You have probably heard horror stories time and time again about traveling outside your country. Everything from being robbed in a dark alley to gang violence to rotting in a moldy foreign prison. These are all horrible experiences that nobody would want to deal with, but truth be known, traveling outside your country is really not much more dangerous than traveling within your own. The important thing is that you go very well prepared and take proper precautions to ensure your safety. The following is a list of things you can do so you can travel safely in foreign countries.
1. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Proper preparation isn’t something you should do. It’s something you NEED to do in order to travel safely. Imagine jumping into a sport you have never played before and being expected to know all the rules and win the game. It’s the exact same thing as traveling outside the country. The rules are different. The number one way to stay safe is to properly prepare yourself.
A. Learn the language. Even a phrase or two will help you tons. Bringing along a book with common phrases in the spoken language will help you get by, but why not prepare months ahead and memorize common phrases and questions so that you can not only find your way around easier, but also blend in and not look like a tourist.
B. Study up on the area you will be visiting. Many foreign cities have dangerous areas you would not want to venture into. Ten minutes of research can save you a lot of trouble. Also study dangerous flora and fauna in the area as well as the cleanliness of the water. Those are very important things to research as sickness is common among travelers.
C. Have all your affairs in order. Keep your personal belongings (passport, IDs, information, cash) in a pouch and strap it directly onto your body under your clothes. Keep photocopies of all your information in your wallet/purse, as well as another copy in your pack. You will want to make sure you have travelers insurance and the address and phone number and address of the foreign affairs embassy in the area you are in.
D. Get your shots. Ask your local doctor what kind of immunizations you need before you leave on your trip. This is definitely a necessity if you want to travel safely.
2. Blend In and Don’t Lose Your Cool
Natives to the area you are traveling to are more likely to use and abuse you if they know you are a traveler. In countries with poor economies, gangs will jump on the chance to rob a rich North American. Salesmen will bump up their prices because you aren’t “from around here”. Playing the part and knowing your information is beyond important. Act like you know what you’re doing and people will believe you know what you’re doing. If by chance you are confronted by a dangerous situation, don’t lose your cool. Try to avoid any problem and if worst comes to worst, offer the problem causer some money to leave you alone.
3. Always Have a Backup Plan
Always make sure you have a plan B in case things don’t go as expected. Have a backup bag with some money in a locker somewhere. Or a international bank account with enough funds to get you home. If you are traveling alone, nobody is gonna have your back so make sure you are always one step ahead of the game. Just think of the worst possible scenario and cover yourself in case that happens.
4. Use Common Sense
Usually you can go with your gut on a lot of things. Don’t venture into dangerous situations. If your head tells you not to go somewhere, don’t go there. If your gut tells you to run away, run away. Just taste the vibes that circumstances feed you and be careful. That’s the best advice of all!
To see what you need to bring with you while backpacking, click here.
Happy trails! Travel safely!