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6 Travel Safety Tips for Couples – Before You Travel

Part one, “Before You Travel”, of our two part Travel Safety Tips for Couples series. Read our tips to minimise your risks on your next travel adventure.

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Adela Snowboarding Broken Collarbone

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 last week. Our travel safety tips can be used for solo female travellers (and males) as well as travelling couples.

We get asked a lot of questions regarding travel safety tips for couples because we like stepping outside of our comfort zones. That is not to say that we put ourselves in harms way, we aren’t that stupid. But we travel with open minds rather than being shrouded in fear.

Mint Tea in Egypt

If we heeded everyone’s advice we wouldn’t have enjoyed this mint tea in a local Egyptian market.

6 travel safety tips for couples, before you travel

Don’t listen to what others, mostly the media, have to say.The world is NOT dangerous or unsafe. While there are dangerous people and destinations, they are a really small percentage of the world.

You are probably more likely to get into trouble in your home country rather than from travelling.

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. And it has happened to us. We think we travel smart and our experiences prove that. But we have also had our fair share of things go wrong while travelling.

A broken collarbone, internal bleeding, lost luggage and lost passports to name a few.

Travel Safety Tips for Couples, Broken Collarbone

But after 3 years of travel we think that is pretty good. Especially since we have yet to have anything stolen (touch wood). By using a few simple travel safety tips, we have cut down our risks.

And minimising risks doesn’t start when you begin travelling. Travel safety starts at home before you go.

By using our travel safety tips for couples, and solo travellers, you can minimse your own travel safety concerns.

Before you go: Travel Safety Tips for Couples

These are the travel safety tips you should implement before you actually leave home.

Travel Safety Tips: Do your research before you travel

The first thing you want to do is research the destination. You can quite easily find out from locals, not other tourists, the safest places in a city. Online there are local forums, websites and other travel blogs for every destination in the world.

Read it all and talk to your friends. But please don’t discount somewhere just because of one persons bad experience. Use your own common-sense to decide if you really should go or not.

No two peoples travel adventures are ever the same.

Travel Safety Tips: Buy Travel Insurance that covers everything

So far our travel injury bills after 3+ years have totalled more than $105,000.

Adela broke her collarbone, I ruptured my appendix and had internal bleeding from a snowboarding accident. Luckily our comprehensive travel insurance meant that we were fully covered for the full amounts.

New Zealand Snowboarding Grim Lab

Take a moment to think about what you might get up to while travelling as not all travel insurance is the same. For example, some may include snow adventures and other extreme sports, while others won’t. You can usually add on extras if you know what you what activities you might be doing.

We recommend you check out World Nomads Insurance who will cover most situations. Just be sure to read the fine print.

Travel Safety Tips: Leave your valuables behind

In most countries you should try and blend in and not advertise that you are a tourist. And more importantly, a wealthy tourist. You will likely stick out like a sore thumb anyway, but advertising it by wearing fancy jewellery or carrying an expensive camera around is best avoided.

Adela always leaves her jewellery at home but will usually end up buying something locally made. It supports them and ensures you won’t get your nicest stuff stolen, or lost.

Depending upon where you travel, you may also want to consider leaving laptops and other expensive gear at home. If it is not feasible like us, as we travel with a lot of gear to keep this travel blog running, you can usually lock gear in your room safe or behind the check-in desk.

Much better than carrying it around all day too. You might also want to consider buying a “money belt” (examples here) that wrap around your waist underneath your shirt.

Travel Safety Tips: Get vaccinated

Vaccinations can be quite tricky to organise. We recommend visiting your doctor a few months before you travel to find out what you may need to get vaccinated for.

Some vaccinations/immunisations for certain destinations will actually require you to have several injections over the course of a few months. You may also need to prove to border control that you have been immunised when you travel.

