Traveling, whether inside your country or to another, can be risky. Preparing yourself and traveling safely can greatly reduce or eliminate a lot of the risks associated with travel. Inform yourself on keeping your personal information safe, look out for any possible terrorist activity or threats, and always have emergency information on hand to keep yourself safe. Purchasing travel insurance and learning what to do in an emergency situation can help to make your trip enjoyable and keep you out of harm’s way.
Identity Protection/Document Safety
With the recent increase in identity theft crimes, protecting your sensitive information in your daily life is important. It is just as important, if not more so, to keep your information safe while traveling. Leaving your home unattended provides thieves with the chance to steal personal documents from your home and computer, putting your bank accounts and credit score at risk. Studies have also found that thieves are more likely to prey on obvious tourists; taking steps to keep your photo ID, passports and credit cards safe while on the road can help to protect you from these issues. Here are some ways you can protect your identity and documents.
- Before leaving for your trip, make sure that the information you leave behind is protected. Lock your personal documents, including social security cards, credit statements and other information a person could use to steal your identity in a safe. If you have a trusted neighbor in the area, ask if they can keep an eye on your home while you’re gone and notify the police of any suspicious activity.
- Stop the delivery of mail and newspapers while you’re away. An overflowing mailbox or several papers in your driveway is a huge indication to potential thieves that you’re away from home. If possible, leave a few lights on in your home; this can give the illusion that someone is there, even if there isn’t.
- Notify your bank and credit card companies that you’re leaving town, especially if you’re traveling to a foreign country. This will allow them to flag any transactions made in your absence, and protect you from possible issues once you get to your destination. Many companies, due to the increase in identity theft, will put a hold on an account if an unusual transaction is made in a foreign country. By letting them know where you will be, you can greatly reduce the risk of any unnecessary headaches while traveling.
- Once you reach your destination, take advantage of your hotel’s safe. Most major hotels and motels offer visitors with access to a personal safe, either in their room or in the hotel office, so you can store any personal documents while you are away from your room. Use the safe to store anything you aren’t taking with you that could be used to steal your information; wallets, passports and laptops should never be left unattended in a hotel room.
- If you use online banking, try to avoid checking your account over the internet, especially in internet cafes. The wireless internet used at most of these locations is relatively easy to hack into; logging into your account or accessing other personal information can provide a hacker with your account information and passwords, leaving your money at risk.
Terrorism & Travel
When traveling outside of the country, it is important to research the terrorism threat level of your destination. This can tell you what areas you need to avoid and, in some cases, if you are legally allowed to travel to the country at all. In the least, doing this type of research can better prepare you for your trip, allowing you to keep in mind and be on the lookout for any possible threats to yourself or your family. It is also important when traveling to another country to locate your country’s embassy. In many cases, you can check in with your embassy when you enter the country and when you leave. If the worst happens, the embassy will have a record of your presence and may be able to help protect you from a terrorist threat.
Traveling safely means keeping all of your emergency information on hand. This can include contact information for a family member or any medical information that could determine the type of care you receive if you’re in an accident. Many people choose to keep this type of document in their wallet. Listing prescriptions you’re currently taking, any allergies you may have and who to contact in case of emergency can ensure that you’re treated in the best manner possible.
For frequent travelers, investing in travel insurance can be extremely beneficial. The most common type of travel insurance is trip cancellation/interruption coverage. In the event that you cannot make a flight, whether due to illness, death, weather or government duty (military or jury duty), you can get the cost of your travel refunded to you from the insurance company. If, before your trip, your government issues a warning about the country you will be traveling to, this type of insurance policy will often refund the cost of the trip.
Travel insurance can also be useful for medical emergencies. Many health insurance companies only cover care in a specific area. If you’re traveling and have a medical emergency, travel insurance may pay for what your usual health insurance company will not. Travel insurance ranges from very basic, cheap packages that are good for a single trip to more comprehensive packages for frequent travelers. Insuring your trip before you leave can save you a great deal of money and protect you in emergency situations.
What To Do In An Emergency Situation
If you’re faced with an emergency situation while traveling, it is important to keep a cool head. If you’re facing a medical emergency, ensure that a close friend or family member is contacted as soon as you are able to do so. If you’re facing car trouble, contact not only the local authorities but also your car insurance company. In many cases, your insurance company can track down phone numbers for you, send a tow truck to your location, and get a head start on any claims if you’ve been in an accident. While emergency situations are stressful even when you’re home, they can be even more stressful when you’re in a place you aren’t familiar with. Knowing who to contact and staying as calm as possible can make things go a lot smoother.
Basic Safety Tips
Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, should be as enjoyable and safe as possible. By following these few safety tips, you can be on your way to making the best of your trip.
- Protect your luggage. Use covered luggage tags so your home address is not visible to others, and stay with your baggage until is is checked. This can protect your property from being stolen, and prevent anyone from placing things in your luggage that aren’t yours.
- Make sure any prescription medications you have on you are in their original bottle and labeled with your name, your doctor’s name, and the pharmacy’s name. This can protect you from legal troubles if your bags are checked.
- Wearing flashy jewelry or pulling out wads of cash to pay for items can be considered a green light for pickpockets and thieves. Keep things simple and safe.
- When in your hotel, make sure the windows are locked and you utilize the deadbolt on the entrance door. If at all possible, only stay in hotels that use a key card for the doors, rather than a metal key.
- If you’re traveling with a child, make sure you have a current photo of them in the event that they become lost. A recent picture can make it much easier for authorities to find a missing child.
- Keep your passport hidden and only show it to legal authorities if requested.
- If you’re traveling to a country with a high crime rate, consider hiring a security escort for your protection.
While you can’t always plan for the worst or even prevent it from happening, you can make sure that your information is as protected as possible and you are prepared to handle any situation or emergency. Traveling, while not without its risks, can be an enjoyable experience. Staying aware of your surroundings, keeping a cool head, and making sure you are organized and prepared is the best and safest way to travel, whether to another town or another country.