People travel a lot nowadays. Some go abroad on business, the others take vacation trips or go to visit their family and friends. All of them feel enthusiastic and excited about their journey, and even if they do not expect a lot of pleasure from it, they at least want it to go smoothly and safe. Any trip, and especially a trip to a foreign country, entangles some risks and hazards, but it is within your power to minimize and avoid them if you take some simple precautions and remember some very simple tips.
1. Before you travel, make a copy of your passport and other important documents you are going to travel with, and keep the copies in a safe place separate from the original documents. Those copies may be of great help in case you lose your passport or it gets stolen. We all hope it will never happen, but it is wise to be well prepared for the worst. Same applies to your credit card: write down its number and other important bank data, including your bank’s contact phone, and keep your notes in a safe place as well.
2. Find out the location and contact info of your country’s embassy or consulate closest to where you are going. You should remember that one of the primary tasks of any embassy is to protect and to assist their country’s citizens abroad, so don’t hesitate to contact your embassy in case you need help. For their own citizens, the embassy is open 24/7, and if you are detained by the local police or any other authority (God forbid!), you can demand an interview with your country’s consul. Nobody can deny you that.
3. Avoid travelling with plenty of cash. I don’t suggest you travel penniless; just remember that cash is very unsafe: in case you lose it, or if it gets stolen, you will never be able to recover your money. Credit cards are much safer: you can at least call your bank and block the card and thus, prevent money from being stolen from your account if you lose the card. Travelers’ cheques are the safest: they are payable exclusively to the person named on them (that is, to you), and even if somebody steals your cheque, they won’t be able to cash it. As for the money, you’ll be able to recover it later. The only problem is that in some countries, travelers’ cheques are not widely used, so you will have to cash them at some bank anyways.
4. If you travel by air, NEVER put anything valuable into the luggage you are going to check in. Same applies to breakable items: you better put them into your hand luggage. You never know what can happen: depending on where you are going, your checked in luggage can be stolen, lost or broken. (A friend of mine who travels a lot once said, avoid travelling with expensive cases and bags which attract too much attention. Sound advice, too: whoever is interested in poking about in your luggage will most likely be discouraged by the look of your bag. There’s little chance a cheap looking piece contains anything valuable inside)
5. When we travel, we have to spend hours locked up in the plane or waiting for connecting flights at the airport. It is natural that people get bored and in search of entertainment, get to talking to their neighbors and fellow passengers. Nothing wrong with that, you may not only while away your time, but also make some useful contacts. But don’t trust your new acquaintances too much, even if they happen to come from your own country/city. Don’t share your travelling plans with them, especially if you travel on business. Same applies to other chance acquaintances: they may look and sound very nice, but you never know what they are up to. Be very careful accepting their invitations to share meals and especially drinks with them, you never know what it may end up with.
6. Try to find as much info as possible about the country you are travelling to, its customs, traditions and laws. It may save you time when you travel on business – not much fun arriving in a distant land to find out that you are going to waste a lot of your precious time because the whole country’s going on public holidays for 3-4 days. But wasting time is one thing; in some countries trivial actions (as we see them) may be considered serious offence punishable with heavy fines or even imprisonment, and being a foreigner is not an excuse. For example, throwing a cigarette butt on the ground in Singapore may cost you $200 – I guess you can think of a better way to spend this money, can’t you? Some gestures or even the way you dress may be considered offensive – the clothes issue mostly applies to ladies travelling to Muslim countries, but men should be careful as well.
Don’t overlook hints and advice guidebooks or travelling sites suggest. Same applies to the advice coming from the locals: if they say that certain places are not safe, you better not go there, unless you look for adventures.
7. Don’t hesitate to use Internet to book your flight or accommodation online. It is absolutely safe provided you use well-known and reliable websites or book directly on the airline’s website. By the way, most Western airlines also offer hotel booking, car rentals and even entertainment.
8. Don’t overdo with local food or drinks. Tasting some tempting specialties of the local cuisine is always very exciting, but your body may be less enthusiastic about exotic and unfamiliar food than your adventurous brain. Did you travel abroad to spend several days in bed because of indigestion – and that is in the best of cases?
9. If you are on long-time medication or suffer from a chronic disease, don’t forget to take a good stock of the medicine you normally take. Even if you are in good health, it is not a bad idea to stock up with some basic drugs such as a pain reliever, anti-fever and anti – indigestion pills. You never know, and in some countries you can’t buy as much as a bottle of aspirin without a local doctor’s prescription.
10. Don’t hesitate to address police, security officers at the airport, banks or shopping centers – or anyone wearing uniform in case you are in trouble or simply need some assistance. In most countries, those officials are quite friendly and approachable, especially to foreigners, and they can render you almost any kind of help.
So well, wherever you travel, don’t relax too much even if you are on vacation, keep your eyes open and watch out… and enjoy your trip! 🙂