Travel Safety Tips

Read these 30 Travel Safety Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Travel Insurance tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

Safety in Your Hotel

-Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby. -Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe. -Let someone know when you expect to return if you are out late at night. -If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside. -Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. -Know how to report a fire. Be sure you know where the nearest fire exit and alternate exits are located. -Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit. This could be a life saver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.

   
Why should you do when you want to take out money from an ATM?

Cold Hard Cash Facts

Common sense is one thing that shouldn't change no matter what country you are in. True, in some areas you need to up your travel safety security. However, in all countries (including America) there are basic safety practices we should all practice. One way common sense can easily help you avoid harms way is when you're taking out money from an ATM. Cash machines are plentiful all over the world. So avoid taking money out from ATMs in poorly lit areas. Using ATMs located outside the store is also not a great idea. If you do need to take out money late at night go with a group of people instead of going alone.

   
Why should you make sure you drink a lot while flying?

Drink up While You're Up There

You might think that being in the desert and being on an airplane has nothing in common. Though you'd be wrong. Both airplanes and deserts have almost no humidity. Actually in some cases airplanes have even less humidity --- 1% - 10%. So make sure you keep hydrated on your flight. Take advantage of the drink cart when it comes around. If you are not used to flying it might be best to avoid alcoholic drinks since they can cause dehydration. As an extra precaution pack some bottled water.

   
What can you do reduce muscles being cramped while sitting on an airplane?

Aerobics In The Air

If you've never flown before you can compare it to sitting in the movie theater. Imagine sitting through two 3hour movies. That will give you an idea of how your body will feel on the average international trip (give or take a handful of hours.) After getting up from that experience your body might not feel so great. Your muscles might be cramped and have reduced circulation. To help, a lot of airlines offer in-flight exercise tips. These are simple stretching routines you can do in your seat to help reduce discomfort. Usually you can find them in a seat pocket in front of you or on the airline's website. However, due to regulations and safety you should refrain from these exercises until after the flight is done with the take off portion of the journey.

   
Why should you check with the front desk for information?

Front Desk: 1st With Answers

Hotels are not only just a place to find a warm meal and a bed. They can also be your lifeline to local life. They can recommend restaurants. Where the good shopping is located. They are part of the local community. So it would make sense to think that they would have an idea of what was going on if something happened. So before you venture to a computer or newsstands you might want to go to the front desk. In most cases they usually have people that speak English working the desk to help the tourist/customers. Since they also speak the local language they can serve as a translator. Letting you know what they hear on the radio or tv. If the hotel you're staying at does issue a warning it's probably best to follow what they say. Depending on how severe the incident is they might be receiving instructions from the local authorities to help keep you out of harm's way.

   
What type of tips should you give a teenager before they go off on an international trip?

Celebration In Moderation

Teenagers crave freedom. They want to drive by themselves. Be able to drink legally. And above all stay out as late as they want. If they are going to Europe without parental supervision they probably can get away with most of those things. Though, before they go, the one teenage travel safety tip they should understand is --moderation is the key to survival. This isn't something you are telling your kids because you are being a worrisome parent. Going all out, night and day can have a harsh effect on anyone's body – young or old. Especially if they are not used to that “rock star” way of life. Though, like any life lesson it might have to be learned on their own. The only thing you can do is offer your support. Advice. Respect them. And provide them with a phone card to call you if they get into trouble.

   
Why are signs so helpful in a foreign country?

When Traveling In A Country

-Always stay sober, alert and inconspicuous. -Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. -Keep phone numbers of local contacts with you. -Keep your money out of sight - never count it in public. -Find out where the "wrong" parts of town are and stay away. -Find out the location of the police stations and get phone numbers. -Avoid disturbances - go the other way, immediately. -Learn to operate the telephones the first day. -Always carry your passport, leave copy in security box -- unless local customs require otherwise. -Don't stop to investigate accidents. -If accosted try to stay calm, watch for escape. -If being followed go directly to the police, hotel, or office.

   

Safety on Public Transportation

If a country has a pattern of tourists travelling internationally being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is mentioned in the Consular Information Sheets under the "Crime Information" section. Taxis: Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. Trains: Well organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourists routes is a serious problem. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains. If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station. Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Criminals may also spray sleeping gas in train compartments. Where possible, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay awake. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage, strap your valuables to you and sleep on top of them as much as possible. Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where crime is a serious problem. Buses: The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses on popular tourist routes. For example, tourists have been drugged and robbed while sleeping on buses or in bus stations. In some countries whole bus loads of passengers have been held up and robbed by gangs of bandits.

   
Why else can a travel agent provide aside from the trip basics?

