Making foolproof travel plans in today’s unpredictable environment is impossible but while we can’t eliminate danger 100%, there are basic things we can do to minimise some potential threats.
Below is a short list of safety tips that may come in handy:
1. Be thorough in your trip research and planning
It's no longer enough to check the guide books, blogs and travel forums, or a great travel feature in your Sunday newspaper to select a holiday spot. Now, you must also stay abreast of the news. Routinely check the fact-based and unbiased media sources – print, television and digital – so you can remain aware of potential areas of political, social and civil unrest.
2. Keep a low profile
Nothing screams ‘tourist’ more than gaudy jewelry and clothing that stands out from the local garb. And loud, obnoxious behavior that draws attention to yourself or your group has a similar effect too. Respect local customs and dress codes, be courteous, and speak in low tones that allow you to blend in rather than stand out.
3. Avoid areas with large crowds
Popular festivals, shopping malls, outdoor concerts and busy restaurants usually make the must-see lists but nowadays it's best to avoid the areas sure to attract large crowds. Check with your hotel concierge or a local insider for recommendations on the road less travelled. For example, dine at the ‘Mom and Pop’ eating establishments and avoid international chain restaurants with a distinctive Western brand. The one-off eateries are likely to be safer and your experience is guaranteed to be more unique as well.
4. Be super observant
Note the location of the city’s emergency services such as the police and fire department and get their numbers, then keep them close. Also, when you check into your hotel, look around the lobby to see all the entrances and exits which, in an emergency, could be your best escape routes. Do the same thing when you step out of the elevator to go to your room and study any maps provided on the back of your door. You may have to evacuate the property in the wee hours of the morning, when panic is at an all-time high, so having a good sense of where to go ahead of time will help.
5. Always gauge risk levels
Sometimes simple precautions can make all the difference in the world, so be sure to evaluate all levels of risk. For example, try not to accept rooms with a balcony on the first floor because they give too much access. Also, never assume a knock on your door means it is housekeeping or room service. Call the front desk to check before you open up. Additionally, lock your doors behind you, select local transportation wisely and avoid keeping your cash and credit cards all in the same place. Don't keep all your money on you; at least one money source should be stashed. Use the safety deposit boxes provided; most are reliable and free.
6.Share your travel plans with a trusted confidante
Whether you are travelling with someone or going solo, it’s always a good idea to make it easy for family and friends back home to get a hold of you in an emergency. So I recommend leaving your itinerary and contact information with one person you trust. It helps if that family member or friend has a clear idea of where you are supposed to be and when, and as much as possible, you should try to touch base with him or her regularly. With phone apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and Facetime, it’s now easier and more cost effective than ever before.
7. Keep copies of your passport in a safe place
Always, always have a copy of your passport stores somewhere safe! You can scan it and e-mail it to yourself or take a photo and save the image on your smartphone. Plus, you should have a copy at home. That way, if an unforeseen event happens, like a natural or a man-made disaster, you’ll have access to all your details. That copy will speed up the replacement process.
8. Register with your embassy or consulate
Embassies and consulates provide assistance for their citizens in emergencies so remember to register with them before you leave home and ensure you have their address and telephone number on you at all times. For instance, U.S. citizens and nationals planning to travel abroad can enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service designed to enable them to share trip details that would facilitate making easy contact in times of trouble. It also provides travelers with important updates on safety conditions in your destination country.
British citizens can subscribe to their Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) for travel advice alerts and follow FCOTravel on Facebook and Twitter for real time updates. Other countries have their own emergency assistance systems in place so familiarize yourself with them before you go.
Travel tip shared by My Travel Stamps