Travel is fun and exciting. It has been a very large part of my adult life that I feel very fortunate to have experienced. However in today's world there is nowhere that is completely safe, in all cities there exists a criminal element and tourists are often the easiest targets. It is of course impossible to eliminate 100% of threats but safe travel can be achieved through preparation, caution and common sense.
Find out what, if any, coverage your health insurance provider supplies while you are overseas. There are some health insurance companies that will pay "reasonable" hospital costs abroad. Make sure it would cover extended hospital stays and more importantly evacuation back to the United States or Canada which can easily cost up to $100,000 or even more. Very few providers offer this in their standard plans. If you are not properly protected consider a Travel insurance package that included these elements. - More in TRAVEL INSURANCE TIPS
Scan or take digital images of all your documents. Email them to a friend or a family member and to yourself. Or upload into a cloud like DropBox. In case of emergency or if your documents are lost or stolen you can retrieve it from a hotel or Internet Cafe even if you have lost all your luggage.
Documents to make copies of include:
Pickpockets look for easy and obvious targets, like the wallet in the jeans back pocket. Use an inside pocket or a pocket with buttons. I recommend some form of money belt or travel pouch that hangs inside of your shirt or around your waist. Make sure it is comfortable and waterproof.
Protecting your luggage requires constant vigil. You cannot leave it unattended for any amount of time be it in an airport, train station, train or even a plane. Always have a lock for your luggage using a TSA-approved padlocks that help to ensure that airport security don’t just cut it off.
This should go without saying but leave jewelry, expensive watches and designer accessories at home. A gold watch can create unnecessary temptation and a physical danger that would not otherwise exist. It also perpetuates hostility of foreigners flaunting their extensive wealth. I travel with a simple watch worth about $10 and a cheap pair of UV sunglasses.
It is always good practice even in better hotels, to protect your possessions. If there is a safe, use it for your money, cards and a passport. Take only the money you will be using for the day and one credit card. The rest (or if there is not a safe) put into your luggage and lock your luggage. For an extra protection use a portable door alarms; they are very inexpensive and work well.
Everywhere I have been I see travelers leaving their bags at their feet or hanging from the back of chairs when they are at cafes or restaurants. I also see cameras that were diligently strapped all day now lying on a table with tablets and iPhones. The best protection is to wrap the strap around your leg and keep the camera on your lap and the tablets in the bag.
Although it can wrench at the heart especially when they are children, it is usually best not to give anything and just keep walking. Quite often if you show generosity to one, suddenly dozens more appear. It can also be a ruse to get you to get your wallet out of which is then quickly grabbed and they disappear into the crowd. As I wrote before I keep some small denomination coins or bills in a pocket away from your money belt for situations like this and for small purchases.
Internet cafes' computers may have software or even hardware that records your key strokes and therefore passwords. If you can avoid them do. If not, at least make sure your browser is in a privacy mode and clear the history before you leave. If on a Wifi use a VPN. Good free programs are TunnelBear and Cyberghost
The first is don't drink to where your judgment is impaired, too many unfortunate situations started with too many drinks. Finally it is not paying attention to your environment. If you find yourself suddenly out of the tourist area, then it is best to turn around. Keep conscious of who are the people around you, are there any other tourists, has it gotten louder or quieter. See if you are being closely watched. Most importantly, are you feeling uncomfortable? It is best to error on caution and return to where you felt more secure.
Have fun and safe travels.
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