Whether you’re traveling internationally or taking a domestic trip, it’s importance to always practice safe…sightseeing 🙂 Despite what the news tells us, we’ve learned that most countries are generally safe and welcoming to foreigners. Unfortunately, bad things happen everywhere. They happen in big cities and they happen in small towns. Disaster does not discriminate. But if you take precautions, are open minded, and have an understanding of statistics, you’ll know that places and the people in them are much more welcoming and much kinder than the news tells us (and the chances of something happening are very slim). However, we don’t want to downplay the importance of safety while traveling. Before traveling, take these steps to ensure your travel safety and please don’t let the news stop you from visiting destinations!

  • Register your trip with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). STEP will allow the local embassy to know that you’re in the area and it can alert you if there is a natural disaster, civil unrest, or an event you should know about. This is by far our number one travel safety tip for international travel.
  • Send a friend or family member your itinerary. If there is something urgent, a trusted family member or friend should be able to get in touch. Tip: If you can include dates and phone numbers of the destinations, even better.
  • Keep a copy of your passport accessible (electronically is great via google drive or Dropbox). If you lose your passport like I did in Barcelona in 2008 (left it on an airplane!), it will make it much easier to get a new one at the embassy!
  • Don’t wear flashy jewelry. This may seem obvious, but flashy jewelry will make you an easy target for theft. When traveling, try to only pack “costume” jewelry and not the real thing. If you have very valuable jewelry and don’t want to leave it at home, get a safety deposit box at your local bank.
  • Keep a limited amount of cash on you and try not to bring your ATM card out. In the chance that you do get robbed, it’s best to have the lowest amount of cash on you. This is all about risk vs. reward.
  • Don’t take your phone out while on the street. In the age when our phones are basically attached to our faces, it’s rare not to have our phones out. However, a person can easily snatch your phone right out of your hands. Trust me, it happened to me while I was looking for a Laundromat on Google Maps while in Phnom Phen, Cambodia. I thought I was “safe” and a motorcycle drove onto the sidewalk and the guy took my phone right from my hand while Scott was next to me. It all happened in an instant and it was gone. Try to have a general understanding of where you’re going before you step onto the street and if you do get lost or need to look at your phone, pull into a café or safe place before taking it out.
  • Tell a friend or family member when you’re going somewhere. Let them know that you’re going to check in at a certain time. If you don’t, they have the right to call and check on you (or call your hotel/travel buddy). This is a specifically important travel safety tip for my solo female travelers out there!
  • Check all ATM’s. Before taking money out of an ATM, pull on the card reader to make sure there is not a fake reader on it. Certain areas of the world have card scanners on ATM’s that will read your card number and have a camera for your pin number. Pull on the card reader first and cover your hand as you type in your number to take extra precaution.
  • Buy travel insurance. I was never a travel insurance kind of gal until I went on an around the world trip and actually needed it (gasp!) Travel insurance is fairly cheap and it can save a lot of money. If you’re a daredevil and love adventure, make sure that your travel insurance company covers things like bungee jumping or hang gliding before you jump off of a mountain 🙂 Just saying.
  • Call your bank. Before you travel, especially out of the country, let your bank and credit cards know. You can set a lower limit of cash withdrawals or require approvals for charges over a certain amount to safeguard yourself. Also, if you told them that you’re traveling to Italy, but you all of a sudden have charges from Ireland, they’ll know something is up.

What are some travel safety tips you swear by?