The world can be a scary place sometimes, especially if you’re not prepared for it.
Staying safe while traveling is extremely important because there are many ways that your trip could get ruined if you don’t take the right precautions. The last thing you want to happen on your trip is that you get pickpocketed, scammed, mugged, or worse…
Of course, it goes without saying that a big part of staying safe and taking the right precautions is getting Travel Insurance. You should never be traveling to another country without it! Make sure to read my Guide to Travel Insurance to learn more about it if you haven’t already.
And even if you’re only traveling to countries like Iceland, which is commonly known as being the safest country in the world, you should still take precautions because you never know when something unexpected or unwanted might happen.
So on this page, I will tell you everything you need to know about staying safe while traveling no matter which part of the world you plan to visit. A lot of these tips could be considered to be common sense and generally apply while traveling anywhere in the world, including countries that most would consider to be “safe”.
Note: if you are traveling to a risky country or looking for travel safety tips specifically for female travelers, be sure to check out these pages as well:
So without further ado, here are the top 30 travel safety tips:
1. Research your destination ahead of time
This is probably the most important thing you can do to stay safe while traveling since a lot of potential mishaps can be avoided by simply taking a moment to do a bit of research about the place you’re visiting.
Find out important things like:
- Which areas to avoid
- Which scams and tourist traps are most common in that destination
- What the emergency numbers are (you can find them in the Destination Guides)
Another way to learn about these things is to ask a local when you arrive in your destination. Talk to the people that work at the hotel/hostel front desk and see what they have to say about it.
In addition, check out what your local government has to say about that country and see if there are any travel advisories currently in place. Here are links to the official government travel advisory websites for the US, Canada, the UK, & Australia.
Note: if it seems like it might be a risky country, make sure to read the Advanced Travel Safety guide as well to be fully prepared.
2. Try to blend in
People with bad intentions like to target tourists since they are typically easier to take advantage of so the more you can blend in and seem like a local, the more you can avoid running into any bad situations.
Of course this will not always be possible, especially when you visit a country whose people look completely different or if you’re visiting all the main tourist attractions that locals rarely go to, but regardless, you should still make as much of an effort as you can to not stand out too much, especially in riskier destinations.
Try to avoid wearing clothing that screams “I’m a tourist” as well as any expensive jewellery or expensive electronics like large DSLR cameras around your neck as they can also attract people with bad intentions. In essence, do your best to dress up as the locals do to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself.
And if you’re a female traveler, read up on what local women tend to wear as there may be particular customs or laws in place that dictate what you’re allowed to wear.
Find more travel safety tips for female travelers in the Female Traveler Safety Guide.
3. Try to avoid traveling at night
This is something that sounds like basic common sense, but it’s important to emphasize it here. Nighttime is when most shady characters like to come out so if you can, try to avoid traveling during this time. However, if you can’t avoid it, just make sure to take caution.
The problem is that many budget airlines like to fly at this time so it can be hard to avoid if you’re also trying to save money. This means you need to consider whether that extra money saved is worth the risk of landing in an unknown destination in the middle of the night. The same goes for other forms of transportation that depart or arrive late as well.
4. Always be aware of your surroundings
This not only goes for when you’re traveling at night, but also during the day. Tourists that are distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings are some of the easiest for scammers and pickpockets to take advantage of.
Don’t stare at your phone or a map all the time and always take note of what’s happening around you. If a pickpocket notices that you’re being well-aware of your surroundings, then they are much less likely to try to take advantage of you.
5. Always keep an eye on your belongings
Similarly, you should also be well-aware of your belongings at all times as well. It only takes a second for a thief to snatch your bags or other valuables when you’re not looking.
Always keep your bags and other belongings next to you where you can see them. In addition, you should always try to hold onto them and keep your hand over any openings.
Something else to avoid doing is leaving your phone, purse, or any other valuable on the table at restaurants. A lot of people these days tend to do this, but it can be a very risky habit when traveling as many thieves will take advantage of it by either using tricks to steal your phone without you noticing or simply grab it and run away before you have a chance to catch them.
