15 Most Important Travel Safety Tips

tips for safety travelling

When you start to travel to other countries, you will fall into one of these two categories: You will become extremely trusting of everyone; you will believe that all are your friends and are there to help you, or quite the opposite, a paranoid belief that all they want is to kidnap you and hurt you.

The truth is, neither. Not everyone wants to be your friend, but not everyone wants to hurt you. It will always be a mid-point, with a very pronounced inclination towards people’s kindness.

So it’s important to always keep in mind a couple of safety tips when traveling to Europe, Asia, Africa, or anywhere in the world.


Before you travel, get some information on the most typical scams

Each region has a scam that characterizes it. Most involve children who steal your wallet while you give them candy or take a picture with them; other more elaborate scams involve Chinese students who want to “practice English” and you end up paying for a set of tea; in another scam, they take you on a tour of the city in a tuk-tuk and from one moment to the next, you are paying for a tailor’s suit made to your specifications.

There is no country, no matter how developed, that does not have some kind of scam; it’s just a matter of being alert and not trusting people who are “excessively friendly” or who “want to practice English” in the middle of the street.

Have Travel Insurance

Accidents and illnesses happen anytime, anywhere. There’s nothing worse than having to interrupt your trip because you had to pay a hospital bill and you no longer have money to continue or, worse yet, leave the country.

To be honest, many of the activities I have done during my trip would not have been possible or I would not have felt safe doing them if I did not have medical insurance to back me up.

The clearest example is going up to Everest Base Camp. In case of an emergency, my insurance covered the evacuation by helicopter, which can cost more than $3,000 USD.

This will be item number 9 on the list, but without a doubt, it is the best security tip for traveling, especially if you travel to Europe, where medical expenses can be exorbitant. 

Scan all your documents

Passport, birth certificate, national medical expenses insurance and international medical expenses insurance, driver’s license, national identification, military service card (if you have one), proof of address, etc.

Scan them, save them in your email, send a copy of that email to your parents or best friend, and also save an additional copy on a USB to keep them at hand at all times.

scan all your documents


Don’t stop in the middle of nowhere (if traveling by car)

The main rule for anyone traveling by car is not to stop in the middle of nowhere. If you’re thinking of saving money on a hotel and taking a nap right on the seat, don’t pull over on the side of the road or, worse, drive into a field—no one will notice if something happens there. Choose parking lots, places near gas stations, or police checkpoints. Also, look where the truckers hang out. These guys have a lot of experience traveling, and therefore they know exactly not only the places where the food is excellent but also where it is really safe.

Keep your car locked

Always keep your car locked, even if you’re away for a short time, and keep valuables in the trunk or with you. If you like to throw backpacks, cameras, or laptops around the cabin, then don’t be surprised if your car is rudely opened, the glass is broken, and your belongings are stolen by local hooligans.

Look around

Whether the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Machu Pichu, Angkor Wat, or any other monument is before your eyes, if there is a crowd watching the same thing, don’t forget to look around from time to time.

Many people take advantage of these small moments of tourist perplexity to make their own, so don’t let that happen to you. You don’t need to distrust everyone around you, just a little look over your shoulder will suffice.

A security study revealed that a thief will avoid attacking people who are more alert to their environment, so as your first piece of security advice when traveling abroad is to develop the habit of looking at your surroundings.

Don’t act or look like a victim

Continuing this same study, people select their victims because of certain traits, including why they walk or act like victims.

I am a certified Krav Maga trainer, and in every course I give, I always repeat the same thing, when you walk on the street, do not act like a victim, even though you are dying of fear.

If you appear to be a person who is at least going to resist an attack, chances are they won’t attack you. If I’m a thief, why choose someone who’s going to fight if I can choose someone easier to assault?

Don’t walk at night

Nighttime is not the best time to walk around the city, and urban suburbs and poor neighborhoods in most countries are best avoided during the daytime as well

Close your bag or backpack all the time.

When you’re in a foreign country, everything you see around you is new and amazing, and more than once you’ll want to get the camera out of your bag or backpack as fast as you can to take a picture, but chances are at that time you’ll forget to close the bag again.

Most of the lost things of travelers are because they are not careful enough to reseal their bags, which does not mean that they have been stolen; just walking is more than enough for some of your things to jump into the street without you noticing.

Make a habit of constantly checking that your bag and backpack are closed, and you’ll see that you won’t lose anything again. I’ve seen this behavior, especially in Europe, so as a safety tip for traveling to Europe: Close your backpack.


Money and documents

Set Your Money Apart

I have a specialized article on how to save money when I travel, and this is a travel safety tip you should not forget: never put all your eggs in one basket.

If any eventuality happens, like a robbery, you can be sure that you haven’t lost anything and that you can still continue traveling.

When I was living in Madrid, they stole my wallet, and although I brought the whole month’s rent, the most annoying thing was having to replace the cards or find a way to withdraw money. If you follow my advice on how to save money, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t put your wallet in the back

Closing the bag is important, but what about men? The recommendation is simple, load the wallet in the front pockets of the pants so you know where you have it at all times.

Try to generate this habit since you’re at home, so it’ll be easier when you’re traveling. Over time, you’ll realize that it’s not only safer but also more practical.

Don’t change money with locals

It is better to overpay a little in official currency exchanges than to get counterfeits.


Go for a bite to eat where there are many locals

A sore point in many Asian and African countries is the quality of food: the complete lack of sanitary control, poverty and unwillingness of sellers to throw away stale food—dangers await the traveler at every step. Moreover, you’re a one-time customer, and you’re unlikely to return for more. So go for a bite to eat where there are many locals—a sure sign of a good reputation of the place.

Use bottled water

Water is a separate story. It is in it that many infections are contained and through it parasites get to the vegetables. You should buy only bottled water (and before you drink it—check if it is well screwed up, because it could have been simply poured into an old bottle—this is what they often do in India. It’s best to avoid iced drinks too—it’s likely that the ice was made from tap water. Even brushing your teeth is best done with bottled water.

Never eat where there is no access to a toilet or running water

Apart from the understandable inconveniences, you can run into much bigger problems—dishes in such a place are most likely not washed, but wiped, or rinsed in a bucket—in the same water all day long. And in Asia and Africa, it would not be superfluous to wash your hands before eating.

traditional polish dishes at Mleczarnia Jerozolimska in Warsaw
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