Travel hacker or not, there are many more people traveling internationally. Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, going on trips within the U.S. and abroad are two totally different things. For one, you are going to be much farther away from home, so even the smallest of emergencies can be devastating.
Making sure you take safety precautions will ensure you have a good time on your trip. It’s better to prepare now instead of suffering the consequences later. Even if you’re safe, you could be out of a lot of money if you don’t have a way of handling emergencies if they happen.
Keep addresses of emergency places
Make sure you know places you can turn to in case of emergencies. The first place you need to know is the whereabouts of the U.S. embassy. In case of political upheaval or legal troubles, the embassy is there to assist you. Also, knowing where the nearest police station is a good idea in case you need to report a crime. Knowing the location of doctor’s offices, pharmacies as well as hospitals is helpful in case of a medical emergency.
Once you have a list of these places, make sure the addresses are both in English and the local language.
That way locals can help you locate or drive you to these places. In addition, you can leave your whereabouts with the hotel just in case.
Learn a few key phrases
If you’re traveling to a place where English isn’t widely spoken, having a few phrases will help. If you’re lost, asking locals for directions is much easier when you know simple words. Imagine having to point and come up with ways to communicate without words. It may look funny, but it’s also frustrating as well.
Learning phrases will also be helpful if you’re in a tourist attraction and they don’t have signs in English. Or if you go to a restaurant and they don’t have photos in their menu. It’s little inconveniences like these that could leave you really stressed throughout your trip.
Avoid dark areas at night
As a visitor, you never know how safe an area really is. Even if your research indicates that you’re visiting a safe area, always keep your wits about you. When traveling alone, make sure you walk close to groups of people so you don’t stand out. If you feel uncomfortable at all, head over to really busy and well-lit areas such as a restaurant or a mall. If you need, to take a taxi back to the hotel.
Use credit cards as much as possible
While it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand, using your credit card is best. This is because you’re offered more protections and benefits by using a credit card than cash or debit. For example, you can get extended warranty and loss/damage coverage. Credit cards such as eligible Visa Signature ones offers extended warranties up to one year after the original one and claims up to $10,000. If you purchase expensive souvenirs, know that it could be protected even when you’re back home.
Another perk is that if your credit cards are stolen you are protected against fraud.
All you have to do is call your credit card company and they can look out for fraudulent charges. Those who have their cash or debit card stolen will have a hard time getting their money back. Also, any purchases made on a debit card may not be protected like a credit card.
If you plan on renting a car during your trip, your credit card may also provide rental car insurance. If you pay for your rental car with your card, you can get it at no additional cost. Having a Visa Signature card will cover you up to 31 days. Check to make sure what is actually covered because not all cards have the same insurance terms.
Use a good quality bag
Having a study bag will ensure that your valuables won’t get stolen too easily. Bags with flimsy straps or zippers make it easy for thieves to grab or reach into your bag. Believe it or not, there are some pretty talented thieves out there. All it takes is a few split seconds and you will have lost all your valuables.
As for what kind of bag to get, don’t bring one with you that’s too large. That way you don’t need to spend a lot of time looking through to find what you need. Also, see if you can find a bag with multiple or hidden pockets so thieves won’t know where your valuables are. There are bags out there that stay close to your body so that a thief cannot try to steal anything without you noticing first.
Don’t get too drunk
When you’re in a foreign country, you don’t want to make it easy for people to take advantage of you. You’re already a target for crime, so getting really drunk means you only increase that risk. There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks, but know what your limit is. As well, make sure your drink is with you at all times. It’s not fun to think about it, but you never know if someone drops something in your drink.
Keep valuables in more than one location
Carrying all your IDs, cash and credit cards in one place is never a good idea. In the event that your items do get stolen, you will have lost all of your sources of cash. Instead, keep some money in different places so you have some money on hand at all times. For example, if you have two credit cards, keep one in your wallet and another in your carry on bag.
Don’t make it obvious you’re a tourist
If locals know you’re a tourist, you may end up paying more for things. For example, if you’re trying to barter for goods at a store, the store owner may try to charge you a higher price. Looking like a tourist also means you bring more attention to yourself. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of thieves around you.
As for how to not look like a tourist, don’t constantly look at a map or a guide book.
If you get lost, just keep walking until you can ask for directions at a local shop. Other indicators include carrying a large camera and stopping and staring at everything in sight (even though you totally want to).
The bottom line
Traveling internationally should be a fun and exciting time. You get to learn about new cultures, try new foods and visit exotic destinations. While it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement, you’ll still need to be aware of what could go wrong during the trip.
Keep in mind all of the above tips before and during your trip. That way, you can share fun memories with family and friends instead of sad ones.