Another thing that might happen in some countries is opportunistic phone theft when you’re holding your phone in your hand. If you’re sitting on public transit, a thief might grab your phone from your hand and exit just before the doors close. And similarly, if you’re standing on the street or sitting in a tuk-tuk, a thief on a scooter might drive by and do the same.
Avoid this by always keeping a good grip on your phone when using it and by keeping all other valuables on your body or in a bag on your lap.
And when you’re on the move, always keep your valuables in the bag closest to you. Never put anything of value in a suitcase that you plan to leave in the undercarriage of a bus or as check-in luggage on a plane.
6. Keep one of your bag’s straps around your arm or leg
While leaving your phone on the table at restaurants is a bad habit to have while traveling, keeping one of your bag’s straps around your arm or leg when you have it with you is a very good one. All you have to do is remember to always keep one of your bag’s straps around your arm or leg, no matter what you’re doing.
This applies to when you’re sitting at restaurants, in tuk-tuks, at airports and bus/train stations, and any other time your bag is out in the open. You should even be doing this when you’re standing at hotel check-in desks or when waiting in line/standing around in any other public place as you never know when a thief may just take advantage of your bag that’s just sitting there unattended.
It’s a simple little habit that can go a long way in deterring and preventing would-be thieves no matter where you are and what you’re doing since it physically stops them from being able to take your bag from you. And if you also make sure the bag is on your lap or you are simply holding on to it, then you will be even safer.
Pro tip: one way to keep your bags safe when your they are separated from you is by using a cable lock to secure it to the luggage rack it’s on so that any would-be thieves wouldn’t be able to simply grab it and go without you realizing. This is especially useful on trains and in luggage rooms at hotels/hostels.
7. Avoid carrying too much cash
In some countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, you won’t even need to carry much cash at all since debit/credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but in other countries, it’s the exact opposite.
And while it may be tempting to take out large amounts of cash in an effort to avoid wasting too much money on ATM fees, having too much cash on you can make you a target and the more cash you have on you, the more you would lose if something happens to it.
Therefore, try to avoid taking out and carrying too much cash in general. And check out my Guide to Getting Cash While Traveling to find out how to avoid ATM fees + other useful cash-related tips.
8. But do keep some backup cash + backup debit & credit cards
That being said, you should still have some backup cash as well as backup debit & credit cards in case something happens to the cash and/or cards you have with you.
This way, you will still be able to get around, make payments, and take out more cash in case of emergencies. It’s best to have that extra cash in the local currency, but having extra US Dollars can also be useful as it’s the most widely accepted currency in the world.
Your debit and credit cards should also ideally be well-suited for travel with no foreign transaction fees, no foreign exchange fees, and have other useful benefits. Find out which ones you should get in my guides to the Best Travel Debit Cards & Best Travel Credit Cards.
And if you’re traveling as a couple and you have a joint bank account, then take a card each with you on the trip (and keep the second one safe). That way, if something happens to one of them, you will still be able to access your money with the other one.
In addition, you should also consider storing some money in a different format such as PayPal. Open up a free PayPal account if you don’t have one already and add a couple hundred dollars to it just in case.
9. Keep all your backup valuables hidden in different locations
The point of having backup cash & debit + credit cards is so that they are available to use in case something happens to your main cash and cards so the worst thing you can do is keep everything in the same place because if something happens to them, you lose them all.
Make sure your backup valuables are spread out between your pockets, wallet, money belt, backpack, and suitcase. And even within your backpack and suitcase, keep everything in different hard-to-reach pockets so it’s not all in one spot.
10. Bring only what you need when you go out
The more you have with you, the more you have to lose. When going out for the day, don’t bring things you don’t need with you.
Leave your passport, other important documents, backup cash, debit, and credit cards, and other valuables in your hotel/hostel room, either hidden somewhere in your luggage or ideally, locked in the safe or locker provided by the hotel/hostel.
If you’re in a country that expects you to have your passport on you at all times, just keep a paper copy of it (including a paper copy of your tourist visa if you have one) on you instead. This way you have something to show to a police officer if you get questioned for whatever reason. It also serves as a form of ID in case something happens to you.
11. Use the safes/lockers in your hotel/hostel
As mentioned earlier, you should be using the safes and lockers that are provided to you by your hotel/hostel. Not only does it protect you from potential theft by thieves that make it into your room (or that might also be staying in the same room as you in the case of hostels), but also from potential opportunistic theft by the cleaning staff that come in to clean your room every day.
