Note: We actually wrote these travel safety tips for couples before we heard about the tragic killing of the solo female traveller Sarai Sierra in Turkey. Our travel safety tips can also be used by solo female travellers and males.
This post is a follow up to our previous article: Travel Safety Tips for Couples, Before you Travel.
We felt obliged to write about travel safety because we get asked a lot of questions regarding travel safety. We travelled to Egypt over a year ago and still get asked “is Egypt safe to travel to?”
Of course travel in Egypt is safe!
We basically consider that everywhere in the world is safe to travel to, as long as you are sensible and take precautions. It is like I said in our previous post, you don’t want to listen to everything others say, especially the media.
The world is NOT dangerous or unsafe. Sure there are dangerous people and destinations, but they are a really small percentage of the world.
And most of the unfortunate bad experiences that happen to travellers arise from them being stupid, drunk or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. By using a few simple travel safety tips, you can cut down your risks.
Travel Safety Tips for Couples
After 3 years of travel we haven’t had anything stolen and have NEVER felt unsafe because we follow our basic travel safety tips for couples, and solo travellers.
Travel Safety Tips: Blend in
One of the keys to travel safety is to limit drawing attention to yourself.
The closer you resemble a tourist, or more specifically the less you resemble other tourists, the better it is for you. Wearing sandals with white socks or sneakers with a large camera dangling from your neck is kind of a giveaway.
Similarly if you are waving around a map you may be targeted.
Travel Safety Tips: Dressing appropriately
Once you have stopped acting like a tourist you want to dress appropriately.
By leaving your valuables at home you should be carrying less stuff as you explore the streets. Everything you carry should be able to fit into your pockets or be within your bubble of “personal space”. Any time someone gets within that bubble you know to keep an eye on things.
There are always situations where this is unavoidable such as tightly packed public transport or local markets. To reduce your risk and avoid being pick-pocketed you want to keep your wallet in your front pocket, preferably buttoned up. Or use the inside pocket of your zipped up jacket.
You might also want to consider buying a “money belt” (examples here) that wrap around your waist underneath your shirt.
Finally, if you are a travelling couple ensure that you both carry your money and that it is not all in the same place. By spreading it out you won’t lose it all if one is stolen or lost.
Travel Safety Tips: Gather your gear
On arrival, or departure you are most likely to lose something.
At the airport you are tired from travelling and rush through customs eager to go exploring. Simply stuffing your wallet or passport at the top of your bag or in your back pocket is not good enough.
Use a money belt or secret compartment in your luggage to store valuable items.
It’s the same situation in a restaurant, accommodation or at an attraction. Take a moment to stop, gather yourself, and your belongings. As you walk away check behind you to see that you didn’t leave anything behind. I always do a quick “pat down” to check my camera, wallet, phone etc are in the right places.
If you know where everything should be then it becomes very easy to make this a simple routine ritual.
Travel Safety Tips: Don’t leave it unattended
We see this all the time. Someone sits down at a cafe and promptly ignores their bag or coat because they feel safe.
Always keep your items in your line of sight and within that personal bubble of space. It isn’t hard for someone to wander by and take something from your chair, or table, when you are distracted by delicious pastries and coffee.
Travel Safety Tips: Stay Alert
Before leaving your accommodation ask the staff if there is anywhere in the city they recommend not going. While you don’t necessarily want to stick to the boring tourist trails, you also don’t want to end up in seedy areas.
It is easy to unwittingly wander up the wrong street when you are gazing at all the sights. Just retrace your steps (guys are a little better at this than girls for some reason) and carry on your way.
The important thing is that you see what is going on around you. Take notice of what strangers are doing because it’s common practice for thieves to work together.
Kids with signs may try to distract you while the others pickpocket you. Or women will beg for money while pushing a crying infant in your face. While we feel bad doing it, we always just ignore them and keep walking. Once you stop, you become a sitting duck.
Our only rule is that if someone outright robs you then NEVER FIGHT BACK. Insurance will cover anything stolen and it is better than getting injured or worse.
Travel Safety Tips: Lock your luggage
While you should travel with minimal stuff, anything you leave in your accommodation should be locked away. Most hotels and hostels provide safes or lockers.
Our small padlocks probably wouldn’t stop a determined thief, but it will make them think twice and/or slow them down. Stealing your stuff is all about speed, so most won’t take that risk.
Travel Safety Tips: Walk away from confrontations
Everyone has been in a situation where someone upsets you or makes you angry. They might have accidentally bumped you or tried to chat up your girlfriend. Some ridiculous people might just be looking for a fight.
Unless you are Chuck Norris, walk away calmly. You never know who that person might be associated with. If they follow you then stick to public areas and find a local spot to ask for assistance.
And by no means are we telling you to avoid people. Meeting people is a main reason to travel!
Travel Safety Tips: Know your way out
Familiarising yourself with local landmarks as you wander around the streets of a foreign city can be very helpful for when you do take that eventual wrong turn.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have taken the time to learn a little bit of the local language then someone will be willing to help you out. Our favourite experiences have been after we have gotten lost then shown where to go by a friendly local.
Travel Safety Tips: Don’t try this on holiday
While we love to step outside our comfort zones, we don’t take unnecessary risks. Especially when something looks a little dodgy.
There are way to many stories of travellers getting injured, or killed, while taking part in something life threatening. Sure we have run with bulls, driven scooters in Italy and scuba-dived in Egypt. But we consider these calculated risks. And we had great travel insurance.
If you want to take part in adventure travel activities then always check that the operators have legal qualifications and a good safety record too. The cheapest option is usually that price for a reason.
Travel Safety Tips Summary
No we are not trying to scare you away from travelling. We just know from experience that people seem to go on holiday without their brains. By showing you examples of worst-case scenarios we hope that we can limit your risks.
