Spring is here and most people use this vacation time for international travel if they get the week off.
Traveling international is always exciting because it’s nice to get a break from your every day life and experience a new culture.
While going to an international destination is always fun, it’s important to be knowledgeable and prepared for anything that might arise.
I’ve been lucky enough to live and travel abroad, so I’ve got a good amount of experience when it comes to what and what not to do.
You rather be safe than sorry, so use these tips for international travel next time you’re hopping on a plane to the other side of the world.
1. Research safety, common crimes and scams in the country
This should definitely be your first step when choosing which international country to travel to. On travel.state.gov you can search each country and view the travel advisory levels to help you make your decision.
Each country has been given a travel advisory level with 1 being normal and 4 telling you NOT to travel there.
In addition, it’s good to Google common international scams such as taxi’s overcharging, pick-pocketing, fake police, and ATM skimmers and how to avoid them.
2. Have multiple copies of your passport
You can never be too prepared, so it’s best to have 3 different copies of your passport and that includes a paper copy, photo copy on your phone and a digital copy in your email.
Diversification is best because you never know if your bag, phone, wallet, both, or all three will get stolen (fingers crossed it never happens to you!), but you want to have all your bases covered making it easier and faster to get a new one issued.
3. Act like you know what you’re doing
There’s no better way to not make yourself a target by walking around like you know what you’re doing. You never want to walk around alone constantly looking at your phone or map trying to figure out where you are.
If you’re lost, pop into an local shop to check your phone and head back out on your quest and make sure to walk with your chin up and straight ahead.
4. Don’t travel alone at night and stay vigilant
My third tip easily brings me into this next one which is pretty self explanatory. You never want to travel alone especially at night in foreign places because you truly have no idea what kind of trouble you might run into.
If you do have to travel alone at night, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for suspicious activity, walk fast and have some of defense mechanism ready in case you begin to feel unsafe.
5. Let people back home know your travel plans
Just in case anything goes wrong, it’s always smart to email your travel itinerary and flight info to family and friends so there is at least one other person who is aware of your general whereabouts.
This definitely comes in handy when there’s unforeseen danger such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks that disable you from contacting loved ones back home.
6. Make note of the address and number of the U.S. embassy
As a precaution, you should write down the phone number and have a general idea of the location of a U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country you are traveling to just in case you run into an emergency while abroad.
The U.S. Embassy is your point of contact if you get detained, lose your passport, or are in midst of political warfare or natural disaster.
7. Join the step program on travel.usa.gov
The STEP Program stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and it’s a free service for U.S. citizen and nationals who are traveling or living abroad where they can enroll their trip with the U.S. Embassy.
By enrolling your trip you will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions about the country you’re traveling to, helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in case of an emergency such as natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family issue. In addition, it also makes it easier for family and friends to get in touch with you during an emergency.
8. Keep valuable items close to the body
This is a must when traveling in general, especially in Europe because they’ve got pick-pocketing down to an art. The culprits will usually have someone distract you by asking a question or begging for money while another person swipes whatever is easy and visible. Before you even realize something has been stolen, the thieves will already be off and out of sight.
It’s always best to swing your purse to the front or wear your backpack on your chest so no one can dig through your zippers and compartments whenever you’re stalled and not paying attention.
9. Don’t give out personal information
While making new friends abroad is fun, you should always be cautious of who you’re giving personal information to. Never give a stranger your entire travel plans or the address of where you are staying while on your trip.
You can even go as far as giving them a fake name if you feel really unsafe and a classic tip for people is to say you’re in a relationship or married to defer persistent foreigners. You can even go as far and keep a ring on the fourth finger of your left hand, which can keep strangers from approaching you romantically in the first place.
10. Have pepper spray and whistle attached to your backpack
Lastly is a tip everyone should be using whether traveling international or domestic, but you should always have some type of distress siren or defense weapon on your persons when out and about in case you need to call for help.
Pepper spray is a good one to have, but make sure it’s not expired and that you know how to use it properly so you don’t accidentally spray yourself. A whistle is simple to carry and use because it’s full proof and universally known as a signal for help.
Did these tips help you? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!