We hate to be Debbie Downers, but we have to admit that travelling is becoming more scary in this day and age, especially following the recent atrocities in France, Lebanon and other parts of the world. In reality though, nowhere in this world is truly safe and we shouldn’t let our fear stop us from experiencing the joy of discovering new places. That said, it goes without saying that we should still exercise extreme caution when we leave our comfort zone, so here are a few pointers on how we can stay safe while travelling.
#1 Scan and Photocopy Important Documents
Refrain from bringing your original passport when you’re out and about exploring. Instead, bring a photocopy and leave your passport in your hotel room, preferably inside a safe. We know it’s tempting to just take a photo or pdf in this era of tech and smartphones, but in this case, make hard copies! Double up with soft copies of all your major travel documents such as passport, visas, booking confirmations and insurance (just in case – we’re not panicking at all).
#2 Register at your Embassy
We know you’ve got bigger fish to fry while on your holiday, but it wouldn’t hurt to register at your respective embassy upon arrival. This way, it’s easier for consular officials to get in touch with you and confirm your situation in case of emergencies, disasters and terror attacks. Plus point – embassies are usually located in beautiful and swish neighbourhoods, so you’ll be able to play tourist after all!
#3 Check Travel Advisories
You know how your mobile phone services sends you a million smses after you’ve landed in a new country? Tip: Read them. When they’re not notices about how much an sms, call or data costs while roaming (also useful), they might be important travel advisories. If you’re a well-prepared traveller, you’d probably want to check travel warnings leading up to your trip so you’re completely aware of the threats or safety concerns in the country you are visiting. You can also check online if there are any scheduled protests during your dates.
#4 Stay Connected
Remember a whole bunch of people quitting social media recently? Well, maybe don’t do that. Or if you do want to limit your social media presence, only follow reliable news sources (ahem, not CNN or Fox – we like Reuters or Associated Press). Aside from receiving real time updates in your location, you can also download travel safety apps such as SOS, which helps summon aid in case of violent threats and emergencies, or the Companion, which lets a friend walk with you via the app.
#5 Be Aware of your Surroundings
We can’t stress enough that you should be alert while travelling, and always be aware of suspicious people (or even sounds) around you. We know mum probably told you this when you were younger, but the advise still stands: remember to check for the nearest emergency exits in case of unforeseen danger, especially when you’re in crowded spaces, high alert areas, tourist attractions, museums, or any concert halls.
#6 Keep Emergency Numbers
No, not all countries use 911. Whenever you’re travelling to another location, remember to jot down and save the emergency hotlines, your embassy’s phone numbers, as well as contact numbers of friends who live in the area if you have some.
#7 Blend Well
Sure it’s nice to bring your Chanel 2.55 on holiday, but unless you’re an A-list celebrity or fashion blogger, try to blend in with the local crowd instead of standing out, so you don’t make yourself an easy target for thieves and scammers. Less is always more, we say!