Travel Safety Tips for the Safe and Secure Traveller & Trip
Would you like have a safe trip? Then check out our travel safety tips and see what you can do to minimise the travel risks!
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 28 JAN 2020
1. Travel safety tips – have a safe trip
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! Use our travel safety tips when planning your trip!
How to have a safe trip so that you can focus on the funny things?
The question is how you can become a safe and secure traveller and 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. You preferably should not have to spend too many of your resources on the practical stuff and problem solving while travelling. You want to be able to focus on the enjoyable experiences!
Following some basic travel safety tips you will have the best odds to get a safe trip and at the same time dedicate yourself 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 aspects, some to crime and some to financial and practical matters.
Other travel risks entirely depend on the 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 and secure traveller!
Making a trip as safe and trouble-free as possible both involves a good deal of planning before travelling and a certain degree of sensible behaviour while on the fly!
2. Preparations to get a safe trip
Know the country-specific travel risks to get a safe trip
Do your research beforehand. Before going you should get as informed as you can about the specific travel risks in the countries you go 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 to increase the chances to get a safe trip.
Additionally, read a couple of online local newspapers or other local news to know about the political situation and possible demonstrations and strikes in the country. This can be a good idea for some 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 it in mind when you are planning a trip to such higher-risk destinations. Some seasons may be preferable to others to get as safe a trip as possible.
Register with your Embassy. They will then contact you in case of alerts (natural disasters or other incidents that might affect your trip).
Check out the safety tips!
Make a contingency plan to ensure a safe 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 be a safe and secure traveller 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 at once 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).
As a secure traveller you can prepare for photos to be uploaded to Dropbox, One Drive or elsewhere such that not all your visual memories will be lost in case of theft or robbery.
Insurance and bank travel security – travel safety tips – visa
Check your insurance as to 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 the 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 get 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. You may check it and apply for it here on iVisa.com: Check visa – get visa or fill in the following form:
3. Travel essentials
We list here some of the items you may want to take for you trip to be a safe traveller and to take precautions to foresee any situation:
Make travel route and book accommodation for a safe trip
To ensure that you don’t risk losing too much time at your destination looking for available 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 on the fly.
Having already planned your entire itinerary and made the necessary bookings from home gives reassurance and helps ensure that your trip becomes as safe and trouble-free as possible.
Hand luggage only on your trip – just to be safe!
A different security 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.
Have you have ever tried to stand at the airport conveyor belt ready to pick up your suitcase and impatient to get out of the airport, only eventually to realise that the wait has been in vain? You see everybody else’s suitcase coming, but precisely your suitcase does not come. In this case you may well consider taking only hand luggage on your next trip!
In particular, if you are not staying at the location you fly into, but have planned to continue travelling, immediately upon arrival, to a destination further away, you will be terribly affected by the missing luggage. You are even worse off if you have a road trip scheduled with new overnight locations 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 an individual matter to make up your mind that it is possible for you to travel that light and limit yourself to the size of a hand luggage sized trolley or rucksack. Evidently, it may require some rethinking of what to pack!
4. Safe and secure trip – road and airline travel safety tips
To be a secure traveller you will need to consider transport safety. Travel safety tips include both air travels and road trips (and in principle also boat trips).
Air safety – travel with the safest airlines in the world
When travelling the world it is worth getting some prior knowledge of the safety ratings of the airlines you are going to use – to be a secure traveller. Especially, when you travel in parts of the world where there are many airlines with lower ratings operating, it is worth getting information on 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. Being secure in the knowledge that you use airlines with a decent rating will naturally minimise your safety concerns. You will be able to relax more during the flight, knowing that the security aspects are taken care of to the highest possible extent!
You can visit an airline rating page like 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.
The ratings certainly can be used as guidelines on which airlines to include in your travel itinerary to get a safe trip! They in particular prove to be 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.
You may of course in addition to the mere ratings also take factors like flight service, flight timetables etc. into account. There can be times where airlines with fewer stars for individual reasons outweigh the 7 stars, but at least check the ratings so that it is a (deliberate) choice you make.
Road and car trip safety
Before deciding on your next travel destination, you may 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 travelling around at high-risk locations.
Renting a car – the safe and secure traveller
If you want to get around at your destination with full flexibility and at your own pace, renting a car is often the obvious solution.
However, when renting a car you need to consider and decide on a number of security and safety matters.
To what extent does you usual insurance cover incidents? Check the policy!
Which extra insurance cover do you need to get (with the car rental)?
What is the excess in case of accidents and damage to the car?
Is the liability cover included?
What kind of safety equipment comes with the car?
Do you need to book child seats?
Upon car rental, 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!
Road travel risk
Some countries are notorious for road accidents.
You can check the Traffic Death Rate for a country and compare the traffic death rate in all the 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.