Let You Agency Be Your Guide

Booking a trip is also the best time to get information. Especially if you are doing it through a travel agency. They can help you with –


  • what hotels to stay at

  • when you should go

  • Where to eat

  • What sites to see


And yes international safety travel tips. Your travel agency has a wealth of informative brochures at their disposal. Plus, something you don't have access to – personal stories. They can give you advice based on people they know who have taken your trip. Did what you are about to do. So if you want to know more than just the basic stuff don't be afraid to speak up. Ask questions. It's the only way you'll get answers.

   
How can you avoid 2nd hand smoke?

2nd Hand Can Be A First Hand Problem

Cultures differ from country to country. Even if you are dealing with the same thing there could be two totally different views -- like tobacco. In the states there all kinds of laws and organizations that look to outlaw cigarette smoking. They not only want to prevent the harm it does to the body, but prevent the 2nd hand smoke that can hurt others. In Europe they are a little more relaxed with smoking. It is still popular and allowed in most places. If smoke bothers you then you should keep this in mind when going to restaurants and bars. A smart travel handy hint would be eating in outdoor, spacious areas to minimize your interaction with tobacco smoke.

   

Patterns of Crime Against Motorists

In many places frequented by tourists, including areas of southern Europe, victimization of motorists has been refined to an art. Where it is a problem, U.S. embassies are aware of it and consular officers try to work with local authorities to warn the public about the dangers. In some locations, these efforts at public awareness have paid off, reducing the frequency of incidents & increasing tourist safety. You may also wish to ask your rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist destinations. Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car. Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans, offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then steal the rescuer's luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you. Other criminals get your attention with abuse, either trying to drive you off the road, or causing an "accident" by rear-ending you or creating a "fender bender." In some urban areas, thieves don't waste time on ploys, they simply smash car windows at traffic lights, grab your valuables or your car and get away. In cities around the world, "defensive driving" has come to mean more than avoiding auto accidents; it means keeping an eye out for potentially criminal pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.

   
What can you do if you don't know the language?

Getting Your Point Across

Language can be a problem when traveling. Especially if you don't know it in the country you are staying. To help communicate there are a number of electronic translators and dictionaries that can assist you. However, you already posses a free universal communicating assistant -- your body. Gestures can be a big help in helping people understand you. You can ask for the time by pointing to your wrist. Do a gesture for eating. And of course fingers can be used when dealing with the number stuff -- like money.

   
Where is the best place to get foreign news from?

1st Hand Help

Remember playing the game telephone as a kid? A bunch of children in a circle each supposedly whispering the same thing in each others ears. Though, by the time it gets back to the beginning person it's not quite the same. If you are traveling internationally the last thing you want is to get your information that way. That's why your home newspaper might not be the best way to go for international travel warnings. It probably won't give you nearly as much detail as you would get from a local newspaper in the country you are staying in. Though, if it's not in your language it doesn't really help. That's why websites like Interpress are extremely helpful. They are like an international version of the associated press. So you can get a first hand account of whatever incident, in your language. You can find this website by going to - www.ips.org

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

How to Handle Money Safely

To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers' checks only as you need currency. Countersign travelers' checks only in front of the person who will cash them. Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction. Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market. If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of your plight. After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of: -travelers' checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company, -credit cards to the issuing company, -airline tickets to the airline or travel agent, -passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

   
What safety tips should I be aware of when I arrive at my destination?

Arrival At Destination

-Reconfirm your future flights - the local office may be able to assist. -Exchange a small amount of US dollars for local currency at the airport for taxi, tips, etc. You will usually get a better exchange rate at a bank. -Know who will meet you and ask them to be inconspicuous. -Register with consulate if staying several days. -Know your route from airport to lodging. -Request room above ground floor but not too high. -Check for exits and emergency instructions. -Plan your escape in case of fire. -Be sure your phone works -- call the desk. -Check the door locks - use doorstop if necessary. -Don't leave your key at the desk. -Always put valuables in the security boxes.

   
How can signs help you in a foreign country?

A Sign Of Things To Come

Signs. In the US you probably don't think much of them, except when you're driving or seeing if you can park in a certain place. When you are in a foreign country, signs can become much more valuable. Especially if you don't speak the language. Signs throughout the world usually offer an English translation. Which is a huge help. Though, to be on the safe side you may want to learn some of those foreign key words you might find on the country's signs like -- bathroom, hotel, train station, airport, etc. Thankfully even if you don't know the word you'll probably be able to figure out the meaning from the sign's symbol.

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

To Locate an American Embassy

Excellent Embassy Locator and Contact Information: www.tripresource.com/embassy.htm

   
How can I contact an American Embassy in a foreign country?