Travel Safety Tips: Scan all your major documents

The final travel safety tip is to make sure you have a copy of all your travel documents. We used to carry around a folder with photocopies of our passports, relevant visas, travel insurance etc. As well as leave copies with our families.

Now we are able to just use Dropbox to store all our important travel documents online. Extra travel tip: We also use Dropbox for storing our photos online so that we won’t ever lose them.

These online copies can then be used if we ever need to print off documents or in case we lose something important while travelling. Of course if you are trekking through remote areas it might be best to print them BEFORE you leave!

Travel Safety Tips: Notify your bank

While notifying your bank that you are going overseas won’t stop your credit cards or money getting stolen. It may stop them (hopefully) from cancelling any cards that they suspect are being used fraudulently while you still have them.

Banks monitor suspected fraudulent use and will stop a card from working if they suspect it has been used in the wrong place. It should only take one phone call to reactivate it but letting them know your travel plans never hurts.

They can also provide advice on who to contact should your cards be stolen. Which means that you should keep a record of your credit card numbers and bank phone numbers if you need to cancel them. Just don’t record the security numbers too!

Do you have any special travel safety tips you do before you leave home?

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Larissa

    February 11, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Great tips-and I’m proud to say we’ve done all of the above 🙂

    I woud also add that it’s good to check into if you’ll need malaria medication where you’re headed, and if so bring the meds with you (or possibly even start the regimen before you leave home).

    • Cole Burmester

      February 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Malaria is a good point Larissa! We haven’t needed it yet so it slipped our minds for the list 🙂

  2. Steph | DiscoveringIce.com

    February 11, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Great list…we really need to get our docs on Dropbox too!
    Another tip we use is to research and always travel with reputable bus companies, especially in countries like Colombia. It is better to pay a little extra to stay safe, plus we got stuck on a really crappy bus (that was a replacement for another one that never bothered showing up!) because we left it too late to book our tickets. Planning ahead is one of the best ways to avoid being stuck in dangerous situations too!
    Happy and safe travels!
    Steph

    • Cole Burmester

      February 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM

      Great extra tips Steph! Definitely a good idea paying a little extra for transportation. I have also found that the longer we travel, the less planning I do. I guess I am happier taking chances and going with the flow now 😉

  3. Micki

    February 11, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Excellent tips.

    I think that sticking to the common sense safety tips you use at home is a great starting point; things like being careful where you walk (especially at night), keeping expensive gear out of sight, and keeping your wits about you when drinking (or having someone watch out for you).

    It’s funny how many people seem to think that when they’re on vacation, and taking a break from their every day lives, that these rules somehow don’t apply any more.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Definitely Micki! Like I said, everyone seems to forget their common sense and brains when they travel, when in reality this is when you need both. It is fine to relax, but still be cautious 🙂

  4. Rachel

    February 12, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    I sometimes think of traveling alone, but these kind of tragedy is stopping me, or maybe I’m just not that independent? or brave enough? Maybe flying solo isn’t for everyone.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      Hey Rachel, thanks for your comment. It is a shame that you are worried about travelling alone but you are right, it isn’t for everyone. I suggest though that you go on Twitter and search for the tag #WeGoSolo. Lots of female solo travellers writing about how safe solo travel is at the moment using that #Hashtag!

  5. Vera

    February 12, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    Good tips! I think you basically have it covered with this post, and I’m glad travel insurance made your list:) I just always try to think ahead of the worst case scenario (comes naturally…) and then try to keep the risk of it happening as small as possible, or the consequences should it happen as less impacty as possible. With that kind of mostly mental preparation I feel more in control. And nothing bad has ever happened to me *knockonwoood* but to be honest, I believe there’s a portion of good luck involved, as well, and it doesn’t matter if you’re travelling or at home when your guardian angel looks away for a second. Also, devastating stuff is always going to be devastating, and it happens at home as well. Stay safe, whereever you are:)!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      Brilliant points Vera! Mentally preparing is a good idea for any situation. Expecting that nothing will happen to you is probably a bad idea so any preparation is time well spent. And agree that there is luck involved, to a degree anyway 😉

