15 Ways to Stay Safe When You Travel

July 19, 2017

Stay safe when you travel! Here are some general travel safety tips for your travels.

One of the top searches around travel is whether or not a location is safe to visit. It’s natural to feel uneasy when you’re traveling to a new and unfamiliar place. Safety might not be the biggest concern for travelers visiting the U.S. or Europe, but through stories, the news, and statistics, other countries might prompt more research because of danger. While some destinations require more precaution and preparation than others, it’s always smart to stay alerted and think smartly to keep yourself safe when you travel!

Should you skip visiting a country because of safety? Not counting the obvious situations of a current war or dictatorship, I say go visit. Accidents, scams, and attacks happen everywhere. Don’t put yourself in danger (the below tips will help) but also don’t let fear because of an isolated incident hold you back.

Knowledge is power! Not only will it keep you safe but it will put you at ease when you travel. Here are some general safety tips for your travels.

1. Research your destination.

Know what to expect by researching the city, country, and culture. Be familiar with the dos and don’ts. Not only is this respectful of the traditions but it will keep you safe from the laws. This includes things like wearing clothes with more covering in conservative countries or not using certain hand signs. Also, find out the best neighborhoods to stay in and the parts of town you should be wary of going to.

2. Plan your trip.

Some might like spontaneity but I’m a Type-A planner. Yes, things can still go wrong with plans but at least I have peace of mind when I have my trip planned out. For example, this includes knowing how to find a ride from the airport when I arrive late at night or having the ride waiting for me when I arrive. Having a plan keeps me from making unsafe decisions when I need to make one quickly or when I’m stressed. It also helps me avoid potential scammers if they see I’m not sure what to do or where to go.

3. Double-check companies you employ by checking TripAdvisor and the Internet.

A wealth of information is at your fingertips. Find out how safe and credible the company is by researching reviews and if they have had any questionable business practices or incidences. This goes for tour companies, transport companies, hostels, and hotels.

4. Research known scams.

There are plenty of scams out there! They could include having one person distract you while another grabs your bag, selling you faulty items, selling your passport back to you, saying a service will cost you one amount only to raise the amount later. Be aware of what other travelers have experienced and know how to avoid the scams.

5. Use a lock on your suitcase and carry valuables close.

If someone is determined to break into your suitcase, it will happen, but a lock may sway some to not go through the hassle of figuring out how to break it. I’ve also read horror stories of airport security and crew stealing valuables from suitcases. Anything valuable should be on your carry-on. Check airline policies for having a lock on your suitcase. On ground transportation like trains and buses, keep your purse or backpack on your lap or at your feet.

6. Blend in.

Leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home. Don’t use noticeable camera bags. Try not to wear flashy, colorful clothing and dress more conservatively. Avoid anything that attracts attention and screams “I’m a tourist!”

7. Wear crossbody bags and beware of pickpockets.

Crossbody bags are harder to yank off of you when you’re walking down the street. If you carry a backpack, it’s recommended to wear it in front of you in some countries. Leaving your pockets empty (unless you have pockets with buttons or zippers) and bringing purses and bags with zippers will keep pickpockets from successfully stealing from you.

8. Have emergency phone numbers and addresses handy.

In the case of emergency, carry contact information of people who can help. This includes the tourist police, Embassy, and any local contacts you know. Know how to contact local police. If all fails, have a phone number of someone back home you can contact.

9. Secure your passport.

Always keep copies of your passport on you and a copy accessible online. Keep your passport in a hotel safe while you explore so that if something happens to your bag, you won’t lose it. Give a copy as collateral instead of the real thing when you’re renting something.

10. Take photos of anything you rent.

Photographic proof will help you dispute extra charges or dissuade owners from taking advantage of you in the first place.

11. Drink responsibly and watch your drinks.

Having fun is great but being safe is better. Watch the first episode of “The Night Of” if you want to consider how bad it could get. If I’m in an unfamiliar place and there is no one looking out for me, I want to be in control and remember everything that happened.

12. Designate an emergency contact.

Give a person back home your travel details, especially flight and hotel details, or ask them to keep track of your daily social posts. Check in regularly with this person if you’re away for a long time. They’ll be the one to alert people if you’ve gone missing.

13. Use good ATM practices.

Using an ATM of a bank is usually safer (and a better exchange rate) than one at a gas station. Always cover your pin. Make sure the machine is not missing parts or loose.

14. Carry small bills, and separate your money and credit cards.

Don’t be the tourist pulling out big bills or a big wad of cash to pay for things. Separate your bills in different areas, like some in your wallet and more in your purse. If you carry more than one credit or debit card, put them in separate wallets or areas so that if one is stolen, you have a back-up money source.

15. Don’t walk on beaches at night, and stick to busy, well-lit areas.

If you ever walk on a beach at night, you know it is usually pitch dark! You also want to avoid dark alleys. (Is that too obvious?)

I hope this list doesn’t scare you! Travel is an amazing experience, and preparation and knowledge will ensure you have nothing but good memories. The likelihood of something bad happening is slim but there are still bad eggs out there. Don’t let fear cloud your judgment of others. Stay alerted and aware!

Do you have any additional tips? Have any horror stories? Share them below!


P.S. Want to get the best hotel deals and have awesome hotel stays? Check out my 10 secrets for the best hotel booking and stay.

P.S.S. Feeling wanderlust? Take a look at my latest travel posts!


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Photo by Death to the Stock Photo

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  • Not the most glamorous side of travel, but this is such an important list! Blending in especially will make you less of a target for some of the other things you mentioned. When I was younger, my mom used to actually take us shopping at a second hand store when we first arrived somewhere to make we really looked the part. The internet has made it easier to prep your wardrobe beforehand, but to this day I still stop in to local charity shops and get a shirt or two when I’m somewhere new 🙂

  • Seriously, I’ve heard too many stories of people getting mugged on the beach! Although I stayed overnight at a beach before… the waves were scary enough at night haha!

    • I’ve camped on a beach before too but it was a national park so it was pretty quiet. Yes, I’d be scared about the possible critters I might step on!

  • Nerissa’s Wonderland

    Such a good post! So true about blending in and not wearing flashy jewellery etc. I always try to do this when I travel.

  • Anisa Alhilali

    Great tips. I would just add to never leave your belongings on the beach unattended. Also, don’t leave anything in the car unless you put it in the trunk, but make sure no one sees you putting it in the trunk! Also better to be safe than sorry!

  • Amy Rebecca Krigsman

    Safety while traveling is so important! Especially as a young female traveler.

  • Useful post! I traveled solo for 2 years and I have had to take these precautions.

  • Julie

    #7! I always take a crossbody bag when travelling! And I angle it more toward my front to that my hand always hits the bag. Good tips, Anita!

  • Super informative article with useful tips! Safety is very important!

  • Solid list! I think trying to be as aware of your surroundings as possible is really, really important, especially when it comes to pickpockets. I see a lot of tourists who just seem totally oblivious to world around them, which I think makes them easy targets.

  • Caitlin Wiltjer

    These are all such a great things to keep in mind while traveling! I think you nailed this list, thanks for sharing all your great tips. I will definitely be using these for my next trip!

  • Super important list so thanks for putting it all together! These will be helpful for my next trip for sure