Safety When Traveling
Travel is undoubtedly one of the best things you treat yourself to. The sights you will see & the experiences you will have out on the road will enrich your life, soothe your heart and nourish your soul. Furthermore, medical science studies are increasingly confirming that travel is also actually beneficial to your physical health in all kinds of ways!
But as always in life, there is a flip side. For every Ying and Yang. Things can and do sometimes go wrong and in some ways travel sometimes can even make you more vulnerable to financial loss or physical harm than you are back at home. That said, by exercising a few simple precautions, you can do quite a lot to protect yourself out of the road.
So here is our rundown on How to best look after your self, your health, and your stuff when traveling!
Many parts of the world today are still impacted by dangerous and deadly diseases which you should take action to protect yourself from. Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, Rabies, Tetanus and many more are still very real thing out in Asia, South America and Africa. You should check with your Doctor or travel clinic before you leave home to see if you need travel vaccination. Many of these will be available either free or for a low cost in your native country and may well save your life.
I know that some voices out on the alt-left don’t believe in vaccinations. I also know that some voices on the alt-right believe that the earth is flat.
Once you’ve gotten your jabs done, the next thing you can do to look after your health is to take some hygiene precautions. Firstly, check from a reliable source whether the local tap water is safe for consumption. If it is then, great, drink up and remember to stay hydrated! If not be very careful, don’t even brush your teeth with it and keep your mouth closed whilst showering (so no singing in the shower). Buy bottled water or use purification pills.
Also be very mindful of what you eat. Street food is usually fine but please do take a good look at the stall to ensure it and the cook looks clean and don’t eat anything that has been sat out for a while. Meat is usually the cause of traveler food poisoning so why not do the ethical thing and consider going vegetarian?
Finally, remember to wash yourself and your clothes thoroughly and regularly as bacteria can breed in them causing some nasty infections.
I have a question for you. Would you ride a motorbike around London with no helmet and only flip-flops on your feet? No. Would you ride a scooter around Chicago whilst blind drunk? Definitely not. Then don’t engage in these utterly reckless and stupid behaviors when in India, Cambodia or Laos OK?
You would be amazed by how many educated, sensible people seem to abandon all common sense whilst traveling and indulge in reckless, stupid acts that put themselves and others at unnecessary risk of harm.
Data Protection (VPN)
OK so now that we’ve worked out how to protect your physical self we now need to take a look after your online self, which let’s face it, is now kind of your real self…
These days, Data is a very valuable commodity and unscrupulous cyber-criminals from around the world are always devising new ways to collect and utilize it. Often, you will have no idea that your ID or data has been stolen but occasionally you will find out the hard way when your bank account is quickly emptied.
The best way to do this is to always use a VPN on your phone or laptop. If you use a public device, then think carefully about what sites you access (ie, do you need to do your online banking today?), make sure that passwords or not been saved and then delete the history and cookies afterward.
Despite a pretty clear directive issued in the 10 Commandments, taking other men’s oxen remains a major global concern to this day and theft remains the most common crime in the world. When traveling, you can become a particularly appealing target to thieves especially in places like South America and certain parts of Africa (sorry to name and shame but..). Sometimes, theft is hard to avoid but there are certain precautions you can take. These include;
- Don’t carry more stuff than you need.
- Don’t show flashy devices in public.
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry.
- Wear a money belt and keep most of your cash in it. Leave a nominal “robbers tax” in your wallet.
- Fasten you backpack with padlocks.
- Use a sturdy, strong padlock on the safe in your hostel.
- Avoid darkened, lonely streets.
Carrying paper money is unavoidable as its kind of useful especially in many parts of the developing world where ApplePay and even Credit Cards are still a futuristic fantasy and cash remains King. As above, take care to hide the cash you do carry with you.
To minimize carried cash, I advice obtaining a specialist travel bank card which you can use, with minimum fees, to make intermittent ATM withdrawals. Usually, I try to work out when the next opportunity to use an ATM will be and take just enough cash to last me until then (with a small contingency built in). Revolut and Monzo are the ones I have used – if you find a better one then please let me know.
If you heed all of the advice in this post then hopefully you should have no problems. However, sometimes the worst does happen for reasons beyond your or anybody’s control. Therefore, I always recommend that you buy travel insurance before you leave home. As a minimum, you want to cover your devices and get medical and repatriation cover. I have never had to claim on my Insurance but I know a few people who have and it saved them $1000’s. I also know a few people who didn’t obtain it, got robbed and simply had to write off an iPhone…