  6. Wends of Journeys and Travels

    February 12, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    great tips and one which I have had yet to do even after traveling solo for sometime now. will definitely get insured 🙂 thanks for this post.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      We have had wayyyyy too many problems not to travel with insurance any more! Definitely check out World Nomads, they cover everything 🙂

  7. Pingback: #Travel Tag Roundup 2/12: Scotland Views and Travel News - Travel Freak

  8. Jeremy Branham

    February 12, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Yikes on the shoulder injury. Just reading about it sounded pretty gruesome.

    As a budget traveler (most of the time), I pack light and don’t carry many valuable things. However, I did forget to notify my bank on a trip to Europe once. What a pain!

    Another travel tip – don’t go snowboarding with you two 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      Haha definitely don’t go snowboarding with us 😉 They refused to take Adela down in the ambulance until I handed over my credit card too! Crazy.

  9. Suitcase Stories - Nicole

    February 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Great tips! I am happy to say we did/do all of these for our travels. We’ve been traveling as a couple full time for almost 12 months now and I think its because we were so prepared that we haven’t run into any problems. It worries me when I hear of travelers not getting travel insurance (to save money!) and your incident just proves why its SO important!

    Thanks for the tips.. I will forward this post to a friend of ours who is just about to take off on a 12 month trip!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 12, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      When we first started travelling we hated buying insurance as we thought it was such a waste of money! Fair to say we were glad we did 😉

  10. Brandon Elijah Scott

    February 12, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Great blog!!

  11. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    February 12, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Great tips guys! I get a bit blasé about keeping my electronics locked away when I’m out of my hotel room. I’m thinking I’ll need to get better about it when we travel through Central America. Maybe a pacsafe for our laptop backpack?

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 7:02 AM

      We haven’t used a pacsafe ourselves, but have heard good things about them. It totally depends on where you are travelling, and while I actually don’t think Central America is any unsafer than Europe, it is probably a good idea!

  12. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    February 13, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Most important part of this: don’t trust the media when it comes to safety while traveling, or safety in other countries. This is especially true in Western countries where the media looooves to spread propaganda regarding how “dangerous” and “backwards” other countries are in comparison.

    Otherwise, good notes, especially the insurance if you plan on doing any adventure activities.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 7:03 AM

      I am sure that when you tell people that you live in Mexico they freak out and tell you that it is a drug-infested unsafe country because the news told them that! Frustrates me so much. People need to open their own eyes and ears.

  13. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    February 13, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    I thikn I’ve been extremely lucky when I’ve traveled, and that I’ve gotten out of sticky situations unscathed (having my room ransacked in Acapulco while I was down at the pool sticks out at the most potentially dangerous – the door was broken and the wood split!!).

    I’m now struggling with what to do with my eletronic while I walk the Camino de Santiago in August – I would love to take my reflex and Air to document it all, but the thought of carrying them and risking that they could get taken in the albergues makes me nevous (one stolen laptop this year is enough!)

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      As long as you have backed up all your photos and documents before you go, and leave them at home, then I think you should be fine to take your gear with you. Of course making sure that insurance would cover them in the event they were stolen. My friend did it and said she had no problems 😉

  14. Angela

    February 13, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    While I think it’s ridiculous to fuel fear on traveling, either alone or in a group, I also believe dismissing precautions is dangerous. I’ve just been robbed in Fortaleza, Brazil, I didn’t even have my camera, just a small bag with only my keys inside. I was on the beach in the morning with other people around. I confess it scared me how easy it was for that guy just to snatch my bag off my neck. Needless to say, locals had warned me that even if I had a small bag I would have been robbed 99%, but I didn’t believe it was so dangerous. Serves me right, now I’ll sure avoid going out taking photos, either alone or with other people.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Not quite sure if you are agreeing with our points or not Angela… But that really sucks that you just got robbed! Horrible experience and I am sure it has left a bad taste in your mouth about the area. Hope your luck changes!