While room theft is not a common occurrence, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a possibility and taking that extra moment to lock up your stuff when you’re not in the room prevents any chance of it occurring to you. Try to stay in hotels and hostels that have safes and/or lockers. In some hotels and hostels, you can also leave your valuables at the front desk for even more added security.
If you’re staying in a hostel, be aware that locks may not always be included so it’s a good idea to pack a small lock with you on your travels. Most hostels will also sell you locks if you forget yours, but usually at a higher price. If there aren’t any lockers in the rooms, your valuables can also sometimes be kept in a safe at reception.
12. Carry valuables on your body & invest in travel safety accessories
When you are out and about, your most important items should be kept on you at all times. Keeping them in your pockets is an obvious way of keeping them close to your body, but there are also other ways you can do it.
One way is by wearing a money belt. There are two types of money belts that exist, one that serves as an actual belt, but can only store folded cash, and one that you wear under your clothes which can also store cards, passports, and other small valuables. They are both useful and if you want maximum security, consider getting both!
If you don’t like those options, you could also get an infinity scarf with hidden pockets which is another way to hide your valuables close to you that people won’t think about. It also doubles as a stylish accessory in colder weather!
Note: if you do choose to buy and wear either of these accessories, it’s very important that whenever you want to take something out from them, you do it in a private location such as a washroom. This way, you don’t give away where you’re keeping your valuables to potential pickpockets that may be watching you if you do it in public.
And if you have larger valuables that you want to take with you such as DSLR cameras, tablets, or whatever it may be, you should carry them in an anti-theft backpack that keeps its zippers hidden against your body, making it almost impossible for thieves to pickpocket. You can also wear it in front of you for added security if you want.
Read about more useful travel accessories in my Guide to the Top Travel Accessories.
13. Never put anything valuable in your back pockets
While it may seem natural and/or normal for you to keep your phone, wallet, cash, or other valuables in your back pockets at home, it’s not a good idea when you’re abroad.
Back pockets are one of the easiest spots for pickpockets to swipe from since you can’t see them do it and there’s also less of a chance that you’d feel it when they do. If you plan to keep anything in your pockets, avoid the back and stick to the front.
Even better, invest in some of the travel safety accessories mentioned above.
14. Keep your debit & credit cards blocked when not using them
I’ve personally been a victim of debit card fraud twice in my travels. The first time was in Germany when I accidentally left my debit card in the ticket machine at the airport’s metro station and it was later used by someone to make several online purchases.
The second time was in Malaysia when my card was copied after (probably) being skimmed at an ATM or payment terminal, after which the copy was used by someone to take out cash from my account by using a different ATM a day later.
Luckily, the bank returned my money both times after reporting the unauthorized transactions and going through the appropriate procedures, but this could have all been avoided had I kept the cards blocked when I wasn’t using them.
Many banks and credit card companies these days offer instant blocking and unblocking of your cards via their banking apps which is extremely useful for preventing fraud. Not every bank or credit card company will offer this feature, but some do and if you can get your hands on one, then you will be much better equipped to avoid fraud.
Find out which ones offer it in my guides to the Best Travel Debit Cards & Best Travel Credit Cards. In addition, you will also need to have a constant connection to the internet so that you can block and unblock your cards at any time. To achieve this, you should have a Travel-Ready Phone and Prepaid SIM Card.
Once you have a constant internet connection and a card that allows instant blocking and unblocking, you should get into the habit of keeping it blocked at all times and only unblock it when you’re about to make a payment or take out cash, remembering to block it again right afterwards.
Do this and even if someone steals or copies your card, they won’t be able to use it when they try to!
15. Avoid getting your cards skimmed, copied, or stolen when using them
While keeping your cards blocked when you’re not using them is a great way of preventing debit & credit card fraud, an even better way is actually to avoid having your cards skimmed, copied, or stolen in the first place!
If you’re not already aware, skimming is when a thief saves your card information by placing a recording device over the card slot of an ATM or other payment terminal and sometimes, a small camera nearby to record your PIN as well. These skimmers are designed to look exactly like the original card slots so you don’t suspect a thing when you use it.
