Whether you’re traveling within the United States or abroad, you should take additional precautions to ensure your safety. Traveling distractions, like seeing sights, eating tasty food, and visiting new places, can make you more likely to get hurt.

However, this is not necessary.

These travel safety tips can help you keep your trip as safe as possible and enjoy it to the fullest.

The art of safe travel

Our safety recommendations include both quick-response actions and those that require a little more planning.

1. Convert critical documents to electronic format.

Your wallet or purse contains vital documents that crooks can use to their advantage. Leave needless stuff at home (such as your Social Security card) and create duplicates of everything else you’d need in an emergency, such as prescriptions, a backup credit card (so you can make a digital purchase in a panic), and your passport.

Take a photograph and store it in a secure online folder. In this manner, if something is stolen, you can quickly mitigate the damage caused by crooks. You may quickly cancel your debit and credit cards and acquire a new identification card from the embassy by calling the bank. As a bonus, you can store these documents in a safe digital vault like 1Password or LastPass.

2. Reduce your cash carrying to a bare minimum.

While it’s a good idea to keep some cash on hand when traveling, the majority of merchants, including those located abroad, accept credit cards. The absence of cash reduces the value of your wallet to a thief, and you can reject unauthorized purchases on a credit card. Make sure that you use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees when you travel.

3. Distinguish yourself from the tourist stereotype

The more authentically you dress and behave as a local, the less likely you are to be targeted as a tourist by crooks. By matching your style to that of the natives, strolling confidently, and concealing your maps, you can blend in. While strolling, simply glance at your phone for directions.

Additionally, before departing the hotel, become acquainted with the city and your itinerary. If you do find yourself needing to look up directions for an extended period of time, try entering a store or cafe rather than remaining outside.

4. Share your itinerary with a trusted friend.

Share your schedule with someone you trust back home, whether you’re traveling alone or with companions. Once a day, check in to inform them that you have arrived at your next location or have returned to your accommodation. These minor precautions improve your trip safety.

Additionally, it’s prudent to develop and discuss a safe word so that family and friends will know if you’re in trouble, even if the chat appears normal to someone listening. People who know you well might be able to see where you are right now by using your smartphone.

5. Conduct a search for destination-specific travel advisories.

The US Department of State notes that “conditions in a country can change rapidly at any time.” Its website maintains an up-to-date listing of travel advisories for countries worldwide. These travel advisories don’t always mean that you should stay away from traveling, but they do tell you about possible travel conditions or places to stay away from.

Before making travel arrangements and again prior to departure, consult the State Department website. Wherever it was safe when you planned your trip, it could have deteriorated since then.

6. Register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at http://www.smarttravelerenrollment.com/.

The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, is a free service that enables people traveling or residing abroad to obtain the most up-to-date security updates. In addition, the information you give helps the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate get in touch with you in case of an emergency.

7. Inform credit card companies of your travel plans.

Because you may be visiting cities where your spending habits are different, inform your bank of your travel dates and destinations. Numerous banks enable you to alert them directly using your online banking account.

This reduces the chance that the bank will close your account because of what appears to be fraudulent activity, leaving you without money.

Consider bringing a backup credit card as well.

8. Use caution when connecting to public wireless internet.

Wi-Fi might provide hackers with access to your devices and critical data. Using a VPN service is one of the most secure methods we are aware of for staying safe in an airport, while exploring your trip, or while staying at your hotel. VPN services set up a secure connection to protect your personal information while you use the internet or apps that connect to the internet over an unprotected connection.

In June 2020, Security.org, a security product review site, conducted a study and discovered that just 31% of US internet users use a VPN service to access public Wi-Fi. This means that over 70% of public Wi-Fi users are vulnerable to hacking.

9. Get travel insurance.

Consider getting travel insurance in advance of your trip to ensure both your physical and financial protection. Travelers don’t have to pay for things like emergency medical treatment, trip delays, cancellations, or interruptions, lost luggage, or evacuations. This safety net helps them avoid paying for these things out of their own pockets.

The majority of plans compensate visitors for unused lodging, transit, or activities that were nonrefundable but had to be canceled for a covered reason. Similarly, if an airline or rail company loses your luggage, you will almost certainly be reimbursed under your policy’s baggage protection. As a bonus, if you have emergency medical coverage, you won’t be surprised by a big medical bill when you travel outside of the country.

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