After traveling to every country in the world, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to staying safe abroad, especially in countries considered “dangerous.”
When planning trips off the beaten path, it’s natural to worry about getting robbed, mugged, or thrown into a sketchy situation. Here, I want to share with you my tricks of turning that anxiety into practical, precautionary confidence.
So, what’s the most important thing to do, regardless of where you’re headed? Get travel insurance or a European Health Card. Trust me, it’s always worth it. When my flight to Kathmandu was canceled because of a 7.9 earthquake in Nepal, I was reimbursed, because I had insurance. It doesn’t get better than that. I also have travelers insurance through some of my travel credit cards that I use.
1. Research the country before you go
This should always be the first thing that you do before any trip. Google is your best friend. Wikipedia is another valuable tool. And it goes without saying, watch YouTube videos! Stay up to date on the country’s current situation with Tripadvisor, Lonely Planet, or any other resources that you find online and trust.
2. Talk to friends who’ve been there
Do you have any friends who’ve been to the place you’re going?
Ask them about it!
Did you know that it’s actually really simple to find out if you know people who have been to a destination? All you have to do is search on Facebook: “Friends who have been to [city].” And then, Facebook’s magical algorithm will show you everyone you know who has been there!
I do this all the time and it works like a charm. How amazing is that?
3. Reach out to bloggers who wrote about the destination
While you’re doing research online, try to find blog posts from people (like myself) who have been to the place and written about it. Bloggers are very personable and they are easy to contact. After all, the whole point of blogging is to be an influence and inspire others, so it’s their job to help out!
I get emails everyday from people asking me for travel advice and I’m always happy to provide. And whenever I reach out to other bloggers for advice, they are consistently kind and informative!
For example, before I went to Egypt, I reached out to travel blogger Justin from True Nomads who lives there, and he gave me the rundown.
4. Get yourself the proper gear
Having the proper gear will make you less vulnerable to getting stuff stolen, and will attract less attention from strangers on the road.
First, get a nice backpack that is not too flashy (I use an Osprey 40 liter backpack).
Buy small locks with a 3-letter combination to keep your bag secure, especially when your bag is not on your person.
I also recommend getting a small flexible safe that you can tie to your hostel bed, where you can store all of your valuables.
Another thing is to bring plain clothes, so you don’t stand out like a tourist. This is very important for safety.
5. Use your common sense
Last but not least, just use your brain! Shockingly enough, not everyone has common sense like you’d think. The more travel experiences you have under your belt, the more common sense you’ll build.
Having common sense is not going down a dark alley at night by yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Luxembourg or Uruguay or Australia – just don’t put yourself in that situation.
Always judge people (and taxi drivers) before you meet them. If someone seems sketchy, then say “no thanks” and walk away. The more you open yourself up to these kinds of people, the likelier they are going to bother or follow you.
Write down your hotel address and have it handy. This way, you won’t have to ask strangers for directions or fumble around your stuff to find the address.
Print copies of your passport and credit cards in case they get lost or stolen.
These are just some of the ways to prepare yourself and feel secure before your trip. Don’t forget to check out my Travel Hacking Course for more. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me! Safe travels!