Although crime is prevalent all over the world, international travelers are more vulnerable abroad than at home, simply because they are not necessarily aware of all the risks that may affect their travels. They don’t know the cities they may visit as well as they do their home environment, so may simply be unaware of unsafe areas to visit. There are a couple of simple precautions you can take to ensure that your international travels are safe and fun as far as it is in your control to ensure that that is the case.
Do your research in order to have a good idea of what to expect from the country you are visiting. Cultural issues, legislation, impact that the country’s politics may have – all of these can impact on the enjoyment of your trip as well as your safety. Knowing what you are letting yourself in for helps you prepare.
While you are traveling you are subject to the laws of your host country. Therefore ensure that you familiarize yourself with customs and laws that may have an impact on you. An example is clothing in Arab countries: the wearing of shorts by females may be construed as disrespectful at best. It is sensible to dress to fit in with the locals.
Anything can happen… if you have medical insurance, check what your medical insurance covers. If it doesn’t cover medical evacuation and treatment internationally, it might be prudent to take out an additional medical insurance policy. Also ensure that your life insurance is up to date and correct. Take out a travel insurance policy – just in case!
Use common sense to ensure that you are not targeted by criminals. Don’t wear conspicuous jewelry or carry large amounts of money. Don’t accept packages from strangers… you never know what these contain. Drug traffickers have been known to smuggle drugs by passing packages on to unsuspecting travelers. Know where and how to identify and contact local law enforcement agencies.
Travel in groups, rather than alone if at all possible. There is certainly safety in numbers when you are traveling. Simply belonging to a group of people, who will be aware of where you are supposed to be, increases your safety. This is true for men and women. Although women are smaller and therefore more likely targets, a man on his own can also be targeted more easily than a group. In most of the big cities of the world you are probably also safer if you stick to the known tourist routes and attractions. When you go off to do some exploring of your own, it is again safer and better to do it with a guide or in the company of a group of people.