By: Corey English
Summer is upon us. What better way to enjoy summer – TRAVELING ABROAD. While traveling can be fun, it also can also be quite dangerous. When you are venturing out, you may want to consider these safety tips to make sure you protect yourself and others with you.
1) Choose your ground transportation wisely
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. In choosing your transportation, look for vehicles in good working order and functioning seatbelts. Do some research prior to your trip by investigating the safety records of bus companies or the tourist company you may be plan on using. While fun, mopeds can be quite dangerous. Choose your transportation wisely.
2) Check in with the State Department
Check the State Department website https://www.state.gov/ to get trustworthy, updated details about wherever you’re visiting. Find out everything, from vaccinations needed, local laws, and any travel warnings (including crime and security warnings). While you’re on the website, head over to the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) page https://step.state.gov/. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By signing up for this program, the U.S. Embassy can contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
3) Review the escape route in your hotel room
Like everyone, you look for the amenities rather than the escape routes posted on the back of the hotel door. Before going to the pool or getting that massage, take a few minutes to look at the emergency escape routes. It may just save your life.
4) Leave an itinerary and emergency contact
The point for the vacation is to fall off the grid, but be careful to not fall too far off. Just leaving some basic information as to what city or cities you will be visiting and when you will return is a good start. Also, let someone know where you are staying and the number there. If you are able to, try checking in daily with just a quick email. This could start sending warning flags if they do not hear from you or can alert authorities of your situation.
5) Scan a copy of your passport
Before you leave, scan a copy of your passport, e-mail it to yourself and take a photo of it to save on your cell phone. That way, if you need your passport while out (but it’s locked up in your hotel safe), you’ll have access to all your details. Plus, if it’s stolen, getting a replacement will be that much easier.
6) Confirm visitors with the hotel desk
Before you let this person in, call down to the front desk to verify that someone from the property needs access to your room. Criminals have been known to pose as hotel workers in order to get inside rooms.
7) Don’t flash your cash or valuables
Keep your cash separated, with some spending money easily accessible and the rest hidden, so you are not looking like a tourist or a target. Also, while today we use our smartphones as our maps and tour guides — thieves love to grab cell phones and run off. Make sure to lock up your valuables once you return to your hotel room.
8) Let your bank know where you are going
It never fails, you are traveling and the bank detects fraud. It can freeze your accounts and prevent you from making purchases until you get on the phone with them. Let them know when and where you will be traveling. Also, if your travel plans change, be sure to keep them updated. You do not want to be considered the thief using your own credit and debit cards.
9) Steer clear of animals
Nothing is cuter than taking pictures with stray dogs and cats roaming the streets, but resist the urge to get too close. Not every animal will have their vaccinations. A case of rabies can easily ruin a vacation.
10) Save emergency numbers
911 does not work everywhere. Find out what the local emergency hotlines are and save them to your phone (preferably on speed dial). You may want to write them down as well. Who really remembers numbers these days, but it is good to have two forms of back up for emergencies. Also research the nearest U.S. embassies or consulates and save those addresses and phone numbers as well.
11) Trust your instincts!
Do not ignore those hairs on your arm standing up or that funny feeling in your gut. Stop what you’re doing, pay closer attention to your surroundings and situation. These feelings may just keep you safe and out of harm’s way.