How to Travel Safely

12:00:00 AM

This past winter vacation, I traveled abroad alone, giving my parents lots to be concerned about. Of course their biggest concern was for my safety, not just physically but also regarding my information. Before I left, I went through various precautionary measures before stepping on the plane to better ensure the safety of my information, my possessions, and myself. For this post, I'm working with SimpliSafe on ways to travel safely. They recently wrote their own post on the matter, but my experience is slightly different as I'm still a student and don't have to worry about an empty house, but there is plenty else to worry about.

Make copies of all your documents.

Make copies of your passport, scan both sides of your credit cards and any forms of ID (driver's license, student ID, etc), any insurance plans, and anything of a similar nature. You don't want to carry your actual passport everywhere when you're abroad, especially if you're going somewhere that's notorious for its pick-pocketers, but you may also need it as identification, so I would suggest carrying a copy of it with you. Similarly, making copies of everything else of importance in your wallet may make it easier to deal with a lost or stolen wallet.

I would also suggest printing out your hotel receipt or receipts for any other similar spending. You may need it for the address or to prove your reservation. Even if you don't end up needing it, it may be helpful to have on you/in your bag.

Speaking of money/your wallet...

Keep money in separate locations, not just in your wallet/in your bag.

If you can get one of those concealable pouches or whatever they're called, I would recommend using them, even if they're an added hassle. (If you don't want to use one or can't find one, you could also use a smaller wallet and put it in a hidden pocket in your jacket if you have one.) Even if you're super careful about pick-pocketers, you may be caught off guard while getting out your metro card or paying for something. If you don't want to lose all of your money, on top of your entire wallet, I suggest only keeping a small amount of cash in your main wallet.

Jot down important numbers on paper.

In case you lose your credit cards and/or your phone, you'll want to be able to contact anyone important. If you rely on your phone for phone numbers and don't know people's numbers, write them down and keep them in a safe place. Similarly, jot down the numbers for your credit card company and insurance company so you can call those numbers if anything occurs. You should also write down your credit card number and perhaps the expiration date in case you need that information.

Let people you know/trust/your family know you're traveling.

Let people you trust know that you're traveling, particularly your family. If you are leaving an empty house/apartment they may be able to check on it for you. Check in with these people every so often. My parents had me call or message them every day so they could keep track of me and make sure I was safe. If you've traveled on your own before or are already independent you probably won't need to check in every day, but I'd still let family know where you are/what you've been up to every few days or so.

Be careful when sharing photos.

If you can help not uploading photos publicly on social media, do that. It's different if you're like me and wasn't leaving an empty place so my family was okay with me sharing photos on Facebook publicly. However, if I was in a different situation, I would have been more careful. If you really can't help it, save photos for near the end of your trip (or once you're at your next location). Or upload it onto your computer. If anything, upload it into a photo album on Facebook but keep it private or share it only with family and close friends. It's hard not to post, especially when you may have some really amazing and pretty pictures, but safety should still come first. (If you're on a long trip, post when you're at your next destination so that you're not telling someone where you are right when you're there. You can make yourself an easy target.)

Bring extra locks.

Lock your luggage when you leave your hotel room. Lock up your expensive/valuable possessions. Put your passport inside your suitcase and just carry your copy, but make sure you lock up if you do that. Lock up extra cash/money you have. If you're using a backpack or rucksack for day-to-day use, perhaps consider locking the zipper so no one can open it and steal something without you being aware.

Don't be on/looking at your phone/camera/map all the time!

Don't make it too obvious that you're a tourist. I used my phone as a camera when I was in Barcelona, so it was sometimes hard to not have it out and in my hand, but not only will putting your phone away (and in a safe spot) make you a little less of a target, it'll also make you look around and truly take in the sights.

Similarly, don't just look at things through the lens of a camera. Experience things, make memories, and remember/realize that a photo won't capture everything. There are so many details that don't show up. Every time I took a photo, I tried to also take a moment to put my phone away and look at what I was photographing or to soak up the moment and to feel instead of just see.

And don't be afraid to get lost or stray away or just wander around. Of course, be smart about where you're walking, but you can find (local) treasures by going off the beaten path. You might have trouble finding your way back, so take that chance to pop into a store or cafe and ask how to get back to a main road (which you should know before wandering). And if you must, try to go into a cafe or store to look at your map rather than stopping and pulling it out in the middle of the street. More than just your safety, you can gain so much from putting down/away your phone, camera, and/or map. Take it in naturally with your five senses.

A sneaky little Barcelona pictures for you.

There are so many other ways to stay safe, but these were among the most important for me when I was getting ready to go to Barcelona. I hope you'll find these helpful, and I hope you have a safe, memorable, and possibly life-changing trip where ever you go next!

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