17 Ways to Stay Safe During International Travel

Photo: Steven Lewis/Unsplash

You’ve been dreaming of it for months, but now the time is finally here! You are about to embark on an adventure abroad. All your plans have come together smoothly and you couldn’t be more excited. But before you go, there are some safety considerations that all travelers should know about. These tips will help keep you safe during your international travel experience. Here are 17 ways to stay safe during international travel:

1. Be aware of your surroundings.

This should be a no-brainer, but it is the first and most important tip for international travel. The last thing you want to do is get caught up enjoying yourself so much that you lose awareness of what’s going on around you.

Thieves and other bad guys often prey upon tourists who seem distracted or exhibit behaviors such as not paying attention to their surroundings, don’t know where they’re going, or even seeming lost. If you find yourself in a new and unfamiliar environment, look around and take note of your surroundings, especially if you are exploring an area on foot.

2. Know the local laws related to carrying weapons before leaving your country of origin.

Depending on where you’re going, certain knives or firearms may be legal or illegal to carry. Know what the country’s laws are and abide by them when you go there.

3. Study the history of the country you are visiting.

Have you ever heard of the guillotine? The electric chair? The gas chamber? Maybe not, but did you know that France, New York, and California have all used these for capital punishment at some point in time? Knowing about a country’s history can help to prevent dangerous encounters with law enforcement by knowing what types of punishments may be used. For example, if you are in Europe, don’t try to bribe your way out of a parking ticket, you might end up spending the night behind bars!

4. Be aware of cultural differences between your country and the one you are visiting.

You might not think it could make much difference, but culture can play a big role in your safety while traveling. Knowing the diverse cultures of the world and their traditions, holidays and religious beliefs is crucial to staying safe during travel. Why? Because you do not want to unknowingly come into contact with them and offend someone. For example, in parts of Eastern Europe, there has been a recent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes. Traveling to these areas without understanding the increased tensions could put you in harm’s way.

5. Consider travel insurance if your destination is outside your home country.

The last thing any traveler wants is to become sick or injured while away from home, but sometimes it can happen regardless of how careful you are. When it does, you want to have something that will get you home or help you get medical treatment quickly without spending all of your money. If you are traveling internationally, consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip so that you can get the healthcare services and medications needed while overseas without breaking the bank.

6. Understand cultural taboos before visiting some countries.

In some regions of the world, certain taboos surround what you must not do or talk about while visiting their locales. For example, you should never show the sole of your shoes to people in many parts of the Middle East, as that is considered to be extremely disrespectful.

7. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches while traveling internationally.

If you do choose to wear any type of jewelry, make sure it is simple and inconspicuous. Wearing flashy or expensive jewelry can attract unwanted attention from local thieves, which can put you in a dangerous situation faster than you realize. The same goes for wearing watches—the more expensive they are, the more attractive to them it will be!

8. Dress appropriately for travel and be aware of local customs.

We are not just talking about swimwear here, folks! You should try to dress modestly when visiting religious or traditional sites whenever you are traveling. Don’t show too much skin—you never know where you might be traveling so being aware of local customs can help to prevent unpleasant encounters with law enforcement. Some examples of cultural taboos include not touching anyone’s head or pointing your feet at someone else in parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

9. Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you while traveling internationally.

You should bring only the amount of money that you think you will need for your visit and keep it in a safe place. Additionally, when you withdraw cash from an ATM, try to choose one inside of a bank so that there is someone there to vouch for you if anything goes wrong.

10. Be aware of when to use local or international credit cards when traveling internationally.

Most people are aware of the fact that using a credit or debit card at an ATM will result in fees being charged. While some countries have lower ATM rates, others are very high so you should learn about which cards are best for international use before you go on your trip. Of course, it always makes sense to try to withdraw money from an ATM that is owned by the bank that your credit or debit card is linked to whenever possible.

11. Keep a travel journal and/or take pictures while traveling internationally.

Taking along a camera and snapping photos during your trip can be helpful in recalling what you did at certain times and locations, or it can simply help you to look back on all of the fun that you had on your adventure. A journal can be even more helpful for doing the same—and it also provides an outlet to record thoughts, feelings, and memories during your trip so that you don’t have to rely on your memory alone.

12. Take time off of work if necessary when international traveling with a pet.

Leaving town for a few days with your cat or dog can be a very stressful experience. Not only must you make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, but it is also crucial that you find someone to take care of them while you’re away. Make sure that all of the arrangements have been set in advance so that both you and your furry friend can enjoy your trip!

13. Have a clear understanding of the laws in the country you are traveling to.

It is extremely important that you know what is legal and what isn’t when you are traveling internationally so that you don’t accidentally violate any laws without even realizing it. There could be social taboos like the ones we mentioned above which you should be aware of, but there could also be legal regulations that protect the rights and safety of certain groups—make sure to brush up on your international laws before you go!

14. Don’t let yourself be tricked into buying something or giving money to someone else when traveling

This is one of the most important rules for anyone to follow, but it is especially important for those traveling internationally. There are many scams around the world that involve tourists being tricked into giving money to a scammer. For example, a man with a map in a foreign country might try to trick you into thinking that he works at a nearby tourist attraction and then demand payment from you for his “help.” It’s important to be aware of these types of scams so that you can avoid them.

15. Make a daily checklist for your travel plans when international traveling.

While it may seem like a little thing, keeping a checklist that you can refer back to after each day of your trip will make things much easier for you once it’s time to head home. Many people find that this type of list also helps them to feel more confident about the trips they take because they know that they haven’t forgotten anything (and even if they did forget something, it’s on the list!).
One great way to make a checklist is to use Venngage — an online checklist maker and free infographic maker that offers a wide range of checklist templates for everyone. Here are some examples from their website.




16. Keep an eye out for local celebrations and festivals while traveling internationally.

If you do a little research ahead of time, you can find out about events like parades, special touring opportunities, and more before your trip takes place. Participating in local celebrations and festivals is a great way to learn about local culture, and it can be a nice way to meet new people as well.

17. Keep your details private while traveling internationally.

Although you may have thought that you made all of the necessary arrangements before going on your trip, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong just before you leave. If this happens, make sure to contact the appropriate authorities and let them know that there has been a change of plans; it’s better for them to deal with any issues before they involve you (and potentially ruin your trip!)

International travel is one of the most rewarding things that you can do—but it’s also very different from traveling within your home country. Be sure to think about these tips before taking a trip abroad so that you are able to enjoy everything that there is to offer on your journey. Lastly, always keep in mind that safe travel leads to a memorable journey.

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