For many people, traveling to a foreign country is the dream of a lifetime. Experiencing the sights, sounds, and cuisine of another culture can be thrilling. In this day and age, it can also be dangerous. Everything from illness to crime can ruin your vacation. The following are a few tips to keep you safe and sound while traveling abroad.
Make Sure Others Know Your Plans:
Make sure your family or a friend has a copy of your itinerary, including flight and hotel information. You should also make a point of sending quick updates on a daily basis letting them know you are ok. Social media is a good way to stay in touch while abroad, but be sure you check privacy settings and avoid revealing too much information publicly. Thieves frequently troll social media to find out when people are on vacation in order to break into their homes.
Expect the Unexpected:
Do your homework ahead of time, so you will be prepared in the case of an emergency:
• Know the location of the nearest U.S. Embassy.
• Find out the location of the closest hospital.
• Don’t keep all your cash and credit cards in one location. You should also notify your credit card company of your plans, so they will not shut your card down unexpectedly.
• Copy or scan important documents such as passports.
• Know how to contact emergency services in the country where you are traveling.
• Invest in an international calling plan.
Depending on where you are traveling, sanitation and food safety can be a major concern. Be proactive about preventing illness during your vacation:
• Talk to your doctor before your trip to make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations.
• Drink only bottled water.
• Avoid ice cubes. They can be made from contaminated water.
• Don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables unless it is something with a thick skin such as a banana or orange.
• Practice good hand hygiene.
Enroll in STEP:
Take a few minutes to enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You will receive important travel alerts and other information for the area you will be visiting. The program also makes it easier for the government to assist you in the event of an emergency.
Be Smart When Exploring:
Even if you feel comfortable in a city, it is easy to wind up in a less than desirable neighborhood. Stay safe by taking guided tours, downloading a reputable travel guide, or getting advice from your hotel concierge.
Finally, stay alert and trust your instincts. Don’t get so engrossed in sight-seeing that you don’t really notice what people are doing around you.