How To Stay Safe While Travelling
Feeling adventurous? As excited as you might be for your travels, and as free and easy you’ll feel once you’re away, it’s always better to be safe than sorry – which is why it’s crucial to consider travel safety when packing, planning and enjoying your trip.
Enter Pacsafe, a brand which specialises in anti-theft travel equipment, to help you keep your stuff secure. We love their stylish backpacks with features like anti-slash guard material, and RFID blocking pockets to prevent scanning scams on the move. As well as cable locks, combination locks and key-card locks designed for travelling safely, they even make an adjustable stainless steel, backpack-covering locking device designed to protect a variety of bags from being tampered with.
Check out our Pacsafe range here
But as well as keeping your belongings safe, what else can you do to ensure a panic-free, safe travelling experience? Here’s our top safety tips, plus ingenious travel hacks and some of the best travel apps to download now. And the livin’ is easy…
Do your research
First things first, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website (follow them on Twitter too - @fcotravel). It gives you an overview of the important things to consider according to destination, including terrorism, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health and money tips. The further in advance you look at this the better, as it gives you ample time to book the right vaccinations, or alter your route if there’s any particular locations you’d rather avoid.
You could also consider finding out where your nearest British embassy or consulate will be, in case you need to contact them in an emergency. If you’re going to be driving abroad, make sure your licence is current and valid and be aware of the driving laws in the country you’re visiting.
Next, read a range of reviews from different sites to get a real sense of what it will be like where you’re staying (and that means more than just a brief glance at TripAdvisor) - especially if on a budget or using apps like Airbnb or Couchsurfing. Invest in a good old-fashioned travel guide to help you plan your trip, and consider using online travel forums for authentic, up-to-date detail about your destination.
Make sure you know the exchange rate and what prices to expect for essentials to avoid being overcharged as soon as you arrive. It’s a good plan to book at least the first couple of nights of accommodation in an unfamiliar place, and to plan how to get there from the airport or station in advance.
It sounds obvious, but travel insurance is a must. As hyper-vigilant as you might be when travelling, there’s still always the risk of loss, damage or theft to consider, or (hopefully not) the risk of injury – particularly if you’re planning on trying out any extreme sports when backpacking.
There are hundreds of travel insurance policies available, so before you buy you need to know what type of policy you want, and what you want it to cover you for. Think about cover for airline or hotel failures and unexpected events, as well as essential cover.
The ‘adventure sports’ clause covers some of the obvious activities like, bungee jumping and scuba diving, but insurers also count less obvious activities as ‘adventurous’, including horse riding, mountain biking, canoeing and motorcycling.
Watch out for wording too - ‘Europe’ in travel insurance terms is different to what is technically Europe so you need to check that you’re covered for where your going. Make sure you’re covered for day trips over national boundaries too – for example, from Greece into Turkey, Gibraltar over to Morocco, or from the USA into Mexico.
We recommend using our Travel Insurance partner: World Nomads. It is available to people from over 140 countries and is designed adventurous travellers. They cover for overseas medical, baggage, evaluation and a range of adventure sports and activities. Defiantly worth checking them out. See link below:
Make a packing list, and don’t overpack
According to Monica Stott, founder of brilliant travel blog The Travel Hack (check it out for some serious travel inspo), it’s best to pack light. “It may not seem like the most obvious tip, but if you’ve packed light then everything about travelling is so much easier,” she says. “You’re more mobile, it’s easier to keep your belongings safe, you never need to rely on others to help with your luggage, you look like less of a tourist and therefore less of a target and you can nip around quickly and easily with little hassle or fuss.” Read our recommended packing list for a 3-6 month trip here .
Speak the language
As well as for ordering drinks and getting immersed in the culture of a country, speaking a few key phrases can be useful for finding your way around and for getting help quick in an emergency. If you’re spending lots of time in a Spanish-speaking country, try Meetup to practice informal conversational Spanish with native speakers, buy a phrasebook or download Duolingo to learn on the move.
Keep your valuables safe
If you can live without it - leave it at home. An obvious example is expensive jewellery. While UV 100 shades are a must, you might want to leave your favourite designer pair at home. Otherwise, use a hotel safe or invest in a lock while you’re on the go. A travel wallet is a wise idea for valuables you have to carry including passports, travel documents, cards and cash. It really pays to know exactly where things are and for them to be accessible, which is where wallets like the Pacsafe Anti-Theft RFID Blocking Waist Wallet come in super handy.
Have a back-up stash
You should always ensure you have access to funds to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Take more than one means of payment with you (cash, a debit card, a credit card)
The anti-theft secret bra stash or the money belt by Pacsafe are super handy when it comes to separating your cash.
Keep your phone charged if possible and note local emergency numbers
A power bank is a backpacking essential, and it’s a good idea to take a note of local emergency phone numbers in different countries and write them down as well as save them on your phone.
The new iPhone iOS 11 has an Emergency SOS feature enabling you to quickly call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts on your iPhone. Another option is the React personal safety app or the Red Panic Button, which works for both iPhone and Android.
Know where you are – and tell other people too
Tell family and friends where you’re going and leave them your contact details, insurance policy details and itinerary. Store them securely online.
CityMapsToGo is great for planning your travels in advance if you know you’ll have limited access to the internet.
You should also check with your service provider to make sure your phone works abroad. Consider leaving your phone’s IMEI number with a friend or family member, to help block or locate the phone if there’s a problem.
Be aware of your surroundings
It sounds simple, but make sure that you’re alert to what’s going on around you. In crowds, be even more mindful of your valuables and keep them out of sight. Remember that drinking or obvious fatigue will make your reactions slower and leave you more susceptible to being targeted.
Avoid stray dogs and cats
It’s always best to avoid stray dogs and cats, in case they have rabies. Key indicators include aggression, a staring expression, drooping lower jaw and excessive saliva or frothing at the mouth.
Pack a travel first aid kit
Travel blogger Nomadic Matt has a number of good recommendations for first aid kit essential to carry when travelling. In his guide to how to pack a professional travel first aid kit, he suggest plasters and bandages, gauze, surgical tape, small scissors, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, condoms, pain relief medication, loperamide tablets (such as immodium), an antibacterial creams.
Safe travels everyone!
By Maddi Howell