Travelling is safe when you reduce your risks and take precautions.
The important thing to remember is that if you do suffer a loss or a problem, don’t let that ruin your trip!
Why Reward Points are Important For Frequent Travellers
There’s no question about it, you can save a bundle of money if you manage your reward points for travelling in the right way. But many people just go on living their lives without really taking full advantage of this.
But without a doubt, reward programs are worth it for anybody who flies with even any little semblance of frequency and regularity. As a matter of fact, you may be thinking that you don’t really fly enough to take advantage of these programs, and the fact of the matter is that you could be missing out.
Get The Right Credit Card:
The best way to rack up those points quickly (before you even realize how far you’ve gotten) is to get a card with a great rewards program. For example, here are some options for people in Canada to get on the reward points quickly. Your mileage may vary (sic!) from country to country, but in any case it’s a good idea to read up on your best options and select one that works for you.
From that point onward, it’s important to be disciplined in using that card every time you can in order to rack up those points. Read the terms and conditions carefully and use them to your advantage, instead of having them surprise you!
Stick To The Right Airline:
This one is very hard for many people, because it requires discipline and that famous and all-important delayed gratification.
The first step involved analyzing the airlines that go to your needed destinations and making sure you are selecting the best one. Obviously, the points that you get with your card need to be good for travel on that airline.
Then, you need to ALWAYS take that airline, even in cases when fares rise, knowing that in the long run, you will still save money. The more you pay, the more miles you are getting anyway. It’s easy to get seduced by a seat sale on some other airline, but if you wind up with unused points expiring because of it, it’s not such a good deal in the long term.
Make Sure You Get The Miles:
Try to make it so that when you travel for business, you buy your own fares (even if you later get reimbursed for them, that way the travel points will all be in your own name. This may take some back and forth, but it’s usually doable, and also can make a big difference in your pocketbook down the road.
Also, sometimes it may actually be worth it to save your miles and buy upfront, making them even more effective in the long run. All in all, it takes discipline and strategy to get the best deals.
The Importance of Travel Insurance
The majority of people who travel don’t have any travel insurance whatsoever, and this is not a great state of affairs for these people. How many of them get caught out in a foreign country with no coverage whatsoever facing expensive medical bills for necessary treatment, or even worse, have that treatment denied?
What if I Have a Pre-existing Condition?
A lot of people think that they are ineligible for travel insurance if they have a pre-existing condition. The fact is, if you have a pre-existing medical condition you might still be able to get travel insurance coverage. In any case, full disclosure is very important, because if you withhold any important information at the time of setting up the policy, you may wind up with a denied claim at the worst possible time.
It’s Not What You Think In Other Countries:
Obviously, we don’t care much about the quality or availability of long-term care abroad for these purposes; it’s almost never necessary. However, emergency coverage can be extremely important in certain situations.
It’s also a huge error to think that other countries, just because they have “socialized medicine” (a very very poorly defined term), are going to treat anybody and everybody completely for free no matter what. Most countries these days only extend free medical coverage to citizens of that same country, and foreigners, including tourists, are on the hook for expenses.
Some jurisdictions may actually even simply deny treatment. Most countries have laws requiring hospitals to at least stabilize a patient before letting them go (with a heavy debt) regardless of ability to pay, but not all do! Also, some hospitals worldwide will go the other way and not discharge patients until the bill has been paid in full. These situations are precisely why travel insurance is so important.
Other Legal Issues:
There is another very valid point that surprises many people because they are simply unaware of it: often if you are travelling to another country as anything other than a tourist, say as a student or to work, even for a short time, you may actually be in violation of immigration policy by not carrying proper insurance.
For this reason it’s very important to check beforehand, because an impromptu deportation on top of a medical condition is the last thing you want to have happen on your trip.
Hopefully at this point you will understand what a great investment travel insurance really is, and not be one of those people caught in bad circumstances because they didn’t get their insurance right before getting on that plane!
4 Fun Apps for Travelers
Going on holiday is fun and exciting but there are parts of the process that aren’t so much – waiting at the airport, the flight, the transfer. These are the time when you and the kids can get a bit bored, a bit impatient and tempers can flare. That’s when the smartphone comes to the rescue with a range of fun, free apps to keep you busy during the lull times. Here are four to try on your next vacation.
We all know and love Tetris, but it did get a bit old (actually, it is a bit old now) so 1010 is a good successor. It is based on the same principles called tetrominoes that the designer of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov used and rather than varying dropping blocks, you have a canvas. Make a line across it and the blocks vanish. Sounds simple but the more blocks you get, the more complicated it gets, and it actually takes planning to win.
If in doubt, go with a classic and Bejeweled Blitz has become one of the classics of the mobile gaming world. Okay, it doesn’t have the excitement or potential big wins of mobile casinos and apps or the thrills of a top racing game with amazing graphics but if you want a game to keep you occupied during the flight and maybe even leave you ready to sleep for a bit, this is the one. But be warned, it is more addicting that you could believe – think Candy Crush with sparkles, lightning and cool music!
Perfect to play with the kids, this is a word game that features bears – instant hit. Create a word and spaces the letters used are replaced by bears. Letters change color as they have been around too long and can turn into rocks, blocking the spread of bears. The aim is obviously to turn all of the letters into bears and there are treasure events to spur players on.
Crashlands is a 2016 release that has quickly moved to be one of the best ever Android games. The plot is that you play as an intergalactic trucker who has crashed landed on an alien world and needs to build a base, collect items and also save the world. It has a great combination of character development, collecting and crafting things and there are no in-app purchases, so it is safe to leave the kids playing it.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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