Travel Safety Tips for the Safe Traveller & Trip
UPDATED: 30 MAY 2021
The world is amazing and full of intriguing places, people and cultures. Awesome adventures await you just round the corner. Undoubtedly, you will enjoy it the most if you as a traveller know you have planned for a safe and ‘secure’ trip! Therefore, use our travel safety tips when planning your trip!
How can you become as safe a traveller as possible – and how can you take precautions to get a relatively trouble-free trip without too many unpleasant surprises?
There are a number of travel safety tips you can use to get a smooth trip and minimise the risk of something unforeseen and unwanted happening. Preferably, you should not have to spend too much time and too many resources on the practical stuff and problem solving while travelling. Once off, you will want to focus on the enjoyable experiences!
Following some basic travel safety tips, you will have the best odds of getting a safe trip and at the same time being able to dedicate your time to the funny things.
There are various types of risk you could/should take into account to get the smoothest and safest trip. Some risk factors relate to transport, some to health issues, some to crime and some to financial and practical matters.
Other travel risks entirely depend on your degree of preparation. Through thorough and appropriate planning it is possible to reduce the vast majority of risks considerably, such that you can become a safe traveller and enjoy a ‘secure’ trip!
Making a trip as safe and trouble-free as possible involves both a good deal of planning before travelling and a certain degree of sensible behaviour throughout your trip!
Do your research beforehand. Before going you should get as informed as you can about the specific travel risks in the countries you travel to. Learn about the country, the norms, the culture, recent problems and the political situation. Especially, if you travel in parts of the world with increased and substantial risks compared to the risk level in your home country.
Read and follow governmental advice on how to act in the country and get informed about specific risks at your destination.
Additionally, read a couple of online local newspapers or other local news to know about the political situation and possible demonstrations or strikes in the country. In particular, this applies to countries in less stable parts of the world. Political unrest can complicate your ground transport and be a threat to your itinerary and safe trip, as well as be a hindrance to the visits you have planned. You may anticipate workarounds if the situation is unstable and the public sector not reliable.
You can additionally check the corruption indices of the countries. These will give you an indication of whether the public sector is reliable and well-run and whether the countries are able to control the corruption level or not.
Natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, typhoons or earthquakes may also pose an increased risk in some parts of the world. Have this in mind when you are planning a trip to such higher-risk destinations. Some seasons may therefore also be preferable to others.
Register with your Embassy. They will then contact you in case of alerts (natural disasters or other incidents that might affect your trip).
Make a contingency plan. Arrange a meeting place and agree on how to contact each other/family/friends in case of emergency situations. Give your family and friends a description of your itinerary, flight numbers and flight times, planned train times, bus information, hotel list, as well as details on everything else booked.
To have a safe trip you can make copies of all important travel information (hotel addresses, flight numbers etc.). They can be kept in different places in your luggage, on yourself or distributed among your fellow travellers – just in case you are robbed and your important papers and electronic devices all of a sudden are gone. Likewise, make electronic copies of all important travel documents and store them online, or email them, such that you will be able to access them if needed. This also applies to copies of passports. It will be a lot easier to get an emergency passport if you can show a copy of your old passport.
If travelling with younger children, prepare a piece of paper with contact information to keep inside their pockets, in a belt pouch or save it on their phones. Just a precaution – it will make it so much easier for them to get back to you if they get lost (and maybe event don’t speak the language of the country).
For safety reasons you can prepare for photos to be uploaded to Dropbox, One Drive or other cloud storage, such that not all your visual memories will be lost in case of theft or robbery.
In order not to lose too much time at your destination looking for accommodation, you can make reservations beforehand. Often you can cancel reservations with maybe just one day’s notice if you change travel plans or find something better. In this way you will also avoid ending up in a situation where you will have to go far from your initially planned route in case all hotels are already fully booked there!
Having already planned your entire itinerary and made the necessary bookings from home gives reassurance and helps ensure that your trip becomes as trouble-free as possible.
Another issue is whether you are willing to risk your luggage disappearing during your flight – or being delayed. There is a minor risk that your checked baggage will not arrive at the same time as you at your destination. You will then get a lot of trouble retrieving your suitcase or having it brought to your hotel when it eventually arrives on a later flight.
