10 years ago I traveled to Mexico with my sister to celebrate her birthday and ever since then, I have had what people call the travel bug. I am always saving and searching for my next destination. It doesn’t matter if the trip is a month out or a year, as long as I have a new place to look forward to, I am happy. During my travels, I have learned a lot about what it takes to stay safe… you see I love to travel to places I’ve never been, but my mother rather wishes I would choose destinations within the United States. Since I prefer foreign countries like Peru, Mexico, or Belize, I have had to figure out what invites trouble and what keeps me safe while I’m away from home. So if you are searching ticket prices but are a bit apprehensive about your foreign destination, check out these tips for staying safe while traveling in a foreign country.
1. Leave the jewelry at home
There is no reason to take your diamond earrings or even your expensive wedding ring. Just leave it at home. You don’t need a ring on your finger to remind yourself you’re married, and if you don’t have it, you can’t lose it or have it stolen.
2. Don’t travel at night
It’s pretty simple, make sure you are back to your accommodations by nighttime. Traveling around at night draws attention because fewer people are out, and you are just more likely to run into a bad crowd, then you are at 1 in the afternoon.
3. Know your sunsets
This goes hand in hand with traveling at night, but it’s important and has caught me off guard a time or two. Know when the sun sets in the area you are traveling through. I was in a village in Peru and went for dinner, and I swear I have never seen the sunset so early or fast… it went from daytime to pitch black in 45 minutes and I had to find my way back in the dark. So know your sunsets.
4. Have a buddy
I hate to say it, but traveling alone invites trouble… I wish it wasn’t true but it is. So travel with someone as much as you can. Even if you are traveling solo, try to meet people who are also visiting and hang out with them. A great place for this is in hostels where a lot of travelers get together and do day trips as a group.
5. Avoid cities
It may seem like common knowledge, but the higher the population, the higher the crime rate. You are simply more likely to run into trouble in a city than a small village, so factor that in during your travel planning stage.
6. Ask a trusted local
This is something I do everywhere I go. I either ask a tour guide or the host of wherever I am staying about the area I am in and what I should avoid. These people live off of tourism and want to encourage people to visit, so they will tell you everything you need to know. I ask what areas are safe, what places I should avoid, if it is dangerous at night… they won’t be offended so just ask.
7. Cover labels
If you are walking around the poor section of a city, covered head to toe in Patagonia, you are making yourself a target. Anyone who sees you is going to associate you with money. Cover any expensive labels, or better yet, just wear less expensive clothes.
8. Do your research
I say this with apprehension because I think researching a place breeds negative expectations, but it should still be done. Just remember that bad news is going to be reported way more than good news, so don’t take a country off your list just because it had trouble 10 years ago.
9. Avoid intoxication
Don’t get drunk in public… drunk people are easy targets. Of course, you should enjoy yourself on vacation, but make sure you are in control and aware of your surroundings. Staying safe while traveling in a foreign country doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun!
10. Limit information
Don’t tell every stranger you meet your exact itinerary. Also, avoid telling people where you are staying, going, or what sites you are hoping to see. The less you broadcast your travel plans, the less likely someone will use that knowledge against you.
Even though this is a list of how to stay safe, I don’t want to discourage someone from traveling. I have been to several countries that people said weren’t safe and have been blown away by the kindness of the people who live there. Remember that there are bad people everywhere, but there are also kind people everywhere as well. Just follow these tips for staying safe while traveling in a foreign country and you should be just fine.