Safety matters a lot when you travel for the holidays.
It matters, even more, when you find yourself in an unfamiliar destination. For previous generations, travel safety tips basically centered on how not to get mugged.
Today, a traveler’s biggest fear isn’t a criminal in a dark alleyway, but the loss of personal information and identity theft.
As more and more people store their personal information in the cloud or otherwise online, identity theft has become a major problem. In 2016, for example, 33 percent of all identity theft happened while people traveled.
A traveler will leave a digital footprint wherever they go. This makes them attractive targets for thieves and warrants attention to vulnerabilities.
At the same time, a holiday traveler must also remain aware of the standard threats that can appear anywhere.
There’s no need to fear, however, so long as you take a few precautions. These travel safety tips fall into place both back at home, and during your journey.
Put them into action, and you can rest assured of a leisurely holiday travel season free of worry and apprehension.
Take Care of Your Home
Before we jump into travel safety tips when you find yourself someplace unfamiliar, let’s pause for a moment to consider your home base. Many travelers neglect to consider the vulnerability of their homes.
One simple strategy to protect yourself is to avoid any social media posts that make your absence apparent.
You never know who you can trust, and all it takes for a thief to target your home is confirmation that it’s empty.
If you plan to travel for more than a week, consider the value of a house-sitter. A trusted person can not only maintain occupancy but also ensure that your mail doesn’t pile up.
Data Travel Safety Tips
The public wifi you hop on at that cute cafe in Paris can become a landmine in terms of identity theft.
Public networks make it simple for hackers to access personal info on your laptop.
Of course, free public internet access is both tempting and convenient. To avoid temptation, purchase a portable router so you can establish your own wifi hotspot, wherever you find yourself.
You’ll need to take into account the vulnerability of your phone, as well.
Modern smartphones store a vast trove of sensitive information, such as email access and even your password keychain.
In case your phone becomes lost or stolen, you’ll at least want the peace of mind of a password lock. If available, you should also set up tracking tools for your device, such as Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature.
When you need cash, make sure that you only make withdrawals in banks. Thieves will commonly establish “skimmers” on ATMs to collect your personal data.
If you need $40 for the bar, the amount taken from an ATM can quickly snowball as criminals utilize your account info to make withdrawals of their own.
Take Care of Your Stuff
In terms of identification, you need nothing more than your passport while abroad. As for your driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate, make sure they remain safely locked up at home.
When it comes to credit and debit cards, choose the most important, and leave the rest behind. The less you have available to steal, the less you need to worry about compromising your data or finances.
On the subject of important documents, make sure you keep copies of everything in case of theft. Scan your passport and credit cards, and keep the scans securely stored on Google Drive.
Also, write down every bit of important information, including account and identification numbers, that exist on the items you choose to carry. For an extra layer of safety, you can monitor your credit cards and credit report for any suspicious activity.
Your bank will likely have some fraud protection measures in place, but nothing can replace the peace of mind you’ll have from keeping an eye on things yourself.
When it comes to your daily habits, keep your documents either with you or safely secured in a hotel safe. If you need to carry your passport, make sure you keep it close to your body, along with your credit cards and some local currency.
Another tip: carry a wallet with a small amount of cash. If you do get mugged, you can simply hand this over to avoid a bigger loss.
Simple mindfulness can become a powerful protective measure for your money and person.
Bluntly speaking, thieves will always target ignorant travelers. If you obviously have no knowledge about the local language or area of your visit, you may as well walk around with a giant sign that says “rob me”.
If you plan to stay for more than a couple weeks in a certain area, make the effort to gain some familiarity with the language. This will not only make you less obvious of a mark but make it easier for you to find help if you do get robbed.
As for everyday travel safety tips, try your best to attach yourself to a group. You’ll appear less vulnerable, and also have extra sets of eyes for any threats. If you do find yourself in a dangerous situation, do not try and play the hero. The amount of money you lose from a mugging cannot possibly equate to the value of your life.
To decrease the likelihood of an unfortunate encounter, keep an eye on your drinks, and do not drink to the point that you cannot pay attention to your surroundings. Thieves will always target the vulnerable and intoxicated tourists that leave their drinks unattended broadcast a great deal of vulnerability.
Travel presents a wondrous opportunity to enlarge your worldview, along with your sense of culture and empathy.
International travel, also, is remarkably safe, and fear should never prevent you from the chase for new experiences.
Pay attention to these travel safety tips, mind your stuff, and carry only what you need, and you’ll find yourself more than protected against everyday threats.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want to worry about while on the road is your safety. It’s a big world out there, and if you practice a little self-awareness and caution, you’ll be well equipped to experience the best it has to offer.