Even worse if you have a road trip ahead of you with new destinations every day. In that case it will be nearly impossible to get hold of your luggage again.
The solution may be to take only carry-on luggage! It is of course a matter of how to travel light and limit yourself to a hand luggage sized trolley or rucksack. Evidently, it may require some rethinking of what to pack! Nevertheless, it will give you the security that your luggage is with you all the time!
You may want to consider taking some of the following items with you to take measures to reduce risks and anticipate different kinds of incidents on your trip – and have as safe a trip as possible!
- Travel Security Belt – Hidden Money Belt, Anti Theft Travel Belt
- Undercover Travel Money Belt (maybe with RFID antitheft protection)
- Padlock for your Luggage
(when you need to leave your luggage unattended in hostels/hotels …)
- Portable travel door lock
- Emergency Telephone Numbers / Contact Information
- Paper Copies of all Bookings, Travel Information etc.
(in case you cannot use your electronical devices – discharged, bad connection, stolen …)
- First Aid Kit for Travel
- Portable Water Purifier
- LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
- Compression Socks for the Flight
- Rain Ponchos
- SUNCUBE Outdoor Wide Brim Sun Hat with Neck Cover Flap | Men, Women Summer Sun Protection Hat UPF 50+
- Spare Pair of Glasses
(in case your normal glasses are broken)
- Universal Adapter
(appropriate for the sockets at your destination – applicable in all countries)
- Small Flashlight
(in case electricity is out or non-existing)
- Extension Cord and Power Strip
(there may only be one socket in your hotel room – to ensure the use of all your devices)
- Portable Charger Power Bank
- Travel Neck Pillow
(so that you can sleep nearly anywhere in an emergency)
- Microfiber Lightweight Towel
(weighs less than 100 g and dries in 10 minutes – for the unexpected swim)
Check your insurance to see how you are covered in case of robbery, illness, airline delay and other incidents. Make sure you have or get a travel insurance, a trip cancellation insurance, as well as a rental car insurance in case you are going to rent a car.
You can read about the World Nomads travel insurance here.
Click on the button to get a quote – and buy your travel insurance*:
If you are going to remoter or unusual locations, notify your bank that they can expect withdrawals from your account from that specific location. In that way you don’t risk that the bank unexpectedly closes your accounts due to ‘suspicious’ activity.
Get informed about the easiest / cheapest way to exchange currency and make withdrawals at your destination / during travelling. Different charges may apply depending on method / place. To some destinations it is better to take a certain number of banknotes with you to be as safe as possible. At some locations ATM’s maybe scarce. Check it before going!
To anticipate any financial problems and have a safe trip, consider taking a reserve of dollars or euros for locations with less stable economies. It may save you in an emergency.
Visa: Check if you need to apply for a visa for the countries you are going to. It is easy to check it. Fill in the following form:
To have a safe trip it is wise to check recommended travel vaccinations for your destination. Dependent on the length and nature of your stay there can be different recommendations. Check also the COVID-19 status at your destination.
In general you should ensure that you have the usual routine vaccines like the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, polio vaccine, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and most likely a few others depending on the country you live in.
In many parts of the world vaccinations against for instance Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Cholera etc. are highly recommended to travellers. Under all circumstances check a website like wwwnc.cdc.gov for updated travel vaccine recommendations before travelling. The recommendations take the length of your stay, country of origin as well as other factors into account.
Some vaccinations require multiple applications with several months in between, so check in due time when you will need to get the first shot.
Although the vaccinations can be a bit expensive to get – especially if you need several for a trip – they are a good long-term investment. The advantage is that the effect of several of these vaccinations is long, in some cases maybe even lifelong. It is therefore in these cases a one-time investment and you will have a maybe lifelong protection proving useful for your future trips!
Some vaccinations may specifically be country entry requirements. For instance a Yellow Fever vaccination may be mandatory to enter Bolivia. Check the updated rules that apply before you travel.
You may be exposed to malaria when travelling in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. No vaccine exists against malaria.
However, do consider the malaria risk (as well as dengue, Zika and other viruses) you are exposed to in areas with mosquitoes. Even if you cannot get any travel vaccination against malaria (and other mosquito transmitted viruses), you can still take basic precautions. You can either take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, or alternatively bring malaria medicine in the odd event of getting malaria while travelling.
