having just returned from south africa, i've been thinking about
cautious travel. although i had no problems there and it was absolutely
lovely, it was a place where i had to be more aware and think about being
cautious while preparing and while there.
cautious travel almost sounds like an oxymoron to me, because part of the reason
we LOVE travel is that it involves being carefree and not worrying or being cautious.
however, the world is a big place and when you're somewhere completely new,
sometimes you need to take some steps to cover your bases in order to really
enjoy a vacation and let loose. anywhere that you travel as a tourist can make
you a target for theft or other concerns, so it's something to be aware of.
so, here are a few of my...
- before you leave, take photos of each important document. thanks to technology, you can always be backed-up! i have a photo of my passport, drivers license, insurance cards, and any credit cards on my phone and i send them to my email so that if anything is stolen, i can at least access a copy online from anywhere. this helps you know what was in your wallet if it's stolen, and it's helpful for replacing passports etc.
- as much as possible, create an itinerary and share it with someone at home. i love to be off the grid and this may sound extreme, but you want to be sure you're easy to locate if anything happens ... either on your trip or at home!
- separate your money before you leave. be sure you have two or more credit cards, an ATM card, and phone numbers to cancel credit cards/access more funds if needed. part of this includes calling your credit card company to let them know you'll be out of the country so that your funds don't get blocked or frozen!
- be sure that you have good insurance ... either your own that will cover you while abroad, or travel insurance. i'm usually tempted not to select travel insurance when booking travel plans, but the idea is true that if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford travel. remember peace of mind is worth it!
- if you are traveling somewhere third world, look into vaccinations or precautions like malaria pills. getting sick while abroad is not worth the risk -- and in some countries, you won't be allowed to enter without the required vaccinations. so, be sure to look into this!
- while researching your trip and asking for advice on where to go, don't forget to ask where not to go. you can ask locals when you arrive as well, because sometimes neighborhoods change over time. we've known plenty of people come to san francisco and accidentally wander through the tenderloin at night since it's so close to union square. be aware of where you are and avoid certain areas at certain times!
- when you arrive, store your valuables at your hotel. don't forget to unpack them before going out to explore! if the hotel has an in-room safe, it never hurts to use it. either way, store them out of sight and in places you won't forget about them.
- act like a local. of course you can have your camera out and enjoy being a tourist, but be aware that people could be watching or targeting you for theft. don't flash cash when you go to the ATM, pull out your phone and wallet discreetly, be very aware of pickpockets and distractions, and don't look too clueless making you an easy target!
- have an emergency plan. whether you're alone or traveling with someone else, be sure to make a plan for if someone gets lost, mugged, etc. if you are abroad, think of somewhere to meet and how to communicate in an emergency.
- lastly -- if anything does happen, don't let it ruin your trip! unless you are seriously injured or harmed, a theft will only be worse if you don't enjoy the rest of your time. remember that travel is unpredictable, and it's a learning experience. if you've prepared the steps above, you can know that you've done all you can to be cautious, and enjoy the trip!
over to you! what are some of your cautious travel tips?