With summer in progress, many of us will be leaving our humble communities and seeking out new adventures. Much can be learned from traveling and horizons can be broadened, but unfortunately, if not taking the proper precautions, a trip to a new destination can turn sour quickly. Check out these tips to ensure that your new experience abroad can only be summarized in great memories and souvenirs:
Make copies of important documents.
Documents such as our passports, medical cards, travel itineraries, and even credit cards can call for disaster if stolen or lost. Give one copy to a friend back home and keep a personal copy, aside from the real documents, with you. Hard copies are best, but also email an electronic copy to yourself, just in case you will have access to the internet. Check into the U.S. embassy as soon as you arrive and stash some cash in a hidden place for emergencies.
Avoid doing drugs and negative attention.
While tempting, the justice systems in other countries are vastly different from the U.S. and can result in not being able to leave the country if arrested. Of course, have a great time while in your new location, but travel in groups, if possible, and never accept a drink from someone. Not only do you want to make it home safely, but remember that when abroad, you are representing our country. Let’s leave everyone thinking that we’re still the best, because ‘MERICA.
Leave the swag at home.
Although difficult to part with your favorite watch or sun-glasses, expensive items such as jewelry and cameras can make you a target for theft. Some travel enthusiasts even recommend carrying a decoy wallet in case you find yourself in any sticky situations. Be wary of pickpocketers in crowded areas and keep important documents and money close to you.
Be cautious of travel warnings.
Be sure to check out the State Department website to verify that there isn’t any travel warnings for your destination. If state officials are recommending against traveling to North Korea, then don’t travel to North Korea. Invite your friends and family to follow them on social media as well, to receive breaking news and alerts in places of travel.
When traveling alone, don’t let those around you know.
Lie a little. When asking directions, state something along the lines of, “Can you direct me to the museum? I have to meet a friend.” Find a hotel with 24-hour desk service and always lock your door at night. If your room provides a safe, then use it!
Check in with family and friends often.
Let family and friends know when the next time you plan on contacting them and from where. Provide them with copies of your itinerary before leaving. If you go missing, they will be able to reference your itinerary with the police.
Avoid street food.
While you will probably never have another chance to eat a chocolate covered grasshopper, keep in mind that whatever country you may be in, may not have the same public health regulations that the U.S. does. Drink only bottled water and eat from restaurants. Although it is normal for travelers to get sick abroad, be sure to have your vaccinations updated before leaving the country.
Follow your gut.
Finally, always stick with your intuition. It a situation or place doesn’t seem right, then quickly make your exit. There is a strong difference between leaving your comfort zone, and being in a dangerous situation.