How to Stay Safe While Traveling


( – Embracing the preparedness lifestyle encompasses all aspects of life, including vacations. While being prepared for an emergency can be difficult enough at home, preparing for potential disasters while away can seem a bit overwhelming. Traveling means entering unfamiliar territory, especially when going abroad. New places and people create new challenges, but it isn’t impossible to be ready ahead of time.

Before Leaving

Regardless of whether the trip is for business or pleasure, safety remains the number one priority. A few preemptive measures can save the day should a bad situation arise while traveling. Here are a few to consider:

Share Information

Select a few people who aren’t going on the trip to act as home base contacts. They should be given all relevant information for the trip:

  • Flight numbers, departure and arrival times (if applicable)
  • Hotel phone numbers and addresses
  • Phone numbers for local law enforcement and US Embassies (if applicable)
  • Detailed travel itinerary

Setting up check-in times with one or more of these contacts is important as well. This will allow them to start searching for you should one of these check-ins be missed.

When traveling out of the country, it’s advisable to register with the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This provides important safety information about the destination and helps the local embassy get hold of you should an emergency arise (either locally or back home).

Do Some Research

Before leaving for a new destination, it’s a good idea to do some basic research on the area. Are there locations that should be avoided due to higher crime rates? Is it safe to drink the water? Are there any unusual local customs to be aware of? Are laws different there than back home?

Knowing the law is incredibly important when traveling to another country. Ignorance of the rules won’t keep anyone out of jail, should they be arrested.

Make note of places that may become important, such as hospitals, embassies, and police stations. Also, take care to research what threats are common in the area. If earthquakes are a known issue, learn how to prepare for one. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Gather Important Documents

The required documents will depend on the places that will be visited on the trip, but will almost certainly require a form of identification. Other important documents include passports, medical cards, and in some areas, vaccination records.

For added security, make copies of these documents and give them to the trusted individual or individuals who are serving as contacts back home. If the original documents are lost or stolen, they can provide the copies to local authorities (via email, for example).

Pack Smart

Make sure to pack items that will be necessary for survival based on the destination. This includes appropriate clothing for the climate, prescription medication, sunscreen, insect repellant, etc. Be sure to check ahead of time to see if medication and any survival gear is legal to possess in foreign countries. Again, not knowing an item or medicine is prohibited isn’t an excuse that will prevent time in jail.

While Traveling

Taking the time to prepare for a trip prior to leaving is important. Likewise, there are many actions a person should take to stay safe while on the trip.

Don’t Look Like a Tourist

Standing out in a crowd isn’t a good thing when it comes to traveling. Tourists are far more likely to be targeted by individuals with ill intent (such as pickpockets) than locals are.

Rather than dressing in clothing found at the local tourist traps, taking a gray man approach to clothing is more advisable. There are some aspects of a person’s appearance that may make it harder to blend in though. For example, being a six-foot-tall caucasian in Thailand may make it nearly impossible to fit in with the locals.

Even when it is hard to blend in with the crowd, there are a few things that anyone can do to attract less attention. Forgoing jewelry, which will attract the wrong kind of attention, is one.

Be Careful

While this goes without saying, be careful while traveling. Many people tend to let their guard down while on vacation, consuming more alcohol (or in some states and countries, controlled substances) than they normally would. Being intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics in an unfamiliar place can be a recipe for disaster.

Traveling on vacation is fun, but safety always comes first.

When traveling to, from, or within America, many people will be required to deal with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To make this process as pain-free as possible, take a look at our article on red flags the TSA looks for (and how to avoid them).

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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