When you go into detail with the figures, 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 to help decide if you want to rent your own car to drive around or if you prefer to use public transport (buses, trains). Maybe you would rather go on an organised tour where locals used to the traffic situation take care of the driving for you.
Safe and secure transport for the trip
Useful travel safety tips include choosing your means of transportation wisely. Road travels pose one of the higher risks when you travel. 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 to get a safe trip instead of moving around on the roads.
5. Health aspects
Travel vaccinations – safety tips
To be a safe and secure traveller, 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.
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 you travel. 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 vaccination.
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 against malaria exists.
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 your 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 recent recommendations and requirements since they frequently change.
Travel pharmacy – safety tips
Getting ill while travelling is not what anyone anticipates when planning a trip. However, in the unlikely event of falling ill during your journey, you can take precautions by having 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 flue 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 taking travel sickness pills, especially if you sometimes suffer from motion sickness. In that way you can avoid destroying a whole day with seasickness. If you tend to get motion sickness while flying, this might also be a remedy to help overcome that.
Safe drinking water is important for any traveller
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 to get bacterial problems. 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 so easily accessible.
In these cases a solution can be to bring your own water purification tablets to add to the water for a safe trip! Just be aware that they may take 15-30 minutes to dissolve and give the desired effect before you drink the water. 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 you for safety reasons can consider is to buy a portable water purifier that kills all bacteria in the water. View a water purifier here: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
In addition to this you should be alert about your drinks in public places like bars for another reason. This applies when you travel, just like it applies when you are back home. Never leave your drink and come back for it later. You cannot know if anyone has added some kinds of drugs to it.
Safe food on your trip
As in the case with drinking water, be careful with what you eat. Raw food may contain bacteria and viruses that your immune system does not protect you from and therefore should be avoided.
It is of course a matter of finding the right level of ‘food security’ – both considering not getting food poisoning and at the same time allowing yourself to try awesome local food! The well-known advice still applies: peel raw fruits, eat where the food is fresh /recently cooked and try to eat mainly cooked dishes in restaurants, don’t drink tap water etc. Better safe than sorry!
Sun protection / Exposure to sun
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 against getting sunburnt. This in particular applies 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. You may buy a sun hat here: SUNCUBE Outdoor Wide Brim Sun Hat with Neck Cover Flap | Men, Women Summer Sun Protection Hat UPF 50+
Additionally, sunscreen should also be a permanent item in your travel bag – always kept within reach. In some places you may need it more than you have imagined!
Altitude sickness – travel safety tips
How to prevent or at least minimise the risk of getting altitude sickness?
When travelling in high altitude mountains, you need to consider the risk of getting 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 getting altitude sickness increases if you ascend too fast.
The symptoms of altitude sickness are among others 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 getting altitude sickness you should therefore try to acclimatise slowly and therefore only ascend at a slow pace if that is at all possible. Of course this is not possible if you fly into a high-altitude place from sea level. 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 location 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 get to suffer from altitude sickness anyway, 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 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 locations in the world 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 times of the day with the lowest expected pollution levels. There may also be locations nearby, you alternatively can consider going to, which have lower pollution levels.
Finally, you can also opt for wearing a hygienic face mask which some people living in high pollution areas occasionally do.
6. Crime risks – travel safety tips
As a traveller you are exposed to various kinds of crime risks at different levels. To reduce the risks, you expose yourself to, you can wisely take some safety measures.
When preparing for a trip, being a safe and secure traveller, you should get as informed about the crime risks in places along your expected travel route and at your expected destinations as possible.
Travel advisories due to political situation, threat of terrorism or organised crime
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?
To be a safe and secure traveller you need to get detailed information about your anticipated travel destinations and follow governmental advice as well as advice from local authorities. Based on those you may as a safeguard in some cases want to exercise increased caution or even change your planned itinerary.
Normal travel safety tips and security precautions
Even if not travelling to high-risk areas, you should still have in mind how to get a safe trip. Useful travel safety tips to minimise the risk of being mugged include considering your behaviour and travel gear.
Behaviour – the safe and secure traveller
As a safe and secure traveller you will exercise caution as to where to keep your values.
Hide money and valuables
To reduce the risk of being robbed, you should avoid flashing your wealth in public. Hide the majority of 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! As a secure traveller, 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.
Use the hotel safe on your trip
To be a secure traveller you may opt for 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 best feel a safe and secure!
Secure hotel or hostel room
In case your door lock does not look secure, one of many efficient travel safety tips is to 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 be a secure traveller and confirm with the front desk that they sent someone.
Travel safety tips: Stay alert and be wise
As a safe traveller you will know where you, in particular, 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 locations it is preferable to stay together in a group when you go out.
Pay extra attention if there is no-one else around and seek then 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.
Travel safety tips: Avoid travel scams
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 of the country. Try to get as much information beforehand as possible to avoid the most common tricks used at the destination.
Travel gear for the safe trip
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
- 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.
Safe travels by taxi – travel safety tips
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!