There are some things you definitely won’t forget to do on your overseas vacation. You won’t forget to consume too many calories, to spend too much money or to Instagram too many pictures of your favorite meals. But while you’re busy gallivanting around Europe, Asia or wherever else your world adventures take you, don’t forget the most important detail of all: security.
Sure, security may not be the most fascinating aspect of international travel (that would be discovering that you can buy beer at a McDonald’s in Europe). But the truth is that you can’t have a satisfying trip without also having a safe trip.
With that in mind, here are 10 key travel security tips to keep in mind as you broaden your horizons:
1. Pack selectively.
The golden rule of international travel is to pack as lightly as possible. The less you pack, the easier it will be to keep track of everything, and the less likely you will be to lose something valuable. (Not to mention the fact that it’s extremely difficult to lug around two suitcases and a backpack while you are running to catch a bus – which you’ll surely be doing at some point.)
2. Think small.
You should definitely spend some time thinking about what kind of purse or bag you want to carry around with you while you are traveling. Over-the-shoulder, bulky purses are not ideal because they make easier targets for thieves. A smaller, cross-body purse with a zipper is a much better choice. You may also want to consider wearing a money-belt to keep your credit cards, passport and other valuable items safe. It may not be the most fashionable of options but it is definitely the most secure.
3. Mind your manners.
Before visiting a new country, you should learn a little about its unique customs and social norms. This can help you avoid an unintentional altercation. It may also improve your chances of getting help if you ever find yourself in a bind.
4. Mind the laws.
Manners are important, but so are laws. You should try to learn a little about the laws in the countries you will be visiting and how they differ from U.S. laws. For instance, in some countries it is illegal to carry around a pocket knife or pepper spray, so you should definitely leave these items at home.
5. Buy a lock.
If you are planning to do extensive international travel, chances are you will end up snoozing on at least a few trains and buses. Consider purchasing a small lock that you can use to secure your bags before you drift off to sleep. You should also remember to keep your purse or bag on your lap while you sleep. This will make it less accessible to thieves who might try to grab it while walking by.
6. Research your hostel.
Hostels can be a fun, inexpensive way to travel abroad, but you should do some research before you settle on one. When researching a hostel, find out whether they have lockers for guests to use. Hostel lockers are extremely important, since you will be sharing a room with strangers.
7. Don’t walk alone at night.
Just don’t do it. Enough said.
8. Make an itinerary.
Even if you have all of your plans memorized, you should still make a copy of your itinerary to leave with a friend or family member. Don’t travel somewhere without telling anyone where you are going.
9. Don’t trust everyone.
One of the most fun parts of traveling abroad is meeting new people and learning about new cultures. You should not feel afraid to talk to strangers – in fact, your trip might not be much fun if you only keep to yourself. But you also should be careful about trusting people you have just met. Be wary of strangers who approach you on the street, asking for help or directions – this is sometimes a decoy so that another person can sneak up to steal your purse or wallet.
10. Remember what your mom said.
If Mom always told you to trust your instinct and avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable, then she was right. A little common sense can go a long way when it comes to travel (and life in general, for that matter).
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