The common advice, when you travel in malaria (and dengue, Zika …) risk areas, is to avoid being out around sunrise and sunset when the mosquitoes are most active. You could also cover most of your body wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. Moreover, you should consider using mosquito repellant on a daily basis, and of a kind that is effective against malaria mosquitoes. Have it readily available in you daypack so that you can easily find it whenever necessary.
If your travel destination is above an altitude of 1,500 m (4,921 ft) – which for instance is the case in the high Andes Mountains in South America – there is no malaria risk.
Always check a website like wwwnc.cdc.gov for current recommendations and requirements – since they frequently change!
Falling ill is probably not really what you anticipate when planning a trip. However, in the (unlikely) event of it happening, you can take precautions by preparing your own tiny ‘travel pharmacy’ containing the most necessary medicaments. It could contain a first aid kit with plasters (Band-Aids), disinfectant, crepe bandage, antiseptic wipes, thermometer, antihistamine, aspirins, medicaments against stomach flu and other relevant pills.
In this way you will be able to handle the majority of cases of illness on your own without any need to contact a local doctor or find the nearest pharmacy (which might not be that near depending on which part of the world you find yourself in).
If you are going by boat, do also consider including travel sickness tablets, especially if you sometimes suffer from motion sickness. In that way you can avoid ruining a whole day with seasickness. If you tend to get motion sickness during flights, this might also be a remedy to help overcome that.
In many countries around the world it is not advisable to drink tap water. It has not got the health standard you are used to, and it is a likely source of bacteria. There are of course means to avoid that.
Bottled water bought in shops and restaurants is an easy solution. However, there can be cases where bottled water is not available.
In these cases a solution can be to bring your own water purification tablets to add to the water for a safe trip! Just remember that they may take 15-30 minutes to dissolve and give the desired effect. The taste is not the nicest – but improves if you mix it with lemonade! The tablets can also be added to drinks in restaurants and bars if you are in doubt whether they contain tap water or not.
Another option is to buy a portable water purifier that kills all bacteria in the water.
When it comes to your drinks in public places like bars, you should also stay alert for another reason. Never leave your drink and come back for it later. You cannot know if anyone has added some kinds of drugs to it.
As with drinking water, be careful what you eat. Raw food may contain bacteria and viruses that your immune system does not protect you against and therefore should be avoided.
It is of course a matter of finding the right level of food safety – balancing not ending up with food poisoning and allowing yourself to try awesome local food! The well-known advice still applies: peel raw fruits, eat where the food is fresh / recently cooked, try to eat mainly cooked dishes in restaurants and don’t drink tap water. Better safe than sorry!
In a lot of countries, and especially in countries around Equator and at high altitude, the sun may be stronger than you expect. Don’t forget to take precautions to avoid getting sunburned (in particular if you have sensitive skin).
Wear a long-sleeved shirt and a cap or a sun hat to protect you against the sun when it is strongest.
Additionally, sunscreen should be a permanent item in your travel bag – always kept within reach. In some places you may need it more than you have imagined!
How to prevent or at least minimise the risk of experiencing altitude sickness?
When travelling at high altitude, you need to consider the risk of being struck by altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness can occur when oxygen levels are low. The number of oxygen molecules per breath decrease. In order to compensate for the lower oxygen concentration you will need to breathe faster, and your heart will have to beat faster, too.
The risk of getting to suffer from altitude sickness starts at altitudes higher than 8,000 ft, or 2,500 m. This means that even at many ski resorts and other well-frequented places, people are exposed to the risk, often even without giving any thought to it.
Your body has to adapt slowly to the decreased levels of oxygen. It needs to acclimatise. This means that the risk of being affected by altitude sickness increases if you ascend too fast.
The symptoms of altitude sickness are most often headache, insomnia, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, lack of appetite and nausea. They can all vary in degree and needn’t all be present.
To avoid being struck by altitude sickness you should try to acclimatise slowly and therefore only ascend at a slow pace if possible at all. Of course this is not possible if you from sea level fly into a high-altitude place. But if you drive or hike, you should only increase your sleeping elevation by 300 m (1000 ft) per night. Additionally, every 1000 m (3000 ft), you should spend a second night at the same altitude.
