Whether you are traveling within your home country or traveling abroad, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead for your own protection and for the protection of your loved ones. The wise teacher Dalai Lama once said: “Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.” Traveling the world to see the sites is on many peoples bucket lists, here are several tips to protect yourself when you're away from home.
Protect Yourself Before You Go
Before buying travel insurance offered by your airline, check to make sure you are not already protected. Your credit card may already have a travel insurance policy included. Contact your credit card company to find out. Your health insurance company may also cover international visits. Check with them.
Before traveling, contact your health insurance provider to clarify how claims will be handled should you need to see a doctor while on your trip. If traveling out of the country, your health insurance may still cover you but many times you will have to pay costs up front, keep the receipts, and then be reimbursed by the insurance company later.
If traveling internationally, be sure to also call your local health department in advance to find out if you need any vaccinations.
There is always a risk something could happen to you. If you have people relying on your income, be sure you have a life insurance plan in place before traveling. If you died while on a trip, there are costs to have you sent home, as well as funds needed to cover any medical expenses that may have occurred. Term life insurance is an affordable option that ensures your income will be replaced if you die pre-maturely.
Talk to Your Bank and CC Company
Many times if a credit card company or bank sees suspicious charges made, they will turn off the card to protect the account holder. While this is a nice safety measure, it can be extremely frustrating if you are in Dublin, for example, and just want a Guinness but the bartender tells you your card has been declined. It can be a long process to get access to those funds again. So, remember to contact them prior to leaving so you avoid these problems.
Another reason to contact the bank is to find out if there will be any fees or charges if you use your card while on your trip. Especially if you are overseas, ATM fees can get out of control if you are not using an ATM that is not in the same network as your bank.
Before you go, make copies of your itinerary and identifying documents (passport, license, etc.) and carry one copy on you, one copy in your luggage, and leave additional copies with a trusted person back at home. This way if you lose luggage, or someone steals from you, or a natural disaster hits, you still have access to your important information.
Research the Area
TripAdvisor is a great source for information when planning a vacation. World-travelers like yourself can get tips, tricks, and ideas of what to do, where to go, and where not to go from people who have been to your destination. If traveling to a relatively unknown place, research ahead of time for spots you should maybe avoid.
If traveling abroad, be sure to read ahead about their customs. For example, in many Eastern countries it is considered aggressive and rude if you make direct eye contact.
How to Protect Yourself While You're There
Be safe With Your Money
For obvious reasons, it's best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash while traveling. Using alternatives to cash like travelers checks, credit cards, and digital wallet apps such as Google Wallet or Apple's Passbook allow you to store digitally encrypted versions of airline and restaurant loyalty cards that can save you both time and reduce the risk of having your credit card stolen. If you must carry cash, you may want to also stash some money in discrete places like in your shoes, socks, or bra. It's also a good idea to take only what you need for spending money and leave the rest of your cash in a secure hotel safe. If you get mugged or pick-pocketed, you will still have some funds immediately available.
Travel in Groups
It’s pretty obvious that you are less likely to be attacked if you are in a group rather than alone. If you are a solo-traveler though, be sure to stay alert and avoid walking alone after dark.
Be Nice to Locals
If you are traveling to a place where English isn’t the native tongue, learn a few of their common phrases. Strike up conversations when you can. People will see you are making an effort and being respectful which, in turn, will make them more welcoming.
The best way to spend your hard-earned money is on experiences, not things. When traveling the world, you’ll make many memories and meet many people. We hope these tips will help you, and please add more of your own traveling tips in the comments.