Whether you are heading to a destination for a short vacation or long-term travel, your safety during the trip is important. Traveling safely requires you to understand the potential risks of the location you’re going to and prepare your trip accordingly.
When traveling, you must take measures to protect against common risks such as having your money or travel documents stolen. However, you’ll also want to understand current travel advisory risks for your location.
Learn the top travel safety tips you can use on your next trip to ensure that you and your loved ones enjoy the trip and return safely.
1. Share Your Travel Information
One of the most important things you can do to stay safe while traveling is to share your travel information with someone you trust, such as a partner, partner, or sibling. Create a document to print out or email friends and family that contains your travel plan details and personal information, including:
- Copies of your flight itinerary
- Copy of your passport or Visa and government ID
- Geographic location you plan to stay (Country, City/Town)
- Address and contact information of the hostel, Airbnb, or hotel
- Your contact information, including phone number, full name, home address, email, or social media handles
- Any information regarding tours or events you’ll be participating in
Giving these details to those closest to you ensures someone knows where you are and how to get a hold of you if needed. If something happens to you, they will have quick access to your information to help authorities handle the situation efficiently.
2. Research Potential Hazards
Understanding potential hazards you may find at your destination can help you prepare for your trip. Hazards can include political, social, or governmental unrest, general crime, or health concerns of a particular location.
To research your destination, you can visit the following sites:
- Travel.State.Gov. Run by the U.S. Department of State, this database provides travel advisories for any area worldwide. You can view a color-coded advisory map or search for a specific location on the main site. This resource also offers a 4-tier warning system that moves from “exercise normal precautions” to “do not travel”.
- CDC Travel Health Notices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers up-to-date alerts about health-related travel matters. You can search for your location through their database or browse the most recent concerts.
You can also view the U.S. Department of Commerce’s travel advisory page, for more information, specifically regarding Covid-19 requirements for your destination.
3. Pack Essentials for Your Trip
When packing for a trip, you may focus on clothing, shoes, and toiletries rather than safety essentials. However, it’s vital to pack a few safety items for your trip to ensure you are safe in a variety of situations.
For example, you can pack a first aid kit for minor injuries to accompany you on your travels so you don’t have to navigate an unfamiliar city for supplies. You might also download the Red Cross emergency app for extra support.
Consider including a face mask, pickpocket-proof garments, a safety whistle, glow bracelets, and mace or pepper spray in your luggage. The TSA allows one 4-ounce container of self-defense spray as long as it’s checked in and has a safety mechanism, so it doesn’t open during a flight.
If you are going on an intrastate trip in the U.S., consider packing headgear for riding bikes or motorcycles. Wearing a helmet can keep you safe and prevent road trip injuries.
4. Familiarize Yourself With Your Destination
One of the best ways to stay safe is to familiarize yourself with the area before you go. This includes researching public transport options, locating safe havens like police stations and healthcare facilities like hospitals close to where you are staying, and knowing the phone numbers for emergency services.
If you are traveling to a country where you do not speak the language, it is also a good idea to learn some basic phrases before you go. This way, if you find yourself in an emergency, you will be able to communicate with people who can help you. You can take a class online or use an app like Duolingo to begin learning.
5. Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings
Once you’re on your trip, paying attention to who and what is around you can help you avoid dangerous situations. If you’re meeting new people, do not share too much with strangers, like information about where you are staying, who you are traveling with, or your itinerary.
If you’re in a crowded place, be aware of pickpockets and keep your valuables close to you. You can find tamper-proof or theft-proof backpacks with features like cut-proof fabrics, anchor bars and compartment locks, RFIDSafe scan blockers, and hidden pockets.
When taking public transportation, don’t fall asleep and leave yourself vulnerable to theft or attack. If someone tries to distract you or touch you, be assertive and say no. Always trust your gut feeling – if something feels wrong, it probably is.
6. Travel with GPS Trackers
There are a few reasons why traveling with GPS trackers is important. GPS trackers help you locate friends, family, and traveling companions and help you reorient yourself if you become lost in an unfamiliar city or foreign country. GPS trackers are ideal for families traveling together or parents with small children to prevent them from getting lost in the airport or other large public spaces.
You can also purchase tracker tags for baggage like Tile Pro or Apple AirTag. These trackers can send you real-time alerts indicating where your luggage is located. They also typically have a slim, lightweight design, so you can attach them to wallets or belts or keep one in your pocket.
7. Use Travel Locks
According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 220,000 bags were mishandled in April 2022. This means the bags were either stolen, lost, or damaged.
Travel locks can help prevent theft and keep your belongings safe while on the go. There are numerous types of travel locks, from combination locks to cable locks to locks that only open with a keycard. You can also purchase TSA-approved locks that can be opened with a TSA master key for inspection and feature an indicator that shows if your bag was inspected or opened.
You should also invest in a portable travel lock for your hotel room, such as an electronic door stop or wedge to put against your hotel door. This can help to prevent unwanted access to your room and sound an alarm if someone tries to enter your room without your permission or while you sleep.
8. Purchase Travel Insurance
Vacations can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars; the average cost of a 12-day international trip is approximately $3,251. If you need to cancel your trip for unforeseen reasons or experience an emergency while traveling, you may need to pay a substantial amount out of pocket if you don’t have insurance. The average cost of travel insurance is around 5% to 6% of the total cost of your trip, making it a worthwhile investment.
There are various types of travel insurance policies, depending on your destination. Trip cancellation or “cancel for any reason” travel insurance will reimburse you for your trip’s prepaid, non-refundable costs. You may also be eligible to make a claim if you or a traveling companion becomes sick or injured while on your trip.
Travel medical insurance is crucial to avoid paying excessive healthcare costs if you become sick or injured overseas. Most standard health insurance in the U.S. won’t cover overseas health costs. Travel medical insurance covers doctor and hospital bills, medications, lab work and X-rays, and ambulance service up to the policy’s limits.
You can also get baggage insurance for lost or stolen luggage, missed connection insurance for missed departures, travel delay insurance to reimburse you the cost of restaurant and hotel stays, and flight cancellation insurance for coverage due to flights canceled due to inclement weather.
9. Never Keep Your Money All in One Place
While traveling, you want to avoid making yourself a target for thieves or being stranded if you lose your belongings. Instead of carrying all your cash and credit cards in one place, secure them in separate locations.
For example, you could keep a card and cash in your on-body money belt, some in your hotel room safe, and some in a theft-proof backpack or purse. If you’re traveling with a partner, you can split your money between the two of you. That way, if something happens to either of you, the other will still have access to funds.
You can also use prepaid travel cards instead of conventional debit or credit cards to limit your financial loss if it is stolen.
10. Register With The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Check the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for safety tips while traveling. STEP is a U.S. government safety program for travelers, which enrolls you at the nearest U.S. Embassy so you can stay up-to-date on important alerts and have a travel record.
The program offers a useful Smart Traveler app with numerous benefits, including:
- Providing the locations of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate
- A Find People feature, which allows you to find and contact people in your area who can help you if you’re in trouble
- An Alert Me feature to receive alerts about safety issues
- Provides updates on security conditions in different countries, information on passport requirements, and other travel-related topics
Stay Safe While You Travel
When it comes to travel, safety should always be a top priority. No one wants to be in a dangerous situation while on vacation or a business trip. Following some simple tips for safe traveling can help keep yourself safe while you’re away from home.
Explore our other blog posts for more helpful information on where to visit, what to pack, and how to plan your trip.