There’s been much in the news lately that would make one hesitate about visiting destinations abroad that are considered safe. Don’t let these negative perceptions or headlines interrupt a great vacation. Just like back home, it's important to implement some basic precautions to avoid any unsafe situations.
Personal travel safety is all about being aware of one’s surroundings and putting some basic techniques into practice. A travel advisor will assist with in-depth safety precautions, and etiquette on a particular destination. After that, it’s all about enjoyment and having a great trip.
Here is an important safety short-list for travelers.
- Purchase travel insurance: Have adequate travel insurance for the trip. This cannot be emphasized strongly enough. If the trip is expensive and one can’t afford to lose the trip investment, trip cancellation and interruption coverage protects one before leaving and is forced to suddenly return. Having adequate travel medical and evacuation coverage is imperative in avoiding the high cost of medical care anywhere.
- Learn about the culture: While the rules for dressing appropriately vary widely from country to country, the most restrictive rules are still universally applied to women. There are also dress codes for religious sites, such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where visitors, men and women, will be turned away for bare shoulders or legs. Learn a few language basics, invaluable for meeting people and asking for assistance and pay attention to forbidden gesture rules.
- Trust the gut – always: The best guide is one’s own intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, turn around and get out of there. If a person is making you uncomfortable, move away from them and toward other people. If someone is persistently insistent on making unwanted advances or gaining your attention, get loud and call attention to the problem.
- Keep control of your belongings: Keep your daypacks and across-the-body purse straps on, never hanging on the back of a chair or loose under the table. Load your own bags onto a bus, train, or taxi or at least watch to see that your things are actually securely loaded before boarding. Watch your belongings at crosswalks – a popular site for pickpockets – and when standing in line. Those behind or to the side of may have their hands in your pockets!
- Notify the US State Department: The mission of the US State Department is to protect the lives and interests of American citizens abroad. Their actions may come in the form of warnings or advice, or if the situation is serious, a recommendation to leave the foreign country. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is designed so that travelers can manage their travel itineraries and receive updates about where they are traveling.