  15. Dana

    February 13, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Thanks for the tips! We are getting ready to go on a cruise to Mexico and the Caribbean and this is the 1st time we’ve bought travel insurance. I hope we don’t need it, but we’ve got it if we do!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Good idea getting the travel insurance. The one time you forget you will need it!

  16. Ali

    February 13, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Male, female, couples, solo, we all need pretty much the same safety precautions. Definitely get your vaccines, though weigh the pros and cons of malaria pills and if the area you’re going to *really* has a risk for it. I try not to bring anything with me I wouldn’t mind losing, although I would be devastated to lose my camera or laptop. And good tips on scanning your documents and notifying the bank, I always do those too. Luckily I’ve never had any issues, but always worth taking that simple step to protect yourself.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 13, 2013 at 7:54 PM

      Probably one of the reasons why you have never had any issues is because you are so prepared Ali 😉

  17. Val-This Way To Paradise

    February 14, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Great advice!! Thank you…

  18. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    February 14, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    More info about the travel medical insurance you guys have….we gave up our US insurance policy years ago because it was a waste of money that did us no good on the road. Not happy to have no coverage so let us know the name of the company you guys are covered with…

    • Cole Burmester

      February 15, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      The insurance we had while we were in North America covered everything but was organised through a company in New Zealand called IEP. They help with visas etc. We definitely recommend World Nomads now though as they will cover every situation. The link is in the post 😉 I am sure they would love to work with you guys too as you are completely unique!

  19. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    February 17, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Great tips, and ones we usually follow as well! I’m surprised by how many people I come across who are afraid to travel — or who are afraid to travel outside of group tours — simply because of a few fears that could be easily addressed.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      We get asked about our safety all the time. Even for countries that basically have no risk. Most peoples own cities are probably more dangerous than the places we visit!

  20. Linda McCormick

    February 18, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Here’s one more travel safety tip: don’t wear your passport/money pouch around your neck… on the outside of your clothes! If I had a dollar for the amount of times I’ve seen this I would be a very rich woman.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      I know! I totally don’t get why you would be a pouch if you were just going to leave it in plain sight!

  21. Mary - Green Global Travel

    February 20, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Great tips. I’m especially a fan of photo copying all the contents of your wallet.

  22. The Guy

    March 4, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    Some good tips here, thanks for sharing. I think travel insurance is the one most and you should always seek the best deal, not the cheapest.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 5, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Getting the right travel insurance is definitely one of the main travel safety tips you should do before you travel. And you are totally right, cheapest is not a very good option!

  23. Suzanne

    March 8, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    The most important thing to consider is the safety prior travelling. Getting a reliable insurance is a wise step but it’s wiser to research all the details of the place where you’re heading to avoid any problems. When you are well-informed about a certain place and you get the idea on how and what to act in the instance that you’re already in that place. Blogs and travel magazines are great resources.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      Definitely agree with you Suzanne 😉 Can’t prepare enough before you travel. But you also want an openmind and lots of flexibility!

  24. Liz

    March 9, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    I would also say one of the most important things to do is READ the terms and conditions of your travel insurance. What is omitted? Can you claim for the same thing twice e.g. theft? It’s worth paying more for travel insurance if the terms and conditions are good.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 9, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      Great points Liz! You can’t be too careful with insurance, and what looksmlike a good deal couldmend up costing you more money in the long run.

  25. cuttysark

    March 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Nice Tips!

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Personal Musings

Why Reward Points are Important For Frequent Travellers

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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.

 

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Travel Tips

The Importance of Travel Insurance

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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!

 

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Travel Tips

4 Fun Apps for Travelers

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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.

1010

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.

Bejeweled Blitz

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!

Alphabear

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

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.

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe 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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