6 Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

When you’re getting ready to travel abroad, your loved ones will likely tell you, “Have fun, but be careful!” It’s tempting to roll your eyes when people, especially your parents, talk about safety. But when you travel, it’s important to stay aware and make informed choices. Here are six easy tips to stay safe and avoid getting into trouble when traveling.

Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

1. Familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and political situations

Is it an election year? Is tension rising about a local issue? Will the Running of the Bulls go by your apartment? Stay aware of your surroundings. Use Twitter to stay up to date with current issues.

2. While traveling, make sure you have a photocopy of your passport, visa, and credit/debit cards

It’s a good idea to take a picture of these documents with your phone or scan it to your email. Also, carry a paper copy with you and keep it in a secure location, such as a locked safe. Make sure that someone at home has a copy of your information in case they become concerned about your safety or they need to cancel a bank card for you.

3. Always keep your passport in the same place in your carry-on bag

Find a small pocket that you can reach (and monitor) so you don’t misplace it or have to rifle through every pocket of your bag. Don’t let anyone watch your bag while you run to the bathroom. Pack light and be smart. A friend of mine learned this lesson the hard way. On her first day of studying abroad, someone stole her passport and wallet from her lunch table – leaving her in a pinch.

4. Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime

Do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers. If you’re going out at night, keep your wits about you. Drugs and alcohol impair your judgment and can get you into trouble. Stay aware of your surroundings and make sound choices.

5. Make a getaway plan

You can’t always be prepared for a fire, violent situation or natural disaster, but if you have considered your exit strategy in advance, you’ll be able to make a decision in difficult circumstances. Log important phone numbers and keep your phone fully charged. When many people are trying to make mobile calls at once, you may have better luck sending a text, which uses less bandwidth.

6. Stay Connected

Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for free updates about your travel region (including travel and safety warnings) from the U.S. Department of State. Look up the address and emergency contact number of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and add them to your contacts. You can find the contact information for all U.S. Embassies and Consulates on the U.S. Department of State website. Use social media to keep up to date on local and regional issues.
So, go have the grand adventure you’ve always wanted, but make sure that you keep your wits about you. You’ll meet great people and create so many memories that you’ll cherish forever. Have fun and stay smart! You’re bound to have a great time