Safety on the Street

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in or avoid areas where you are likely to be victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and marginal areas of cities. -Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly-lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night. -Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances. -Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers. -Avoid scam artists. Beware of strangers who approach you, offering bargains or to be your guide. -Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will: jostle you, ask you for directions or the time, point to something spilled on your clothing, or distract you by creating a disturbance. -A child or even a woman carrying a baby can be a pickpocket. Beware of groups of vagrant children who create a distraction while picking your pocket. -Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers. -Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority. -Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand. -Learn a few phrases in the local language so you can signal your need for help, the police, or a doctor. Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. -If you are confronted, don't fight back. Give up your valuables. Your money and passport can be replaced, but you cannot.

   
Where can you find travel safety tips?

Surf For Safety

The internet can be a place where you can find endless amounts of useless spam-like stuff. It can also be a source for lots of useful information. Valuable tips that won't cost you a dime. If you know where to look you can find information on any topic including travel handy hints. Aside from the government sites the big name websites are the best places to start. Today, almost every good or service on the market has a website. On the site you will find useful information about the product. Plus, usage tips. So start by going to good or service sites directly related to travel – like travel agencies, airlines, etc. Other “not-so-related” companies might offer helpful information like credit cards because they also offer traveler checks. The best part is you can bookmark the sites you visit or print all the tips out to create your very own customized safety guidebook.

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

Travel Assistance Programs and Plans

Deciding what travel insurance to buy, and for how much, can be a daunting process. Here are some factors to consider: Primary elements of travel insurance include trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, accidental death or dismemberment, medical/dental coverage, transportation to adequate medical facilities, loss of luggage or personal possessions, and protection against the default or bankruptcy of suppliers. Other insurance options can include personal liability coverage for damages, legal defense, repatriation of remains, bad weather and many other contingencies.

   
Can you travel if you have a handicap?

Handicap Help

Having a handicap presents enough obstacles in life. Not being able to travel shouldn't be one of them. If you have the will then you can find a way. The only thing you have to really be honest about is what are your limitations. Then all you need to do is find a way to work around them. Probably your best bet is to not travel alone. Go with a friend. Family member. Someone that you trust will be there for you when you really need them. Though, if you want to travel, and not be a burden on any friend or family -- sign up for a tour. There are all kinds of tour groups that specialize in these types of trips. This way you'll get the professional care you need. Plus, you might be able to make some new friends along your journey.

   
Why should you visit an embassy?

Out Of Country Tips In Country

US plays host to all types of foreign embassies. In most cases a trip to the bookstore would easily suffice instead of a trip to one of these offices. However, you might change your mind if you are going to be staying for a considerable amount of time in a country with a lot of civil unrest. The embassy will offer you a chance to not only get information on VISAs and passports, but also the chance to talk to a citizen of the country. A person, who can fill you in on the safe travel precautions you should take. If you are interested in finding a specific embassy location you can find a listing of all of ‘em at usembassy.state.gov

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

When Driving in a Foreign Country

-Drive defensively - not aggressively. -Always keep windows up and doors locked. -Keep valuables and belongings out of sight. -Know your route, plan it ahead of time, and vary your routes. -Be suspicious of "accidents". -If attacked try to crouch down and drive away. -Keep the gas tank full at all times. -Watch for tampering with your auto - easier to spot on a dirty auto. -Avoid driving or renting expensive automobiles.

   
How can you make sure your electronics are safe?

Don't Be E-Oblivious

For the most part it's pretty easy to tell a tourist apart from everyone else. They have that confused look. A giant map pressed against their nose. A t-shirt proudly displaying some home school or different city name. Probably one of the worst ways a tourist can stick out has to do with the bags they carry. Usually they have a very noticeable camera bag (video, film or digital). Using these bags might be convenient to hold your electronics. However it does put all of your stuff at risk. The way the bags are designed you know right away they are holding those tech toys. Which makes it super easy for some less-than-honest individual to know what they should grab first. The solution is simple -- change your bag. Use an unassuming tote bag for cameras and any other electronic equipment. Plus, don't keep stuff like memory cards in the outside pockets to prevent easy pickings from pick-pocketers.

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

Travelers Safety Hints

-Always remember that you are a guest in another's country. -Obey all laws of the country you are in - no drugs - no smuggling. -Baggage - Most airlines allow two bags (max. 70 pounds each -- some size restrictions apply) for direct travel to and from the USA. -Check bags to your final destination. -Know what you are hand carrying for someone else. -Cash - Many countries require that you declare all of the cash (sometimes traveler checks as well) which you are bringing into the country. -Count your cash before leaving in an inconspicuous location. -Keep your currency forms with you. -Never discuss financial matters in public. -Travel Documents - Check all travel documents before leaving to ensure that they are valid for the duration of your trip, including extensions. -Airline Tickets - Check your airline tickets to ensure that routing is as planned and that you know ALL of your stops. -Packing Hints - The clothing you pack should always be appropriate for the climate and activities on your itinerary. The nor

   
What are some changes your body might experience when flying?

