My preferred style of travel is to explore the world as a solo woman or with another female. Sure, many might argue that it would be safer to travel on organised trips, but I prefer to travel slower, plan my own days and encounter challenges on the road myself.
Do I worry about safety on the road? Of course I do, although I’ve learned that using common sense and following these simple behaviours and rules is the key to staying safe whilst travelling abroad.
These are my top 9 tips for safe travel.
Separate your money and Credit Cards
Don’t carry all your cash and credit cards in the same wallet. Separate them and put some money in a safe location in a hidden sleeve in your suitcase or backpack.
The same applies for exploring a new city, leave some cash and cards that you won’t need for the day in your locked luggage in the hotel or hostel room.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Tourists are easy to recognise, which gives local thieves and scammers an easy target. Try to use common sense at all times and be polite but firm with people who you feel may be trying to scam you out of money or belongings.
TIP: Learn the exchange rate upon arrival into new country and find out the approximate cost of a taxi or transport in local currency to take you there. Once you exchange currency, learn the bills (which can be very confusing in high denominations) and separate the fare for the taxi before you get in.
Taxi drivers all over the world prey on the fact that you have just arrived to their country from your own, you’re tired and disorientated and have probably just exchanged cash for local currency and don’t know what its worth just yet. If you are flashing your new cash to them, they will have no problem to pluck a bill from your hand that is worth 10 times more than what the fare actually costs.
Always Buy Travel Insurance.
They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. I agree with this 100%. Over the last decade of travelling, this is an expense I always include in my budget.
Keep your wallet or handbag where you can see it.
Men, keep your wallets in your front pocket to avoid being pick-pocketed.
Women, wear your zipped handbag or backpack on the front of your body, especially in busy areas and on public transport to avoid being targeted by thieves.
When making purchases in shops or in view of public, try not to flash your cash or show the contents of your wallet to anyone.
Plan how to get home safely
Before you go exploring a new city, source the safest way to get back to your accommodation. Don’t take the short cut in an unknown area or walk home late at night, just to save a few dollars.
If you are planning on spending a night out on the town, budget and keep aside enough cash to get a taxi home. Better yet, organise to meet and return home with friends or people that may be staying at your place of accommodation too.
Listen to your intuition.
We’ve all got one. Listen to it! Your intuition will tell you if you have wandered into a dangerous area and to turn around, or if some dodgy character is trying to be-friend you so they can scam you.
Use your Smart phone even smarter.
Get the most out of your iPhone. Learn how your Google Maps App can help you know where you are at all times, even offline.
If you plan ahead, use the hostel wifi or even McDonalds (free wifi) and load your Google Maps location, drop a pin of the address of your accommodation. Follow your locater, or as I like to refer to it as the ‘blue dot’.
It’s always a good idea to take a business card or map from your accommodation which has address details in the local language. This helps if you need to give directions to a taxi driver or ask a local about a bus or metro that will take you close to your hostel/hotel.
Use the safe or lock your valuables away.
Many people are very poor and desperate for any extra cash. In many countries, the wages are extremely low which is why people will steal your valuables if given the chance.
I always lock my valuables, including my laptop and camera inside my big backpack or suitcase or use the room safe if one is provided.
When I stay in a hotel room alone, I do the same thing. I don’t trust the housekeeping staff, probably because I’ve previously been the victim of stolen cash hidden in my unlocked backpack.
I’ve also used a strong bike lock to secure my bag to my bunk bed or kitchen sink in some countries, because I didn’t want the whole thing to be taken or stolen whilst sleeping on overnight train journeys.
Scan your passport and other important documents.
Scan these documents and send them to your email address so that you can gain access to them from anywhere in the world. In some countries, if you lose your passport, it can take up to 6 weeks to find a replacement.
If you have previously scanned this, you can make the process much quicker by producing a copy of all the important details etc.
Do you have any more safe travelling tips to add to this list? We’d love to hear what you do to keep safe on the road.