They then either use your card information to make online purchases, or in more advanced cases, copy it onto a blank card that they can then use to take out cash from your bank account at another ATM with the PIN they got from their camera. They may also be standing nearby in an effort to look at your PIN over your shoulder.
Therefore, another good habit to get into to prevent fraud is to always check every ATM and payment terminal that you’re about to put your card into to see if there’s a skimmer attached to it before you put your card in. You can do this by playing around with the card slot and giving it a nice tug. If it feels loose or comes off completely, step away and go to another ATM.
In addition, you should also be checking for any cameras that might be pointing towards the keypad and also feeling the keypad itself to make sure there isn’t a fake one over it and/or that there aren’t any sensors on it that may track the buttons you press. And even if it seems safe, always cover your hand when entering your PIN because you never know if you missed something or someone is watching you.
Something similar to watch out for is card trappers which is when a scammer places a plastic film inside the card slot that traps your card in it. The ATM won’t be able to read your card and the film also prevents the ATM from being able to return it to you. The scammer may try to “help” you and in the process, watch you enter your PIN. Once you leave the area, they pull out the film with your card in it and take off.
To avoid this scam, don’t panic if your card seems like it has been eaten by the ATM. Instead, feel the card slot to see if there is anything sticking out of it (it might be glued on so use your nail to feel for any rough edges as well). If you can’t seem to find something and someone comes along trying to be “helpful”, ask them to go into the bank and get the staff to come out. Do not enter your PIN in front of them.
Also, never let your cards leave your sight such as when paying at a restaurant as it can take as little as one second for someone to snap a photo of your card, letting them use it to sell your information or make fraudulent online purchases themselves later.
16. Keep an eye on your card transactions & set limits
Those are all great ways to prevent debit & credit card fraud, but there will be times when you forget to check for a skimmer/trapper or you forget to block your card when you weren’t using it. Or maybe your card doesn’t even have an instant blocking option.
Therefore while unlikely, there is still a chance that you can become a victim of fraud.
However, you can still avoid losing too much money if it ever happens to you as long as you periodically keep an eye on your debit & credit card balances and payments. The standard way of doing this is to simply check your account regularly to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized transactions on it.
But an even better way of doing this is by enabling notifications on your mobile banking app for whenever your card is used for any transactions, whether it’s a payment or cash withdrawal.
Not every bank or credit card company will offer this feature, but some do and if you can get your hands on a card from one that does, then you will be much better equipped to put a stop to fraud before you lose too much money since getting an instant notification about every transaction lets you recognize if the card is being actively used for any fraudulent ones.
Find out which ones offer this feature in my guides to the Best Travel Debit Cards & Best Travel Credit Cards. In addition, you will also need to have a constant connection to the internet so that you can get those notifications instantly. To achieve this, you should have a Travel-Ready Phone and Prepaid SIM Card.
It’s also a good idea to set transactional and withdrawal limits on your cards so that if in the off-chance you do not notice that it was used to make any unauthorized transactions, you can still prevent losing too much money by having the card automatically stop would-be thieves from taking out more than what its limits allow.
17. Know what to do in case of loss, theft, or fraud
Sometimes, even when you’ve done everything you could to prevent being a victim, it will still happen to you. If you’ve followed all of the previous tips, it’s unlikely, but it’s still possible, so you have to be prepared in the event of loss, theft, or fraud of your valuables or belongings.
No matter how it happens; whether it occurs as a result of being in the wrong part of town at the wrong time, someone pickpocketed you, or you simply misplaced or lost your stuff, one of the first things you should do is report it to the police, especially if it was taken from you violently. And even if it just disappeared, if you want any chance of seeing it again, filing a police report is the best thing you can do.
Also, if it was your debit and/or credit card that was lost, stolen, or used fraudulently, then there are a few more steps you need to take, starting with blocking it immediately so it cannot be used to make any unauthorized purchases.
Find out what the other steps are and get some other important money management tips in my Guide to Managing Money While Traveling.
18. Password-protect and track your phone
Whether your phone is expensive or not, it’s still important that you password-protect it if you haven’t already because it has private data on it that you don’t want potential thieves to see.