Flying Might Not Be So Swell

Riding a train doesn't feel much different than taking a car. Except maybe for the fact that you don't have to keep your eyes on the road at all times. If you are on a plane there are a bit more changes the body has to adjust to. This is mostly due to the change in cabin pressure. If you are a frequent air traveler you probably don't notice the changes anymore. However a first time traveler might feel different. A change in cabin pressure can cause your organs to swell. This can cause much discomfort to people who aren't used to it. To help, first time travelers should try not to overeat since it will only add to the problem. There's no law saying you can't pack your own food, so do it. Pack some healthy snacks like nutrition bars.

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

Top 10 Safety Tips for Travelers

1. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport (and visas, if required). Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport! 2. Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit. 3. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. 4. Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport. 5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. 6. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers. 7. If you plan to stay abroad for more than two weeks, upon arrival you should notify by phone or register in person with the U.S. embassy in the country you are visiting. This will facilitate communication in case someone contacts the embassy looking for you. 8. To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards. 9. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques. 10. If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.

   
What documents am I required to bring when I travel?

How to Avoid Legal Difficulties

When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws and are under its jurisdiction NOT the protection of the U.S. Constitution. You can be arrested overseas for actions that may be either legal or considered minor infractions in the United States. Be aware of what is considered criminal in the country where you are. Consular Information Sheets include information on unusual patterns of arrests in various countries when appropriate. Some of the offenses for which U.S. citizens have been arrested abroad are: Drug Violations: More than 1/3 of U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad are held on drug charges. Some countries do not distinguish between possession and trafficking. Many countries have mandatory sentences - even for possession of a small amount of marijuana or cocaine. A number of Americans have been arrested for possessing prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers and amphetamines, that they purchased legally in certain Asian countries and then brought to some countries in the Middle East where they are illegal. Other U.S. citizens have been arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. If in doubt about foreign drug laws, ask local authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Possession of Firearms: The places where U.S. citizens most often come into difficulties for illegal possession of firearms are nearby - Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Sentences for possession of firearms in Mexico can be up to 30 years. In general, firearms, even those legally registered in the U.S., cannot be brought into a country unless a permit is first obtained from the embassy or a consulate of that country and the firearm is registered with foreign authorities on arrival. (Note: If you take firearms or ammunition to another country, you cannot bring them back into the U.S. unless you register them with U.S. Customs before you leave the U.S.) Photography: In many countries you can be harassed or detained for photographing such things as police and military installations, government buildings, border areas and transportation facilities. If you are in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs. Purchasing Antiques: Americans have been arrested for purchasing souvenirs that were, or looked like, antiques and which local customs authorities believed were national treasures. This is especially true in Turkey, Egypt and Mexico. In countries where antiques are important, document your purchases as reproductions if that is the case, or if they are authentic, secure the necessary export permit (usually from the national museum.)

   
Can you travel as a senior citizen?

Getting Out In The Golden Years

Some people save their traveling for the moment right after they slice their cake at their retirement party. The one thing that's great about traveling when you're retired is you don't have to wait for a vacation to go. So you can say goodbye to high season travel prices. Though, remember traveling isn't just a vacation -- it's a bit of work too. Especially the getting to your destination part. So if you or your spouse is in need of a wheelchair in order to travel then check with your travel agent or the airline website. In most cases they will have assistance available. If you need help traveling check out travel websites geared towards your age group for ideas on what to do and where to go. Once you are in the countries senior assistance is usually available at places. At museums you can usually find audio tours that are made for people that are hard of hearing.

   
What are some good safety tips travelers should follow?

Airplane Ticket Protection Policies

Today, most airlines are issuing only nonrefundable tickets. Travelers who must cancel or change travel plans are forced to forfeit the cost of the ticket or incur hefty change fees. With Travel Guard's Air Ticket Protection Plan, you are covered. The Air Ticket Protection Plan covers against unexpected trip related expenses such as: • Trip cancellation, interruption and delay; • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage or travel documents; • Pre-Existing Medical Condition Waiver; • Flight Accident; • Baggage Delay; • Ticket Change fees (up to $100 if purchased within 7 days of deposit and for a covered reason).

   
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Guru Spotlight
Christina Chan