Other travel safety tips are to rest during your first days at a high altitude and drink a lot of water (many litres per day) in order not to get dehydrated. In the Andes Mountains people chew coca leaves or drink coca tea to fight soroche which is the Latin American term for altitude sickness.
If you despite all measures taken happen to be affected by altitude sickness, the best piece of advice is to descend to a lower level to sleep. In this way you can continue and still guarantee your body a safe trip. It is the elevation during your sleep which matters the most.
If you have only lighter symptoms, altitude sickness usually goes away during a couple of days. Otherwise, in more severe cases, you need to get extra oxygen and other hospital treatment. Never ignore the travel safety tips and your health! Reacting to severe symptoms should never be neglected as they in the worst (and rare) cases can be fatal.
Be aware that some countries and locations are far more polluted than others. If you happen to travel to a high-risk pollution area, you should at least keep an eye on the pollution levels while there. They often vary a lot – even during the same day (view real-time pollution updates).
To minimise the effects of the low air quality, you can aim at going out at the time of the day with the lowest expected pollution level. Moreover, there may be locations nearby, you alternatively can consider going to, which are less polluted. You may also consider wearing a hygienic face mask if you cannot avoid high-pollution areas.
As a traveller you are exposed to various kinds of crime risks at different levels. To reduce the risks you will probably want to take some safety measures and follow common travel safety tips.
When preparing for a trip, check out the crime risks on your expected travel route and at your destinations. In this way you may be able to take relevant precautions to reduce the risks.
An unstable situation in the country you are going to can pose a significant risk to you if you don’t take appropriate precautions.
Are you passing or going to high-risk countries or areas? Are there significant threats of terrorism, violent extremism or organised crime? Is there a risk of kidnapping or violent clashes between the military / police and terrorist or rebel groups? Is there a volatile security situation?
Provide detailed information about your anticipated travel destinations and follow governmental travel advisories, as well as advisories given by local authorities. Based on those you may as a safeguard in some cases want to exercise increased caution or even change your planned itinerary.
Even if not travelling to high-risk areas, you should still have in mind how to ensure a safe trip. Useful travel safety tips to minimise the risk of being mugged include considering your behaviour and travel gear.
To reduce the risk of being robbed, you should avoid flashing your wealth in public. Hide your money, credit cards and other values in different places on you. It can be in a belt pouch, in a hidden sleeve or in hidden pockets in your trousers (zipped from inside). You can also get a real belt with a hidden, long and narrow pocket where the zip is on the innerside and hence invisible to others. No-one would suspect that this is other than a mere belt. There is not room for a lot, but some well-folded banknotes and a list of emergency numbers can certainly be a good reserve and safeguard if the unlikely happens.
Especially for high-risk destinations: leave your valuables back home. There is no need to tempt by flashing your expensive watch, golden ring or other jewellery. Blend in with the surroundings and don’t draw attention with a massive backpack and your big camera round your neck! Don’t tempt pickpockets!
Spread the risk and values across several pieces of luggage/purse/belt pouch and among fellow travellers. If one is robbed, he or she may still have some money and a credit card in another place – and the rest of your company may still have their share!
Only keep smaller amounts in your pocket or wallet for daily shopping purposes.
Take a dummy purse / wallet with smaller notes inside and maybe a couple of outdated credit cards. In this way you have something to hand over in case of robbery, still keeping your real wallet in a safe place on you. You may even consider having your old mobile phone with you – to be able to satisfy a robber without passing your normal phone.
Other travel safety tips include using the hotel safe for your valuables, spare credit cards, passport, keys and other indispensable items.
If you haven’t got access to a safe, you may prefer carrying all values on you in hidden pockets, money belt etc. instead of leaving something of value in the hotel room – even if it looks safe at first sight. It is a matter of preference and trust in the people and the place – as well as how you as a traveller feel safe!
In case your door lock does not look secure, you can use a portable travel door lock.
Never open your door for people you don’t expect. Even if someone knocks on your door claiming to be housekeeping or maintenance staff, always exercise caution and confirm with the front desk that they sent someone.
Know where you have to be extra alert. Ask at your local hotel or hostel if you can go out at night or if there are areas you should not go to on your own. In some places it is preferable to stay together in a group when going out.
