Traveling is one of the most life changing experiences you can have. The people you meet, the food you eat and the sights you see are by far the best way to grow as an individual. It also helps you feel more connected to the world around you. However, traveling is not always perfect and surely at some point, something can go wrong. Read these tips to help minimize your chances of having something terrible happen.

1. Organize All Important Documents

  • Get the appropriate vaccines if needed and make sure you have enough prescription medication with you
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of travel dates
  • Give a trusted family member or friend a copy of or access to your passport, travel itinerary (including phone numbers/emails of places you are staying), bank details, passwords, etc.
  • Have a paper copy and an electronic copy of ALL important travel documents
  • Have an emergency bank account or credit card
  • Get travelers insurance
  • If your accommodation provides lockers/safes – lock your original passport in there and carry a printed copy or a digital document on your phone

2. Research Where You Are Going

There are many things that should be researched before traveling.  These are some examples of things to consider:

  • The local emergency phone number
  • Where the embassy is located
  • Local laws and rules – including proper etiquette
  • Important and commonly used words in the local language
  • If your phone will work there or if you will need a SIM card
  • If there are places you should avoid
  • Join Facebook groups about the place you are traveling to
  • If there are any natural disasters that could potentially happen and what the areas emergency plan is
  • If there are any wars, terrorism and/or political unrest

3. Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • If you are walking alone, avoid listening to music too loud or being distracted by looking down at your phone
  • If you are partying, make sure you know your limits and always stay in control of your body
  • Let people know where you are going and if/when they should expect you back

4. Carry a List of Emergency Contacts and Any Medical Conditions You May Suffer From

Include information such as:

  • A point of contact from home
  • Any allergies you suffer from – foods and medications
  • Any medications you are on
  • If you live with any form of mental illness – anxiety and depression included

5. Travel With a First Aid Kit

Your first aid kit should include:

  • Bandaids
  • Gauze
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Lighter or matches
  • Baby wipes
  • Disinfectant or hand sanitizer
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Pain relievers
  • Imodium
  • Water
  • Snacks

6. Make Smart Choices and Take Calculated Risks

  • Pay attention to the weather and always be prepared with the right gear
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back
  • Don’t do anything that you are uncomfortable with
  • Listen to locals
  • Don’t walk alone at night, especially after drinking or partying

7. Be Smart With Your Belongings

  • Pack light
  • Don’t put things in your back pocket
  • If you are walking through a crowded place or traveling on public transport wear your backpack on your front
  • Always keep your belongings in eyesight
  • Always keep your phone, passport, and wallet within reach
  • Keep cash and cards separate
  • Lock your things up when you can

8. Be Aware of Scams

There will always be people looking to scam tourists out of money, the most common scams that individuals have experienced include:

  • Broken taxi meters – more common in Central and South America. Taxi drivers can tell you their meter is broken and then charge you heaps of money – agree on a price before you start driving
  • Beggars – this is common in big cities all over the world. You may experience homeless looking kids asking you for money or trying to sell you cheap drugs. Instead of handing over cash, offer to buy them food instead.
  • While not very common, but still common enough to have made a tv show about it – don’t travel with packages or suitcases that are not yours – knowingly or unknowingly you could be transporting illegal goods

9. Fake or Corrupt Police Officers

This is more common in the bigger cities in developing or third world countries.

  • Sometimes police can pull you over for some insignificant reason and you have to end up bribing them
  • This has also happened with the “police” stashing a small amount of drugs on you then require you to pay money to get out of it

10. Money Exchange

  • Always go to banks or the airport for the most up to date exchange rate
  • Always count your change

11. Stay Healthy

This is especially important if you’re traveling through a place that has different diets and hygiene.

  • Ask if the water is clean to drink, you can boil water if you are unsure
  • Always carry baby wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Always wear a condom
  • If you’re camping or staying in hostels, bring rubber flip flops for the shower, also invest in a toothbrush cap

12. Always Trust Your Instincts!

  • Listen to your gut
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Be careful of the situations you find yourself in
  • Make friends with fellow travelers
  • Ask for advice from locals
  • Ask for help if you need it
  • Stay in touch with someone from home

Follow these tips to stay safe while traveling abroad. Getting out into the world and experiencing different places and cultures will be an unforgettable time in your life, so make it memorable for all the right reasons.