So you’ve got your Ultimatesafe, your laptop protection, your RFID blocking wallet, and your anti-theft bag protector. Your luggage is all set, your passport is safely stowed, and your data is secure. Now what about you? Whether you’re traveling solo or as part of a tour group, traveling increases your vulnerability. It’s what we love, what pushes us out of our comfort zone, but it can also cause problems and get us in situations that have a little more risk involved than we’d originally bargained for. It’s part of the adventure, but to make sure it stays in the adventure zone and doesn’t snowball quickly into the disaster zone, make sure you’ve taken the following steps to ensure your safety.
Whether you opt for a basic travel insurance plan or an emergency evacuation plan that covers kidnapping or war-related injuries, insurance is the most obvious and necessary step in helping to keep yourself safe and taken care of. Check out this post for more reasons to consider travel insurance and tips on choosing a plan.
Register with The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Many view this as an unnecessary step, but I choose to do it anyway. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. It allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.
Itineraries change and travel plans are never set in stone. Still, you should always leave a loose itinerary with friends and family members. Make sure you provide the contact information for any hotels or hostels you plan on staying in.
Carry a Phone
Whether you choose to use your own phone from home and pay the extra service fees or go with a prepaid local phone, make sure you always have some way to access help should you need it. I recommend picking up a calling card in addition to a phone. If you can’t get service, a calling card will make life easier if there is a pay phone or landline within easy reach.
Know Local Emergency Numbers
Write them down in your journal, store them in your phone, tattoo them to your hand. Make sure you have all necessary emergency numbers. Police, firefighter, doctors, ambulance services, search and rescue. Know them all.
For the Ladies
Sadly we face the same risks abroad that we face at home. Traveling simply exacerbates these types of situations. Not to say you shouldn’t travel alone. I’ve had many enjoyable solo trips in areas where travel guides discouraged women from venturing into alone. If it makes you feel comfortable, I know plenty of women who carry keychain pepper spray containers. I’ve never needed these, but I do certainly take fewer risks while traveling solo. I stay in nicer hotels, stick to popular areas at night, and only take trips with established guiding services. That said, these things can happen anywhere at any time. Minimize the alcohol consumption and keep your wits about you. In some areas, you can find cab services for women. As far as unwanted touching goes, I used to just pretend nothing happened when a man “accidentally” groped me in public places. Now I cause a scene.