Whether you’re vacationing in NYC, Amsterdam, or Rome, every city in the world requires taking proper precautions. While many precautions fall well within the realm of common sense, it’s too easy to throw caution to the wind while in a state of mesmerization when beholding the majesty of the Acropolis. Or when the laid-back devil-may-care atmosphere of a Caribbean island creates a false illusion of safety.
Travel is still very safe in many parts of the world provided one exercises the identical cautions they would at home. Whether a vacation is domestic or foreign matters not, the same diehard list of dos and don’t even think about doing still applies.
Do Not Flash Your Cash – Carrying around enormous wads of cash is almost the biggest no-no anyone could commit, but even worse is flashing the bulging bundle around or pulling a stack of currency out of your purse/wallet just to count out a few Denaro. American Express works around the world and every bank and many hotels cash traveler’s checks. To be on the safe side, make sure your hotel has an in-room safe before confirming your reservation. According to the rest of the world, all Americans are wealthy.
Do Not Look Like a Tourist – Never ever dress like a tourist, and for your higher powers sake, don’t wear a fanny pack. Hint: Most locals in tropical locations do not wear brightly flowered shirts and wide-brimmed Panama hats, and in Nashville, only tourists stick those silly cow-print cowboy hats on their heads. You get the idea. And if you happen to find yourself lost in a major city while on foot, do not yank out a map and appear confused. Be deliberate with your steps and act like you know where you’re going even when you don’t. If you can spot a cop, ask them for directions. If not, simply stop in at a shop. There is no shame in asking someone to point the way. A safe-looking someone.
Do Not Be Careless – Don’t carry a bag slung loosely over one shoulder. A thief can snatch it and run in a heartbeat. If you must carry one, keep it tight and let it hang more toward the front. Especially if you are visiting a country where bicycles are a prominent mode of transportation as in many Southeast Asia locations, always carry a bag on the opposite side of the road. Ripping one off of a shoulder and speeding away on a bike is fairly common. Carry wallets in front pants pockets instead of the rear. Thieves have been known to slice the bottom of a back pocket with a razor while the wearer is totally unaware.
Do Not Wander Around Alone – There is safety in numbers. Take a companion when shopping and/or sightseeing. If your plans are to travel solo, especially to a foreign country, consider taking a group tour instead. Many of them allow for lots of free time and you’ll make new friends along the way.
Do Not Lose Your Passport – If your travels call for having one, letting your passport leave your possession is a definite “do not do”. Passports, especially if issued by the U.S.A., bring a high price on the black market. Losing it or having it stolen will require visiting a U.S. Embassy, followed by an inordinately generous heaping of red tape. It’s a sure guarantee of missing your reserved flight home. Either memorize your passport number or write it down and keep it in a separate place. It also never hurts to make a copy of it and leave it with someone back home. One transcontinental phone call could save days of agony.
Do Remain Alert – Use your peripheral vision and remain aware of your surroundings at all time. If you are driving and notice the neighborhoods beginning to look like somewhere you shouldn’t be, turn around, pronto. This is not as big of a problem when walking since things are less apt to slip by without notice.
Do Secure Your Luggage – Even an amateur thief can pick a suitcase lock. For better protection put some type of band around your luggage, even a small steel chain, and secure it with a decent padlock. Chances are it’ll get passed by in favor of an easier target. Thieves value their time.
Do Lock Your Doors – When driving in an unfamiliar city, always keep the doors locked and the windows up. In most major cities car-jackings occur daily.
When flying, especially if out of an International airport like New York’s JFK or Atlanta or Orlando, always, always, always, allow yourself way more time than you think you’ll need. If you’ll be parking and leaving a car at the airport add even more time. Finding a parking spot, taking trams to the airport, riding trains, hoping elevators, wading through throngs of travelers, checking in, and getting through security can be a rigorous and time-consuming process.
Do Be Prepared – Always pack a small carry-on bag for planes in case you fly to San Francisco but your checked bags continue on to Honolulu. Keep a couple of changes of clothing and some trial sized toiletries of your favorite products. Hotels will have basic toiletries, just not your favorite body lotion.
Do Make a Plan – Have some type of basic plan for each day. It does not have to be a rigid itinerary as you may discover something you were unaware of and decide to do or see it instead. If you only have five days in Madrid you don’t want to waste time figuring out what to do. Do your homework before you get where you are going.
Do Protect Your Credit – Only take along the credit cards you know you will use. If you have one or two that seldom get swiped, leave them home. Write a list of the numbers, expiration dates, and security codes for the ones you do bring. Keep it in a separate location or leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member. Do not think it can’t happen to you. If you can, try and occasionally glance at your online account to make certain the card number was not snagged by that pretty innocent looking Polynesian bartender who just went on a shopping spree.
A little planning and common sense go a long way when it comes to travel. These are all tips to help make your journeys safe and memorable, exactly the way you prefer them to be.