Getting the opportunity to travel is a treat for most people. But staying safe is key to having an unforgettable experience. After reports of six Americans dying in the Dominican Republic, as well as the shooting of Red Sox legend David Ortiz, it’s wise to take precaution while traveling. Here are 10 ways to stay safe while traveling abroad.
1. Check out the State Department’s Travel Advisory Site
The U.S. State Department updates their travel advisories on a case by case basis. As of April 15, the Dominican Republic is listed as Level 2, which is the second best level. That said, the shooting and some of the deaths have occurred after the advisory was made.
2. Make electronic copies of your travel documents.
This includes itineraries, immunization records (if necessary), visas and passports. Send them to yourself and keep them in your inbox for future reference. Travel with a companion or group of people.
3. There’s always safety in numbers.
If you do choose to take a solo trip, make sure you give contact information to someone stateside. If you’re traveling to a country that has a higher level of advisory, it may make sense to check in with the U.S. embassy so they can register you.
4. Leave your jewelry at home and lock up valuables.
The idea is, don’t give people a reason to want to rob you. Keep the fancy stuff at home, wear a fake wedding ring if need be. If you do choose to bring pricey things, lock them up in your hotel safe and don’t carry them around unless you need to.
5. Get travel insurance.
You never know when you’re going to need it and if you’re traveling far, or for a long time, it’s wise to have a plan in place. Both insurance for those pricey items you brought (ie, if your laptop or camera gets stolen) as well as health insurance.
6. Stay with your bag.
Make sure you wear a bag around the front of your body, rather than a backpack. Or if you have to have a backpack, wear it in the front. It’s easiest to get pick pocketed from behind.
7. Don’t get distracted.
A friend got her passport stolen while at dinner as two men were distracting her as well as the group she was with. Luckily, she was able to get back to the states, but it’s always good to be keenly aware of your surroundings.
8. Don’t draw attention to yourself.
There are few items that scream tourist so try to avoid them (ie a fanny pack). Carry a newspaper under your arm while walking around so you seem like you’re a local. And walk around confidently to project a sense of authority.
9. Contact your bank and credit card companies.
Make sure they know when you’ll be traveling abroad so you have access to your money but also so they can monitor any fishy transactions and flag them for you. And careful while using ATMs, both for duplicating chips as well as people standing too close behind you.
10. Food/water safety
It’s good to be aware of what you’re eating and drinking as well. There’s of course having to deal with “Montezuma’s Revenge” or “Delhi Belly” so be sure to purify your water (or drink only bottles with sealed lids) as well as avoid eating dairy in some countries. And as in the states, be cautious of putting your drink down and watch as your drink is being made so you can be sure to there’s nothing else going into it. The safest thing is to ask for a beer and open the bottle yourself!
All this being said, most places in the world are safe to travel and most people are eager to show their country or city off to tourists. Just be smart about traveling and you’re sure to have a fantastic trip.