Travelling for the first time floods your body and mind with a stream of emotions. Overwhelming excitement, joy, and happiness are mixed with a hearty dose of worry, stress, and doubt. Don’t worry, it’s normal! I remember my first solo overseas trip, sitting in the airport by myself, eager to leave but terrified at the same time. While travel is undoubtedly a life-changing experience full of fun and wonder, part of being a good traveler is taking heed of important travel safety tips, especially if you’re a first-timer. Being prepared for your trip is the best way to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. So, before you go, check out these must-know travel safety tips.
1. Share your itinerary
While some aspects of travel can be spontaneous and off-the-cuff, the chances are for your first trip you’re going to want to follow an itinerary. At least until you find your feet, anyway! Before you set off on your trip be sure to share your itinerary with those closest to you. You can print it off, email it or even put it in a shared cloud-based storage spot like Google Drive or Dropbox. Remember to update your itinerary and those who have it, should your plans change. You should also read our guide to avoiding these 16 epic travel mistakes!
2. Use a VPN
During your travels, you’ll need the internet a lot. Between coffee shops, libraries, and hotel rooms, you’ll be using a ton of public Wi-Fi to check your plans, make bookings, get directions, research on the go, and keep in touch with loved ones. Using public Wi-Fi isn’t risk-free. You could expose your personal data to anyone who knows how to access it, which could leave you in trouble and your information compromised. Connecting to a VPN before you connect to public internet options is the easiest and fastest way to keep your information safe. What is a VPN? It’s what a device needs to prevent it from data hacks and to keep you extra safe.
3. Use a Travel Card
Carrying large amounts of cash can potentially put you at risk. To minimise this, you may like to top-up a pre-paid travel card with your spending money and keep your cash carrying to a minimum. One great benefit of a travel card is the amount on it is pre-loaded so, should it be stolen or misplaced, it can’t be maxed out like a credit card. Choosing to load smaller amounts on it, like $200-$400 dollars at a time, is another great way to minimise risk. Another benefit is you’re able to stick to a travel budget a lot better as you aren’t as tempted to dip into your savings or overextend yourself on your credit card.
4. Don’t overpack electronics
Try to pack smarter wherever you can by bringing things that do double-duty! For example, smartphones now are so powerful you could easily use on as your camera, video player, music player, computer, and more. A far cry from my first solo trip in the 2000’s when I had to lug around a ton of electronics (hello, ancient, chunky iPod!) Having a lot of extra electronics means more stuff you have to cart around and worry about. Trust me, you don’t need all that stuff anyway – it’s important to take time to put your electronics down and be present when you travel.
5. Be aware of those around you
Okay, that sounds pretty basic but there’s more to it than you may think. There are people out there who have made targeting and scamming tourists their entire job. They’re so good at it and have devised such elaborate, heart-wrenching scams you may not even know it’s happening to you.
In the first instance, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t ever get so distracted by a commotion, busy bus terminal, or a beautiful sight that you forget about your handbag, backpack, pockets, or luggage. Always be aware of people coming close to you and in your personal space, especially in crowded areas like popular tourist sites and public transport. Never pick anything up off the ground or take something from someone, even a friendship bracelet. Don’t help anyone find something, don’t keep things in your pockets, don’t sign a petition, don’t go to someone’s house for a local dinner. You should also read our guide to avoiding 12 common scams!
Most importantly, always trust your instincts. Quite often, especially as women, we feel so uncomfortable being perceived as rude or disrespectful that we put our own personal safety at risk. It’s much better you come off as a rude tourist than end up in a situation you can’t come back from. It sounds scary but being well-informed and alert is far better than the potential alternatives.
6. Have a list of important numbers
Do you know how to dial the emergency services in the country you’re visiting? Is it 911, 000, 111, or something else entirely? Do you know how to ask for help in the local language? These basic things, even having them written down and tucked away in your day bag, could be a literal lifesaver. Make sure you always have a list of emergency and non-emergency phone numbers with you and that it’s not just stored on your phone!
7. Don’t dismiss your health
When you’re away from home, it’s important that you get medical help if you need it. I remember reading once that people often don’t call an ambulance or go to the hospital for help because they don’t want to cause a fuss or be a bother. I’ve actually seen Matt do exactly that when having an anaphylactic reaction overseas! Even as his airway was closing up, he didn’t want to be a bother. I’ve done it too – putting off getting help because part of me didn’t want to be sick. Trust me, it’s always best to get help if you need it, no matter what the problem turns out to be.
Make sure you have all your prescriptions filled and with you for travel, that you have travel insurance that covers you, should you need it for medical issues, and that you have a medicine bag with essentials to tide you over until you can get more help (i.e. cold and flu medication to get you through until the doctor opens).
This post is in cooperation with PR Consultancy however, all advice and insight remain objective and genuine. Thanks, PR Consultancy for your support, allowing us to keep doing what we love!
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