With graduation and summer quickly approaching here in the U.S., people are dreaming about trading those long hours at the office or all of the late night studying sessions in for their next summer getaway. For some, this may mean a short trip to the beach. For others, they are packing their bags and writing their itineraries for an international adventure.
Traveling internationally with your best friends is an incredible experience to get excited about, but it’s also something to take very seriously. In the months before your departure you may hear your parents nag you about being safe. You can roll your eyes and ignore them all you want, but their concerns definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. We’ve all seen the movies or read the news stories about a spring breaker or college graduate that decides to take a trip internationally and never returns home because they’ve vanished with no trace.
While this is not an everyday occurrence and plenty of people travel abroad with no problems, these horrific stories DO happen. Nobody is invincible and when you start believing you are, this is where things can go wrong.
If you’re traveling abroad or thinking about it, here are our suggestions for staying safe:
First, research the country you plan on visiting. By visiting the Travel.State.Gov. website, you can click on your destination and it will tell you the exact conditions abroad that may affect your safety and security. They will give you important information such as crime rates, security, health and medical considerations, and where you can find your embassy if needed. This site will let you know the level of risk foreign travelers are taking by visiting.
This next suggestion is important, but is surprisingly ignored: NEVER ever give out personal information like where you’re staying or where your itinerary is taking you (have you seen Taken???). One of the best parts about international travel is the people you’ll meet, but no matter how trustworthy your new friend may seem, the most untrustworthy people know exactly what to say and do to gain your trust. It’s a huge red flag if you’ve met someone who keeps asking where you’re staying or specific dates and times. We’ve had people ask us details about where we’re staying or where we’re going next and Taylor will smoothly lie and we’ll move on to another topic. Let’s be real, there’s absolutely no reason for someone we’ve just met to know where we’re staying.
If you’re traveling alone, make sure someone from home knows your exact itinerary. Plans change, so keep them updated about where you’ve been and where you’re going. You don’t need to tell them your every move, but just check in every once in a while.
There’s something exciting about traveling to a new place and making friends from all over the globe. If you do decide to meet up with other travelers or local people, make sure you meet in a populated area and avoid traveling alone at night. Don’t arrange to meet at a hotel (see point above) or in a private location.
Depending where you’re traveling to, you will probably stand out as a tourist or foreigner. In some countries, tourists are welcomed and treated like royalty because their economy relies on the tourist income. On the other hand, there’s places where it’s best to lay low and draw the least amount of attention to yourself possible. Leave the flashy expensive jewelry and clothing at home. You’ll notice in most of our pictures abroad that we wear very neutral and basic pieces. Not only does this make it easier to pack, but it keeps us from obnoxiously standing out. If you stand out as a tourist, you can draw negative attention to yourself. This leads us to our next point.
When traveling to a country that requires a passport or visa, it’s important to carry these documents with you.We like to make photo copies of our documents to carry with us and leave with family members for emergencies. In some countries you are expected to carry your real documents around with you for questioning. For example, when in China, we were expected to have our documents on us at all times incase we were stopped by any government official for questioning.
When carrying your important documents and other personal items, don’t stick these in your pockets or in open bags and purses. Pitpocketers will try to take whatever they can. If you are carrying a bag, keep it in front and close to your body and never leave your belongings unattended. Notice the backpack on the back of the man in the picture below: With so many zippers to access the inside, it’s easy for someone in a crowded environment to take something. With Taylor’s bag in front of him, nobody will try and take anything. These pitpocketers are trained and do this for a living (especially in high tourist areas) so don’t let your ego convince you that you’ll “feel it” if someone tries to take something.
When traveling internationally, chances are you’ll need to use a different currency. For your safety, never flash your money around and it is best to keep it separated. Whether you get money from an ATM or Transfer center, collect your money, put it away, and count it later. Personally, we prefer to use a credit card (with no fees or exchange rates) because it’s quick and we don’t have to worry about carrying cash around. It’s best to keep your cash and cards separated so if one does fall into the wrong hands, you’ll always have the other.
Chances are you wont have a car when you’re traveling abroad. Yes, you can rent a car, but most people take public transportation. If you are taking a taxi, don’t get into a car that’s unmarked or looks suspicious. If your ride comes to get you and something seems “off,” kindly decline and wait for another. Just because the car stopped for you, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to take it.
Don’t pet stray animals. No matter how cute and fluffy they may be. For example, dogs in America are pets, but in some foreign countries they are wild and don’t know how to interact with people.
Although these safety tips are highly suggested when traveling internationally, it all comes down to common sense. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Use your best judgement and enjoy the experience!
Thank’s for reading and stay safe!! 🙂