Pay extra attention if there is no one else around and seek the more populated streets. Don’t flash a map in such situations since it is a direct sign that you are a tourist and a possible ’target’. Try to blend in with the surroundings.
Some of the very annoying incidents, you can come across when travelling, are travel scams. You are especially exposed to it if you are not familiar with the culture where you are. Try to get as much information as possible beforehand to avoid the most common tricks used at the destination.
For the safe trip, you may therefore want to adjust your usual travel gear with inspiration in the following anti-theft gear:
- A safe bag with inside pockets and zips
- Travel security belt
- Money belt
- Portable door lock
- Safety sleeve
- Secret pockets in trousers or bags
- Padlock to fasten your bag or backpack to furniture or to prevent opening it
- Money pouch or wallet with RFID protection to avoid identity theft
For internet security you can consider using a VPN connection in case of insecure networks and connections during your trip. This ensures a secure connection.
Rule number one is to use registered taxis only. Before going, check how you will be able to recognise the registered taxi companies at your destination.
- What are the colours of the taxis?
- Which signs should you look for?
- Do drivers wear a name tag with the company name?
- Where to find the taxis? (check the airport description)
- Should you agree on a price before entering?
Taking appropriate precautions and staying alert are the best means to get a safe trip!
Transport safety includes air travel safety, as well as road safety (and additionally also boat safety).
When travelling the world, you will want to know the safety ratings of the airlines you are using. Especially when travelling in parts of the world, where there are many airlines with lower ratings operating, it is useful to know the airline safety rankings.
There may well be a trade-off between ticket price and safety rating of the airlines, but there isn’t always such a pronounced difference. Knowing that you use airlines with a decent rating will naturally minimise your safety concerns. You will know that the security aspects are taken care of to the highest possible extent!
You can visit an airline rating page such as Airline ratings to get recent data on the airline ratings and compare the airlines.
In the ratings you will be able to see if the airlines meet the standards set.
More specifically, you will be able to see:
- Airline country of origin.
- If the airline has obtained the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification. The audit assesses in a standardised way operational management and control systems.
- If the airline is allowed in the European Union (EU).
- If the airline has been fatality free for the last 10 years.
- If the airline is endorsed by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States.
- If the country of airline origin meets all 8 safety parameters defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These are standards and regulations within aviation safety and security as well as environmental protection.
- A final safety rating with a maximum of 7 stars.
Use the ratings as guidelines on which airlines to travel with to have a safe trip! They in particular prove useful when you travel in parts of the world where you are not very familiar with the airlines operating. The airline ratings can therefore help you decide which flights to book.
In addition to the mere ratings you may of course also take factors like flight service and flight timetables into account. There can be times where airlines with fewer stars for individual reasons outweigh the 7 stars…
If you are planning to go by car, examine the road safety in the country. The risk of getting involved in a car accident can be considerable in some countries. You may want to take extra safety precautions when going on a road trip at high-risk locations.
When renting a car you need to consider and decide on a number of security and safety matters.
When getting the car, check if all visible damages on the car are already registered with the rental service. To be able to document that they were already there in the first place, you can take photos of the car before leaving the premises.
Remember to check which side of the road to drive on at your destination. About 30% of all countries in the world drive on the left side of the road and 70% on the right side of the road!
Some countries are notorious for road accidents.
You can check and compare the Traffic Death Rate for all countries. The rates are estimated road traffic death rates per 100,000 population.
On the website Death on the roads you can also see if a country has good drink driving laws, good speed limit laws as well as good child seat, helmet and seat belt laws.
You may well be surprised that some of the countries, that you consider ‘safe’, not in all respects get top ratings…
Both when planning your trip and while travelling, you can use the information as travel safety tips to help decide if you want to drive around in your own (rental) car or if you prefer to use public transport. Maybe you would rather take an organised tour where locals used to the traffic situation take care of the driving for you.
Road trips pose one of the higher risks when travelling. Some bus companies are known for being less safe than others. If possible, check their safety records and choose one with a good rating as well as safe and experienced drivers. The ‘secure’ companies operating in higher-risk countries often state it on their website.
In some cases you may even consider adding another flight leg to your trip instead of moving around on the roads.