In addition, you should ensure that its tracking settings are enabled so that you are able to locate it in case you lose it. For Android phones, it’s called Find My Device and for iPhones, it’s called Find My iPhone.
It’s also a good idea to have some sort of backup or cloud storage set up so that if you do lose your phone for good, you can still recover your data and files that were saved on it. You can always get a new phone, but you can’t replace the photos and videos on it!
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then you can benefit from unlimited free cloud storage for all your photos and up to 5GB of free cloud storage for everything else by using Amazon Drive.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime, then another option is Google Drive which is included with every free Google account and gives you 15GB of free cloud storage. If you need more than that, you’ll have to pay for it. 100GB on Amazon Drive costs $19.99 USD per year whereas 100GB on Google Drive costs $1.99 USD per month ($23.88 USD per year).
19. Get a prepaid SIM card so you’re always connected to the internet
While we’re on the topic of phones, you should also try to get a prepaid SIM card for every destination that you plan to visit so that you’re always connected to the internet.
This is not only useful for sharing photos and posting on social media, but it can also keep you safe by letting you use Google Maps to find out where you are at all times as well as let you make phone calls which is useful in case of emergencies. Find out what other apps are useful for travelers in my Guide to the Top Travel Apps.
You need to make sure your phone is set up to recognize prepaid SIM cards in other countries and that you know what prepaid SIM card options exist for you. Learn more about this in my Guide to Travel-Ready Phones & Guide to Prepaid SIM Cards.
20. Try to avoid using public WiFi networks without a VPN
To round out the technology tips, you should also try to avoid using public WiFi networks without a VPN, especially if you are using it to log in to personal accounts that have sensitive information such as online banking.
Hackers are able to set up fake public WiFi networks that look like real ones and record your login details as well as gather other sensitive data from you when you connect to them. They can also do this while using real public WiFi networks that aren’t well-secured.
While it’s not a common occurrence, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen and if it does happen to you, it can lead to some pretty bad consequences. Using data with a Prepaid SIM Card to connect to the internet instead of using public WiFi networks is one way to avoid being a victim of this, but using a VPN is another.
What a VPN does is hide your digital identity, making it more difficult for would-be hackers to access your data and allowing you to use public WiFi networks safely. NordVPN is a great option for those looking for added security when traveling and connecting to unknown public WiFi networks.
21. Try to make friends with locals
One of the best ways to avoid getting in trouble while in a foreign destination is actually by making friends with a local. Most people who try to take advantage of tourists and foreigners won’t do that if they see you with someone from that city/country.
This is because locals know how things work in their city/country and what to look out for. In addition, they can stop would-be thieves or other bad actors in their tracks by recognizing what they’re up to and/or understanding what they’re saying.
You also get the added benefit of having a great source for information about your destination and in some cases, a personal guide to the city who can show you all the best spots that you’ll never find in a guidebook.
Some of the best ways to meet locals is by hitchhiking, ridesharing, airbnb, and/or couchsurfing. Each one of those methods of transportation and accommodation provide many opportunities to meet and get to know awesome locals!
22. But be wary of overly friendly locals
That being said, you also need to be wary of locals that seem a bit too friendly.
While some countries have locals that are genuinely interested in you and are just naturally friendly people, there are unfortunately people out there that like to take advantage of western tourists who are accustomed to avoid conflict and rudeness towards strangers.
As a result, they will try to convince you to go to places you don’t want to go, buy things you don’t need, and do things you don’t want to do.
You should always be skeptical about a local’s intentions, especially if they approach you randomly, and never share too much information about yourself, what you’re doing, where you’re staying, or where you’re going, as they can often use that information in malicious ways.
If you need to tell a lie or two to get out of an uncomfortable situation, don’t be afraid to do that since it’s a good way to avoid getting taken advantage of. There is a very small chance you will see that person again anyways so you don’t need to feel guilty about doing it either.
23. Try to stay with a group
This is more important when traveling solo, but it’s still something to remember even when traveling with others since there may be times that you will split up and/or lose each other. You have safety in numbers and being around other people is a great way to prevent any bad situations when you’re in a foreign destination.
If you are traveling solo, try to join group activities or meet other travelers that you can form groups with and/or do activities with. Not only will it increase your safety, but it will also give you an opportunity to make some cool friends from around the world!
