Some countries are more dangerous than others and depending on where you go you might need to be more careful than usually. Especially if you are not an experienced traveller, you might be wondering how to stay safe while traveling. Theft and accidents do happen but if you stick to the following tips you should be able to stay safe on your next backpacking trip.
To get an idea of the safety of a specific destination you can always check the guidelines of your government beforehand. However, if I might say, most of the times they are just super extreme and make it seem like every place you would like to go to is dangerous. I don’t think that is true at all.
Over the past years that I have travelled extensively, I have managed to never get in any dangerous situations, even though I do not always follow my own guidelines. I have walked through the Australian outback in the middle of the night, hitchhiked or taken drinks from strangers which could have gotten terribly wrong. To be honest the worst thing that ever happened, was that someone kept stealing my toast bread from the hostel kitchen. Bummer.
But let’s get started: 15 tips on how to stay safe while traveling
1. Always lock your valuables away
I’m going to assume that this one is obvious but I’m going to mention it anyway. Don’t leave your phone and wallet lying around on your hostel bed. I’ve seen people doing that before for some reason. WHY?!
Always carry a lock with you so you can lock away your belongings. And it can’t hurt to carry around a spare lock if you want to lock your backpack whilst walking or in case one gets lost. (If you have too many locks, you could use it as currency as well. In Bali I exchanged a lock against some beers with another traveller, which seemed like a good deal at the time).
2. Hold your bag in front of you while walking
This might sound a bit extreme but you can never be too careful. I always hold my bag in front of me and in a way that does not expose any zippers. If you have a backpack then hold kind of side ways as well or lock it if you want to carry it on your back.
3. Only take money out on ATM’s where you feel safe
If you want to get cash out of the ATM then you’d be best of sticking to tourist areas. If you notice any suspicious people hanging around the ATM then do not get cash out and lock for another one. I always feel a lot safer as well if there is a queue of people waiting to get cash out. Even better if they are the same age as me and look like typical tourists.
4. Bring two bank cards and never keep them at the same place
This is not only important for when your credit card gets stolen but also for when one gets blocked or stops working for some reasons. Not every country takes the same cards and there is nothing worse than not having any money left.
5. Take an Uber instead of Taxis
Not every country has Uber but if they do then this might sometimes be safer than taking a Taxi. Don’t ask me why but in Central America they were telling us to not take Taxis, especially at night. So if you travel to a country where taxis might not be the safest option due to robbery, you can take an Uber instead.
6. Don’t walk alone when it’s dark or when you are in sketchy areas
Also check beforehand which areas of a city should be avoided.
7. Don’t show your valuables around
Especially in poor countries you are best of not even bringing too many expensive things with you. But if you do want to then don’t necessarily flash it around and check out this guide on how to keep your valuables safe while travelling.
8. Always watch your drink
I heard a lot of stories of people getting drugged on a night out and it can really happen anywhere. So don’t take drinks from strangers and don’t leave you drink out of your sight and you should be alright.
9. Don’t travel to places you are not comfortable with
Wait until you get more travel experience before you travel to places that scare you a little. I’m all for going out of your comfort zone but there are limits to that.
10. Trust your own instincts
This usually works for me. Don’t get yourself in any situations you are not sure about. Trust your gut feeling and you will do fine.
11. Write down emergency numbers
It’s always useful to write down the emergency number from your credit card company. If your card gets stolen you can easily call them and get your card blocked. Also the number of the police or ambulance for any specific country should be useful.
12. Learn a few phrases in the local language
Not everyone speaks English, so make sure to know some phrases in the language spoken at your destination. You can also carry a small language travel guide around or have a language app on your phone. Whatever works best for you as long as you will be able to communicate with locals in case of an emergency.
13. Have copies of all your important documents
In some countries you might be obligated to carry around a passport copy at all times but in general it can never hurt to have some copies with you. Just in case something gets lost. It can also be useful to carry around a hard drive with your important documents or have them on your laptop if you travel with a laptop.
14. Make sure your accommodation is in a safe area
If you need some time to get comfortable in a new place, then start off staying in the tourist area. That will usually be the safest area, where you will also find everything that you need.
15. Get all you vaccinations and travel insurance
Make sure to check beforehand which vaccinations you need before entering a country. And don’t forget to get travel insurance incase anything goes wrong or you injure yourself while traveling.
These were my tips on how to stay safe while traveling! Do you have anything to add? Or have you ever been in a dangerous situation while traveling or travelled to a place that you did not feel safe in?
For me that was San José, Costa Rica to be honest.
Talk to you soon x
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Thank you, that is a great tip! True, people were always telling us in Cambodia.
Great list. I’d also add, avoid holding your phone, camera, or other valuables in your hand while close to the street in certain countries.
In Thailand, and especially Vietnam, it is somewhat common for thieves on a motorbike to snatch your phone right out of your hand. I’m sure it is this way in other countries too.
Thank you, that is a great tip! True, people were always telling us in Cambodia to make sure to hold on to all our belongings while in the Tuk Tuk and to be especially careful when the motorbikes would drive by 🙂
That’s good advice for riding in a tuk tuk anywhere in the world.
Some of the Tuk Tuks even have cages to prevent snatch and grabs because they’re so common. It does impede the view a bit though.
Great advice! I follow a lot of these (locking valuables away, carrying my bag in front of me, etc.) – but I learned a few new tricks. It can be a scary world out there and you can’t ever be too careful!
One additional comment I would say concerning bank cards, leave them locked up in your room and don’t carry them with you unless you are taking money out.
Good point, totally agree 🙂
I totally agree with your Uber comment instead of cabs. We got ripped off by an unofficial cab in San Jose, Costa Rica and ended up paying 3x what we should have. I would honestly avoid San Jose altogether if you can!
The same thing happened to me, too!! Also in San Jose, I had just arrived and made the mistake of taking one of the cabs that were waiting outside of the bus station. The driver was using a taximetre but it ended up being a total rip off..
This is a great post- I always feel self conscious in my own country taking money out of an ATM. I will definitely being taking spare cards with me
Thank you! Haha good idea, nothing worse than getting your card blocked and not having a backup card with you 🙂
Great travel tips for a safe journey. Would definitely share this one. Thanks for sharing.
Any time 🙂
The beauty of traveling is to embrace the unknown and we kind love that fear of the unexpected that keeps our fire burning inside! However we have to always be careful and as much as we love adventure, everything can happen! Following some of the tips already and they are key essentials 🙂
Have an amazing day,
Patricia & Miguel
Thanks guys! I totally agree. Have a nice day as well 🙂
Great tips. I am a global security advisor and write travel briefs for people visiting countries that are not the safest. I enjoyed your article and will use some of your tips.
Some good tips! Thanks for sharing!