When you’re gearing up for your next big trip, you’ll likely advance through the important stages of travel first. From securing your passport to booking your flight and hotel, you’ll feel like you’re ready to take on the world. Before you go to pack your suitcase, take some time to learn about the safest travel practices. When you’re visiting a new country, you face a new set of challenges. From learning how to navigate city streets to asking for the bathroom in a foreign language, there is plenty of room for error during your trip. To ensure you’re being as safe as possible, adopt a few strategic moves both before you leave and while you’re visiting your selected destination.

Know Before You Go

How to stay safe abroad: woman in glasses sitting on cafe and using laptop

Before you embark on your next great adventure, check for any travel advisories posted by either the American State Department or the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Both agencies frequently update tourists on any potential threats looming in a specific area. If civil unrest is taking place in the country you’ve chosen to visit, a travel advisory is issued to detail what’s going on. The advisory includes information pertaining to the issue itself and a general statement declaring whether it’s still safe to travel there. This is important to check in advance, as you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a tumultuous ordeal.

After you’ve checked for any travel advisories, grab your notebook and look up a some info to write down:

  • Determine if there are any laws of the country you’re visiting that might cause some legal trouble for you. Note any traffic laws, laws pertaining to alcohol consumption, and general practices the country is known for upholding that you wouldn’t normally think would be a problem. Knowing ahead of time what you and can’t do in a foreign place, and where you don’t know anyone.
  • Find out and save the relevant emergency numbers for where you’re visiting during your trip. Include local hospitals, police stations, and the American embassy or consult located in the country (if you’re a U.S. citizen, of course). While you may not need to contact the embassy for any reason, it’s best to have the number written down in case of emergencies.
  • Figure out a few key phrases in the native language of where you’re going that you’ll want to have handy. Some must-know words: bathroom, allergy, hospital, police, and help. Basic greetings are also useful, as is learning how to ask for someone who speaks English.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

how to stay safe abroad: woman tourist walking on the street in Europe

Being aware of your surroundings is essential when visiting a new country. Simple gestures like using a map or your camera may seem like relatively harmless actions, but they can make you vulnerable to crime.

Locals who observe you following a map quickly understand you’re a tourist, which can leave you susceptible to robberies and other offenses. Avoid actively following directions on your phone or with a printed map. Read through the directions before you leave your hotel or stop into a shop along the way to your destination. If you need to check your phone to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, pretend you’re browsing your social media feed .

Never advertise the fact that you’re lost. If you’re unsure of where you are, ask a police officer for directions or find the nearest hotel and speak with the concierge.

You may be tempted to bring a new digital camera along with you wherever cheap round trip flights take you, but it’s best to leave flashy electronics and expensive items, such as shoes and clothing, at home. If you unpack a professional camera and start snapping photos everywhere you go, you signal to everyone around you that you’re a tourist harboring expensive items. Strategically picks spots to take your vacation photos and avoid wearing or carrying anything showing how much money you have.

In addition to practicing safety in terms of following directions and taking pictures, it’s equally important to refrain from divulging any personal information while you’re out exploring. Never tell anyone you don’t know or trust the name of the hotel where you’re staying, which room number you’re booked under, or where you’re going. Keeping that info private can keep you from becoming the victim of a crime.

Public Transportation Is Your New Best Friend

how to stay safe abroad: woman passenger with casual suit using smart mobile phone in the Skytrain rails or subway for travel in the big city

Using a ride sharing app might seem sensible, but it’s best to rely on public transportation when visiting a new country. It maximizes your safety, since you won’t run the risk of entering the wrong ride share or an unmarked cab.

Some public transit pointers for when you’re visiting a new country:

  • Study the available public transportation routes before you leave home.
  • It’s also a good idea, if you’re taking a bus alone, to sit close to the driver and avoid the top of a double-decker bus during nighttime hours.
  • Whenever possible, if you’re traveling by yourself, to sit among a crowd of people so you don’t appear alone or isolated. There’s always power in numbers.

If you have to take a taxi..

  • Be sure to check that it’s is clearly marked on the outside with distinguishing signs or features.
  • Don’t be bothered to ask the driver for identification before entering the vehicle.
  • Avoid sitting in the front seat next to the driver.
  • Exit the vehicle as soon as you have paid for your trip.
  • Always ask the taxi driver to drop you off in a safe, well-lit area.

Have any of your own tips or advice to stay stay abroad? Leave them as comments below!

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