abroad can be an excellent experience. You’re trying new food, seeing new culture, meeting new people, relaxing…and then you notice your wallet is gone. Worse yet, you’ve ended up being a guest in a Third World jail. Don’t let your vacation become soured by one of these situations; follow these ten tips to stay safe while abroad.
Prepare. Before your trip, make sure you make copies of all important documents. Such as your passport, medical insurance cards, credit cards, and travel itinerary. Leave a copy with a friend or family member and take another copy with you on your journey.
Don’t draw attention. Flashing valuables (jewelry, expensive cameras, etc.) makes you a target for theft. Leave the valuables at home and try your hardest not to look like a tourist–it signals your unfamiliarity with the area and invites thieves to pull one over on you.
Party safely. Partying abroad can be fun but always keep your wits about you. Never accept an open drink or drug from someone and never leave your own drink unattended. Always take a taxi home, even if you think you’re not too drunk to find your own way.
Watch out for sketchy situations. Thieves love chaos theory and they’ll create a situation that leaves you frazzled in order to slip a hand in your pocket or purse. If someone rattles something in your face, stumbles into you, or is “too” friendly, immediately shift your attention to your valuables. If you feel as though you’re being followed or trouble is coming for you, cross the street or take a taxi. Sometimes spending extra money on a cab or losing time by taking the longer route is well worth it.
Be a local. Knowing your way around and knowing the language (at least common phrases) will help you avoid ending up in a dangerous situation. Make sure you understand where the most dangerous areas of the city are and avoid ending up lost in them.
Be aware. Don’t be plugged into your phone, don’t use headphones, and don’t be too relaxed. Always maintain a good level of observation so you can prevent dangerous situations. Plus, you’ll see more of local culture! Whenever you’re carrying a bag or purse, have it zipped, in your hands, and in front of your body and never let it out of your eye-site while sitting at a restaurant or bar.
Stay in touch with friends at home. If you were to go missing for a couple days, would anyone notice? Always make sure someone knows where you’re traveling, when, and who with and has the phone numbers for your acquaintances.
Carry a fake. Having a back-up wallet or phone allows you to hand something over if aggressively forced to without having to give up the real deal. Make sure you leave some cash and old credit cards in the wallet and a sim card in the phone so it doesn’t look fake.
Separate your cash. Always carry an emergency bill somewhere other than your purse or pocket. Storing a $20 in your shoe might make it a little smelly but it can really come in handy in a pinch.
Don’t forget about home. Your personal safety is top priority but don’t comprise your home’s safety while on vacation.
Courtesy of the Huffington Post