How do you stay safe when travelling to another country?

How can I stay safe when travelling abroad?

Setting off on a global adventure can be thrilling and daunting. We’ve compiled a detailed guide for UK citizens to help you make the most of your international travels while staying safe. This guide goes beyond general travel advice to provide practical, destination-specific tips.

1. Detailed Destination Research

Every successful journey starts long before the flight, with thorough research about your chosen destination. 

Understand the local customs, laws, safety conditions, and political climate. The UK government’s foreign travel advice is a great starting point. Supplement this with information from travel sites and social media groups for first-hand insights and advice from fellow travellers.

2. Comprehensive Travel Insurance

While often viewed as an additional expense, travel insurance is your safety net when things don’t go as planned.  Look for a comprehensive policy that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or damaged baggage, and other unexpected events.

Always read the fine print and ensure you’re covered for any activities you plan to undertake, such as skiing or hiking.

3. Health Preparations

Check out the UK’s NHS Fit for Travel site or consult your local travel clinic for health advisories about your destination. Depending on where you’re going, you might need specific vaccinations or antimalarial tablets.  

If you’re on any prescription medication, pack an adequate supply, along with a doctor’s note explaining the necessity for these medicines.

4. Financial and Document Security

Let your bank know about your travel plans to avoid any disruption in card services due to suspicious foreign transactions. Be wary of using ATMs in secluded places, and avoid public Wi-Fi when carrying out sensitive transactions. 

Keep physical and digital copies of your key documents, like passports, visas, driver’s licenses, and insurance papers. 

5. Cultural Sensitivity

Being culturally sensitive isn’t just about respect; it’s also a crucial aspect of your safety. Understand the local customs, norms, and etiquette to avoid offending locals. Also, knowing what’s appropriate to wear can help you blend in and prevent unwanted attention.

6. Safe Accommodation and Transportation

Verify the safety of your accommodation, either through online reviews or recommendations from trusted sources.  

When using public transport, be alert and guard against pickpockets, especially in crowded areas. Familiarise yourself with local road laws if you plan to drive.

7. Emergency Contact

Before travelling abroad:

  1. Prepare a list of important emergency contacts.
  2. Include your home country’s embassy or consulate in your destination, local emergency services, travel insurance company, family member or friend back home, and bank contact details for card-related emergencies.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers for immediate help. This preparation will provide you with valuable resources in case of unforeseen circumstances.

8. Personal Safety Measures

Adopting a few simple habits can go a long way in ensuring personal safety. Try not to conspicuously display expensive belongings or jewellery, which may attract thieves.  

Avoid walking alone late at night, particularly in isolated or poorly lit areas. Always keep a close eye on your belongings, particularly in crowded places.

9. Food and Water Safety

While trying local cuisine is a massive part of the travel experience, you must take precautions to avoid food and water-borne illnesses. Only drink water that is sealed in bottles or has been boiled or treated.  Be cautious of street food; while it can be delicious, it can also carry health risks if hygiene standards are not maintained.

10. Staying Connected

In case of emergencies, it’s crucial to be able to reach out for help. Consider getting a local SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi device to stay connected. Share your travel itinerary and contact information with friends and family back home so they know where you’re supposed to be.

11. Understanding Local Scams

Every country has its own set of common tourist scams. Do a quick search about the ones prevalent in the area you’re visiting. Being aware of these can help you avoid getting tricked or losing money.

12. Respect for Wildlife and Environment

If your travel includes adventure or wildlife experiences, follow guidelines and respect local wildlife. Keep a safe distance and never feed wild animals. Respect the environment by not littering and following the local regulations related to waste disposal, recycling, and conservation.

13. Register with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office  (FCDO)

The FCDO offers a ‘Notify FCDO’ service that allows you to register your travel details and contact information. This service can be beneficial in an emergency, as the FCDO can get in touch and provide assistance.

14. Learn Basic Local Language Phrases

Having a basic understanding of the local language can be extremely helpful. Even just knowing phrases for “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and “help” can make a difference. 

It can also earn you appreciation from the locals. With these comprehensive, practical, and tailored tips, you can embrace the thrill of travel while ensuring your safety. 

Remember, the key lies in being prepared, aware, and embracing flexibility. Here’s to your upcoming journeys full of awe-inspiring experiences, unforgettable encounters, and the joy of discovering the world. Enjoy every moment and make memories to last a lifetime.