One way to travel with a group and meet other travelers is by doing a group tour. These are fully organized trips that let you experience a destination in the comfort of a group while also giving you a chance to meet other awesome travelers. Check out my Guide to Group Tours to learn more.
However, if you prefer planning everything on your own, then some other great ways of meeting other travelers include staying in hostels, using ridesharing to travel, doing free walking tours, joining pub crawls, and participating in other group activities.
24. But be wary of sob stories from other travelers asking for money
Scammers and thieves aren’t limited to locals that try to take advantage of foreign tourists. They also come in the form of other travelers just like you who will also take advantage of your willingness to be nice and helpful.
A common scam that some of these people try to pull on other travelers is to tell you a sob story about how they had their wallet stolen and that they need money to be able to buy a flight ticket home or that they also had their passport stolen and to get a new one, they need to pay the embassy a certain fee.
When you ask why they don’t just get cash sent to them by friends & family via Western Union or Moneygram, their excuse will be that those services won’t give them the money without an ID, which they also lost. They might even have accomplices who act as friends or family who video chat with you in an effort to convince you that it’s true.
You should always be skeptical if you hear a story like this or if another traveler approaches you asking for money for any reason because there’s a very good chance that it’s a scam, regardless of how real their sob story seems.
However, if their story really seems believable to you or you really trust that person, one way to help them out while avoiding getting scammed is by telling them to have a friend or family member of theirs from back home send you the money first via Western Union or Moneygram, after which you can hand them that money. This way it’s not your money that gets lost if it all ends up being a scam.
Paypal is another option, but you need to make sure that you claim the money and send it to your bank account before giving that person any of yours because otherwise, the original sender could cancel or dispute the transfer before you do and you’d still be out of money.
If the person doesn’t like these ideas or tries to come up with some other excuse for why they won’t work, then there’s a very good chance it’s a scam. A person who is really in a situation like this would be very grateful for whatever sort of help they can receive, even if it takes extra steps.
25. Avoid getting too drunk
One of the easiest ways to get taken advantage of, both by locals and other travelers alike, is by getting too drunk and not being aware of your actions and your surroundings, especially if you’re on your own. Being drunk makes you a bigger target for all types of bad actors and could get you into unwanted situations and dangerous neighbourhoods.
Of course, I’m not saying to avoid drinking altogether, but just be more cautious about it when you’re in a foreign destination. If you do plan to drink, try to do it around people you trust and who can take care of you in case you do go over the edge, especially if you are traveling solo. Try to always stick with a group when you go out drinking.
26. Carry both paper and digital copies of all your important documents
One way to avoid a lot of different problems regarding your important documents is to carry both paper and digital copies of all of them. This way, even if you somehow lose your passport and/or another piece of ID/important document, you still have ways of proving your identity.
It also makes it much easier to keep the original documents safe since in many cases, you can simply use your paper or digital copies when you need to show those documents to someone for whatever reason. Of course, if it’s an immigration official / police officer or airline / hotel staff, you should be showing them the originals, but for everyone else, the copies should be fine.
There’s also the added benefit of being able to look up your own information quickly and easily without needing to dig through your stuff to find the original documents.
Here’s a list of some of the documents you should make copies of:
- Vaccination Records
- Travel Insurance Confirmation & Policy Details
- Driver’s Licenses
- International Driver’s Permits
- Flight Tickets
- Train/Bus/Ferry Tickets
- Car Rental Reservations
- Accommodation Confirmations
- Tour Bookings
- And any other reservations you made for your trip
For email confirmations, create a folder in your email account and move them in there so you can find them easily (you don’t need paper copies of those).
For the rest, I recommend doing three things:
- The first is to open a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one. It’s free to open and if you use my link to open your account, you’ll get an extra 500MB of storage space! Dropbox is a cloud storage platform similar to Google Drive & Amazon Drive that stores your files in their server and lets you access them from any device or computer wherever you are in the world.
- Next, scan or take photos of all those non-email documents and upload them to a new folder in your Dropbox account. Download the official app to your phone too so that you can access your documents on the go.
- Finally, print paper copies of those documents to keep with you as you travel as you may not always have access to the internet and it’s always helpful to have hard copies of them.
