A Guide to Staying Safe While Traveling

Stay safe while exploring with this extensive collection of safety tips for travel.

The Traveling Shopaholic

8/28/20236 min read

woman seeing mountain during daytime
woman seeing mountain during daytime

Traveling the world is an exhilarating experience that broadens your horizons, introduces you to new cultures, and creates lasting memories. However, it's crucial to remember that safety should always be a top priority during your adventures. Whether you're a seasoned globetrotter or a first-time explorer, these essential safety tips will help you navigate unfamiliar territories with confidence and peace of mind.

1. Research Your Destination Thoroughly:

Before embarking on your journey, dedicate time to researching your destination. Familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and potential hazards. Look into any travel advisories or health alerts issued by your government. The US Department of State has a travel advisory page that is very helpful. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and avoid risky situations.

2. Stay Connected:

Maintaining communication with your loved ones and having access to emergency contacts is paramount. Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, and consider using a travel app that allows you to share your location in real-time. Ensure your phone is fully charged and consider carrying a portable charger for emergencies.

3. Secure Your Belongings:

Pickpocketing and theft can happen anywhere, so take steps to safeguard your belongings. Invest in a sturdy anti-theft backpack (like THIS top rated one) or purse with lockable zippers (like THIS). Use hotel safes to store your valuables when you're not using them. Carry your own lock if you stay in hostels so you can lock up your belongings in a locker.

4. Purchase Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance is a lifeline in case of unexpected emergencies, such as medical issues, trip cancellations, or lost baggage. Review different insurance options to find coverage that suits your needs, and keep a copy of your policy details handy.

5. Blend In with Locals:

While it's natural to stand out as a tourist, making an effort to blend in with the local culture can deter potential scammers and reduce your vulnerability. Dress appropriately for your destination, observe local customs, and learn a few basic phrases in the local language to navigate more comfortably. Check out this guide for recommendations on what to wear to more conservative countries.

6. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings:

Being mindful of your environment is crucial. Avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas, especially at night. Be cautious when using headphones or staring at your phone, as distractions can make you an easier target. Walk confidently and keep your head on a swivel.

7. Carry Important Documents Safely:

Photocopy or digitally scan important documents, such as your passport, driver's license, and travel insurance, and store them securely online. Carry physical copies in a separate location from the originals. In case of theft or loss, this will expedite the process of replacing your documents.

8. Be Cautious with Public Wi-Fi:

Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient but can pose security risks. Avoid accessing sensitive information, such as online banking or personal accounts, when connected to public Wi-Fi. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for an added layer of security.

9. Eat and Drink Wisely:

Sampling local cuisine is a highlight of any trip, but exercise caution when choosing where to eat and drink. Research restaurants and street food vendors with good hygiene practices and positive reviews. Make sure your food is VERY hot, avoid salads and stick with fruits that you can peel. Stay hydrated and be wary of consuming tap water in areas where it's not safe (this includes ice!) THIS UV water bottle has come in handy for drinking tap water all over the world! You can also opt for a physical filtration water bottle to ensure clean drinking water.

10. Trust Your Intuition:

Above all, trust your instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, remove yourself from it immediately. It's better to prioritize your safety than to worry about being polite or fitting in. Be weird. Be rude ;)

11. Consider Carrying a Safety Alarm:

As an added layer of security, I carried THIS device around all over South America. I just clipped it to my purse when I was out walking around town. It is light weight, travel friendly and is very loud... It will absolutely draw attention and possibly deter a potential attack.

12. Register with your Embassy:

The United States Department of State has a free program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) designed to:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country

  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

If you're outside of the United States, check your with your country to see if they have a similar program. Canada has a program HERE.

13. Mind your Money:

Let your bank know where you are headed before you leave. This way you can prevent the dreaded lockdown of all of your cards while abroad. Most banks have a travel alert function that makes this easy.

Make sure you stash some extra cash in a separate part of your suitcase/backpack. This could come in handy if your wallet/purse gets stolen! I hide a little extra cash hidden DEEP within my carry on. You can hide some rolled up in an empty chapstick tube or in this clever hairbrush

14.Pack a Travel First Aid Kit:

Be prepared! Don't let a common medical issue put too much of a damper on your travels. As an emergency medicine provider, I don't travel anywhere without at least a small stash of first aid necessities. You can purchase one that's already put together, or you can piece items together that fit your needs. View my personal kit HERE. IT's also a good idea to bring a small collection of common medications. See my pocket pharmacy recommendations HERE.

15.Avoid Risky Behaviors:

Don't put yourself into sticky situations! Most of this advice seems super obvious, but it's good to mention once again.

  • In general, it's not advisable to hitch hike. There are some countries where this is widely accepted and safe, however, is it worth the risk?

  • Avoid consuming too much alcohol or taking substances from strangers (this sounds like a DARE program doesn't it?!) Definitely have fun, just do it responsibly!

  • Don't do something dangerous "just for the picture". It's not worth hanging out near the edge of the Grand Canyon or something similarly scary for the 'gram. There are several cases each year where tourists around the world have fatal accidents performing stunts like this.

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Specific safety Tips for Hotel Rooms:

1. Choose Reputable Accommodations: When booking hotels, opt for well-reviewed and reputable establishments. Read traveler reviews to get insights into the safety of the area, the quality of the accommodation, and the experiences of fellow female travelers.

2. Opt for Higher Floors: Whenever possible, request a room on higher floors. These rooms are typically less accessible from the outside and provide an extra layer of security against unauthorized entry.

3. Utilize Security Features: Lock your room door and use any additional security features provided, such as deadbolts and chains. If you notice any issues with the locks or security, notify hotel staff promptly. Some readers use THIS gadget as an added measure on their door, or THIS door alarm.

4. Be Discreet: Avoid displaying your room number in public areas and refrain from discussing personal travel plans with strangers. Keep your room key card in a safe place and don't leave it unattended. Ask for two room keys when you check in even if you're traveling alone. This gives the impression that you have a travel companion.

5. Request a Room Close to Elevators: Rooms closer to elevators and main corridors can provide quicker access to help if needed. However, be cautious about rooms directly across from elevators, as they can be noisy and less private

Remember, your safety is of the utmost importance. By staying informed, trusting your instincts, and taking proactive measures, you can embark on your adventures with confidence, experiencing the world in all its beauty while ensuring your well-being every step of the way. Happy travels!

woman walking near staircase
woman walking near staircase
a long hallway with white walls
a long hallway with white walls