Experienced traveler or first time on a plane, these rules remain the same. Always be aware of your surroundings and how you appear. While some places are coined safer than others, these practices should be applied regardless of where you are. Nothing kills a good trip faster than a stolen bag or passport.
- Always lock your belongings. Never trust anyone to be responsible for your stuff except you. There are plenty of stories from travelers being told luggage is fine to leave while going on multiday excursions, returning to no bags, no answers and no solutions. If staying in a hostel, take advantage of lockers and bring your own lock. Check out our packing list for more tips.
- Never keep all your cash/cards/IDs in the same place. Try to only take what you need for each day with you, and, if in a high-risk area, perhaps even keep it hidden on your body, with a small amount in a more obvious place. Keep extra cash and any identification you won’t need that day locked up.
- Know your closest exit. Always be aware of the best way out of a building or where you’re staying. You just never know.
- Be aware of helpful/interested/distracting people. There are more than enough scam, robbery, and kidnapping stories to go around that we won’t bother getting into more detail here. Just keep your guard up.
- Use the cloud. Upload photos, location, etc. every chance you’re able, on the crazy chance your phone/laptop/etc. somehow disappears. On this same note, share your location with a few trusted people.
- Move like a local. Blend in as much as you can in areas that aren’t resort-like, tourist hotspots. And even then, it doesn’t hurt. Don’t be that guy or girl standing on a street corner looking at your phone trying to figure out which direction to go. Step inside or lean off somewhere to look more natural. Try to not stare at your phone/directions as you walk and be aware of your surroundings. If things start to feel different or you feel the neighborhood shift, trust your gut.
- Bring a first aid kit. Anything is possible. Blisters, splinters, sunburn, who knows! And, who knows what will be available where you’re headed or how far you’ll have to travel to get it. You can order a simple full kit from pretty much anywhere, and then add whatever is missing.
- Be food-conscious. Meats left in the sun, unwashed vegetables, ice cubes and water. Something as simple as brushing your teeth from faucet water could derail your plans for the next 24+ hours. Be aware of where you’re going and how it differs from where you’re from. Food illness is never fun, and even less so when not in the comfort of your own home.
- If you’re going to party, do it smart. Don’t accept drinks from strangers, drugs are never a good idea, and stay sober enough to be aware of your surroundings and in control of your actions. We shouldn’t have to go into more detail here. Be smart, stay in control.
- Leave valuables at home. Flashy jewelry, designer bags, even some wedding bands are better left home than tempting a would-be thief. If you must bring, or your destination is pretty safe, remain cautious and aware.
- Make copies of necessary documents. Old-school printouts of reservations, contacts, manifests, and IDs come in handy often. Again, on the unfortunate chance of a lost or stolen phone, these will be your lifeline.
- Research before you go. Educate yourself on local customs, travel tips, crime rates, scams, exchange rates, average cost of meals, taxis, etc, and general geography. This will help reduce the chance of being caught off-guard with having to pay for something with no idea what the cost should be.
The more aware and prepared you are upon arrival, the more confident you’ll feel, allowing you to enjoy each moment of the journey.
We love feedback – let us know what you think of our list, if it helped you, or anything you would add. Safe & happy trails! Now pick the experience that’s right for you!