27. Know how to stay safe while taking a taxi
Taking a taxi can be one of the riskiest things you can do while traveling, depending on the country you’re in. There are many taxi drivers around the world that take advantage of tourists in many ways such as simply overcharging them for rides, pulling a variety of different scams on them, or even worse.
There are also many fake taxis and taxi drivers in some parts of the world that will either try to kidnap or rob you if you get into their cars. Care has to be taken when taking taxis and the best thing you could do if you want to stay safe while traveling is actually to try to avoid them altogether if you can.
That being said, these are rare instances and most of the time, you should be fine taking them (in non-risky countries), but if Uber or a similar ride-hailing app exists in the country you’re visiting, then it is highly recommended you use that instead.
However, if you have no other option but to take a taxi, then be sure you’re prepared for it by reading my Guide to Taxis.
28. Wear a helmet and a seatbelt
This is another one of those that seems like common sense since it is illegal not to wear helmets or seatbelts in many Western nations, but it’s important to mention it here because in many developing countries, it’s either not a law or it’s simply just not enforced and many locals choose not to wear them as a result.
However, just because the locals choose not to wear them doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t either. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle, scooter, or moped and wearing a seatbelt as a passenger or when driving a car can be the difference between life and death.
Motorbike accidents are the leading cause of death for tourists in Southeast Asia and car accidents the leading cause of death for tourists everywhere else. By wearing a helmet and a seatbelt, you are reducing the chance that a potential accident becomes fatal.
Long story short: always wear a helmet and a seatbelt, no matter what.
29. Figure out how you will take care of your home while you’re away
A lot of people forget about this step or don’t know how they should be preparing for it. Protecting your home while you’re away is just as important as protecting yourself so you need to make sure you take all the right precautions so that your belongings stay safe.
Activating an alarm system when you’re about to leave is an important thing to do, but there are a few others as well:
- You don’t want potential burglars knowing that you’re away since it makes your home a more likely target for them and one way they can tell that you’re gone is by seeing a full mailbox. Therefore, you should either contact the postal service to request that they stop mail delivery to your house for the period of time that you will be away or ask a neighbour/friend to drop by and pick up your mail for you every day.
- Another sign that nobody is home is the fact that the lights are off 24/7. If you want an extra deterrent against potential burglars, install some light timers that turn your lights on and off at preset times throughout the day. This will make it seem like somebody is in the house, dissuading would-be thieves.
- If you have any pets, be sure to hire a pet sitter, have a friend or family member take care of them, or drop them off at a pet daycare for the amount of time that you’ll be gone. And if you need plants watered, either get yourself automatic plant waterers or give a key to a neighbour/friend and have them water your plants for you.
- When you’re about to leave the house, be sure to check that the stove and any other flammable or non-essential electronic device in your home is turned off and/or unplugged, lock all your doors and windows, and activate the alarm system before you head to the airport!
30. Trust your instincts
Finally, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you with regards to staying safe while traveling is to simply trust your instincts.
Being open-minded is a great way to have some amazing experiences, especially while traveling, but if something or someone feels wrong, step away. Don’t feel pressured into doing anything that you don’t feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to say no.
If you’re getting a bad feeling about something, don’t ignore it. Try to figure out what’s causing it, but if your gut feeling is just telling you to just get out as soon as possible, then trust it because that instinct is there for a reason!
And those are all the most important tips!
I really want to emphasize that this guide is not meant to scare you into not traveling at all, but rather just inform you about all the possible ways that you could run into issues while abroad. Most of the time, you won’t have anything to worry about, especially in developed countries, but it always helps to be prepared in case something does happen to you.
The tips on this page are general safety tips for all travelers regardless of who you are and where you’re traveling to, but if you are traveling to a country that is considered to be risky, then you should also read my Advanced Travel Safety guide because there are some other precautions you need to take as well as other things you need to be aware of.
In addition, if you are a female traveler, there are even more important things to be aware of that apply to you specifically which you can read about in the Female Traveler Safety Guide.
Let me know in the comments below if these tips helped you out! And if you want to learn about how to make sure you’re prepared for your trip financially, check out my Guide to Managing Money While Traveling!