Travel Safety Tips

We have been very lucky when we travel – knock wood. Nothing really terrible has ever occurred to us on vacation. However, sometimes bad things will happen, and without warning, when you are on a trip. With some planning, preparation, and anticipation of what COULD happen, you can travel with a little more peace of mind.

Whenever you travel, your personal safety should always be your first priority. If you follow these simple travel safety tips, it will help you ensure you have nothing but fond memories of your vacation.

Hotels

  • Tips to stay safe on vacation for solo travellersDon’t carry your key card and envelope together. The envelope has the room number on it. Commit your room number to memory and leave the envelope in the room
  • Do not say your room number out loud in public
  • Do not go to your room if you are being followed. Pretend you forgot something and go back to the lobby/reception area
  • Pack a rubber door stopper. This is a very simple way to make break-ins to your room a little more complicated. This small device placed under the door on the inside makes it difficult to open the door.
  • Some people will place the hotel room chair under the door knob for added security – a great tip to stay safe when travelling
  • Do NOT answer the door to anyone you do not know or expect. Place your valuables in the room safe but remember to set a very unique code. Really valuable items should be left in the hotel’s central safe
  • Take photos of the items you put in the safe if they go missing.
  • When using the pool, sauna, or fitness rooms, do not leave your cell phone, room key, or other valuables unattended
  • If staying on the ground floor, ensure the windows or doors leading to the outside cannot be opened or unlocked easily
  • Locate the security cameras throughout the hotel and be aware of your surroundings

Around Town

  • Make it more challenging for thieves to grab any of your personal items
  • Do not let yourself be an easy target for thieves or other criminals
  • Be careful going into places or spaces that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times – be vigilant, alert, and careful
  • Carry purses with cross-the-chest straps
  • Have your camera strap around your neck
  • Get a strap for your cell phone that you can wrap around your wrist
  • Carry cash in a money pouch that you can strap to your waist under your shirt
  • Avoid wearing really valuable jewellery or watches when out and about. If inexpensive jewellery gets stolen, the loss won’t be too significant.
  • Never mention which hotel you are staying at when you are out and about
  • Do not advertise your itinerary, where you are going, or what you are doing in public
  • Try to locate safe spaces where you can get to if you are feeling that you are in danger – police stations, fire departments, hospitals, etc, are all great places to go if you feel unsafe
  • Always have a good map of the area with you so you can find your way around a new city. Our favourite guidebooks are the DK EYEWITNESS TRAVEL books. They have great maps with excellent detail of the area.

 

Vehicles

  • When renting a car, consider getting insurance where your personal belongings are protected if the vehicle is broken into
  • If you rent a car, know where the local office of the rental car company is if you need it
  • Never leave apparent valuables in plain sight for a quick smash and grab. Take advantage of the trunk or the locking glove compartments where necessary
  • Lock your car whenever you get out
  • If you have an external GPS, take it down and lock it up when you get out of the car
  • Park your vehicle in well-lit and visible areas. Avoid less visible dark spots
  • Never let your gas tank get too empty when on a road trip. You never want to run out of fuel in an unknown area where there may not be many gas station options available to you
  •  If you sense you are being followed when you are driving, head directly to the nearest police station. This will deter most criminals from following through on their plans
  • If you are on a road trip, and using your own vehicle, ensure it is Roadtrip Ready before you head out. Take it to your favourite mechanic for a full inspection before your trip.

 

Travel Insurance

  • Check with your insurance provider about getting the best travel insurance for your needs
  • Does your insurance cover hospitalization and medical care in case you get injured or really sick while away
  • Does your plan cover you for medical evacuations when necessary?
  • In the event of a natural disaster, or other dangerous situations, will you be covered for altering your plans?

Other Travel Safety Tips

  • Upload your cell phone photos to your ‘cloud’ regularly to ensure you keep as many of your digital travel memories safe
  • I often bring extra SD cards and change them out, leaving used ones in a secure place. I do this so that If I lose any photos or videos, it is just what was on one card.
  • Use a passport protector to keep it dry and secure around your neck when you travel.
  • Take photographs of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, and other personal information if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
  • In foreign countries, locate your country’s local embassy in case you need it.
  • Know the water safety of the area you are visiting. Not all countries or communities have safe drinking water at all times.
  • In third world countries, only drink factory-sealed beverages. If you have ever seen Slumdog Millionaire, you may never trust bottled beverages again.
  • Watch your bartender make your drinks do not drink beverages at a bar that a stranger has provided. Keep an eye on your drinks to prevent tampering.
  • Food safety standards are not the same all over the world. Be careful with what you eat, but don’t forget to enjoy the local cuisine. Just be cautious. Don’t forget to pack a Health & Wellness kit.

One of the most overlooked of travel safety tips:    Never post on social media that you will be going on vacation. This advertises to criminals who may see it that you will not be home – and it can open you up to potential theft at your home while you are away. 

S*** Happens!

I often joke that we have a history of taking the “near disaster tours”. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans just a couple of weeks after we were there. We booked a trip to Mumbai for March 2009, and then the terrorist attacks happened in November prior. On a road trip through Wyoming, there were forest fires. Days after we drove up to the Pacific Coast Highway, a mudslide closed the roads. During a road trip through Cabot Trail Nova Scotia in winter, we got hit by a really bad blizzard that nearly stranded us. These are just a few disasters that could have ruined some of our trips. The list of near-disasters continues…..

While nothing terrible has ever happened to us in our many travels, we have had some negative experiences and close calls. We have had flat tires in the middle of nowhere. We left our cell phones in restaurants. Our car broke down on a road trip, and we had to get a fix. We nearly missed our cruise embarkation at a port of call. We came very close to running out of gas while driving on a long rural road. I have almost been the victim of a real tourism robbery scam. So many things could happen, and it is best to be as prepared as possible in case something terrible occurs to you.

This list is just a suggestion to be prepared when travelling. The last thing I would want is for anyone to not travel because they are worried about safety. You can never predict when a bad situation will arise, so it is best to be prepared and aware.

We hope these tips for staying safe while travelling will help keep you safe on your next vacation.

Have a happy and SAFE vacation.

 

For more travel tips, visit the Travel Resources section of this website.

Author

Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for that informative article. Some of those things I wouldn’t even have thought of and I’ll be sure to take photos of my passport, etc., next time.

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