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10 ways to stay safe while travelling overseas

Published June 9th, 2014

Travelling abroad to study? On your first trip overseas sans parents or simply heading to a new destination? There’s a lot to think about before you even set foot on that plane. Taking a few precautions when you are out and about in a new city or country can mean the difference between having an awesome trip and the holiday from hell where everything goes wrong. Being street smart and travel savvy means you, and your friends and fam back home, can breathe easily knowing you are safe and having an amazing time. While we’re not saying you need to stock up on the hand sanitiser or cover yourself in bubble wrap, here’s our top 10 tips about how to stay safe while travelling overseas.

 

 

1. Get insured

Yep, it’s a boring but necessary part of any overseas trip to factor insurance into your travel budget. Stuff can be replaced, you cannot. Make sure your travel insurance includes health cover and protects against natural disasters and unforeseen circumstances like political unrest or transport strikes. If you are toting valuable equipment with you, consider getting that insured as well.

 

2. Keep it in the cloud

Make copies of your passport and travel documents such as plane tickets, travel insurance details, credit cards and your travel itinerary. Keep a copy with you and leave another copy at home with your parents/flatmate/barista. It’s also a good idea to scan your important information into an app like Evernote so you can easily access your details online. Back up your photos, notes and music so you can still access your personal info too if your phone/laptop/camera gets stolen.

 

3. Big Brother is watching

Get on Smart Traveller to access the Australian Government online travel advisory service to research your destination, check any updates and register your travel plans before you go. This will help in the event of an emergency at home or abroad.

 

4. Be safe, but don't be scared

Being aware of your surroundings is important when you are out and about in public, anywhere. Looking like a tourist can make you a target for thieves and scammers, so keep your bling to a minimum and don’t flash your smartphone or SLR around in public. Be wary of overly friendly people approaching you. They may just want to offer you a cheap stay in their pension, or maybe distract you while you get rolled. And if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 

5. Don't pack your booty

Cramming your wallet into your back pocket is a huge fail. Separate your cash from your credit cards so if you lose one money source you have a backup, and carry your passport and valuables at the front or within a money belt on your person. If you don’t have a credit card, consider a travel money card like a Cash Passport, which allows you to access your own money in the local currency from ATMs and wherever MasterCard is accepted. It’s the convenience of local currency with the security of a credit card – plus 24/7 global assistance. Some travellers even carry a decoy wallet with expired cards and a small amount of cash to hand over if mugged.

 

 

6. Get checked out

Heading to the Amazon or on safari? Make an appointment with your GP or a travel doctor for a checkup before you head overseas and to find out what vaccinations you may need for your destination. It’s much better to get the jab at home than in a seedy, unsanitary clinic OS. Just sayin’. Also, bring any medications with you – don’t expect to find everything you need overseas.

 

7. We like to party

Travelling is all about embracing the different and having the time of your life. So we’re not here to be the fun police, in fact, we’ll probably be the ones at that dodgy bar dancing to the cheesy tunes! But while travelling our advice is to go slow on the drinks, keep an eye on your glass and avoid getting drunk in unfamiliar surroundings for safety purposes. And do we even have to mention drugs in a foreign country? Just. Don’t.

 

8. Keep it local

For the lowdown on the safe parts of town, you can’t beat local knowledge. Whether it’s a friend who has travelled there before or the hostel staff, chat to those in the know about where to go and where to definitely avoid. Do your research to avoid being in a sticky situation away from home. Also, learn a few phrases in the local lingo – you’ll sound less like a tourist and make more friends.

 

9. Don't be cheap

While a backpacker needs to stick to a budget, it pays to shell out a bit more for safety reasons sometimes. Like taking a taxi instead of walking to a club in a dodgy part of town. And staying in a hotel for your first night in a new city so you can get your bearings and have a safe place to stash your stuff while you plot your next  move.

 

10. Stay in touch

By all means take the road less travelled, get off the beaten track, but don’t go off the grid entirely. Make use of free wi-fi at hostels, public spaces and cafes to stay in touch with loved ones on the go. Get an international SIM card for your phone to call and text overseas without racking up a huge debt, and set up an app like Viber to send free texts, photos, data or voice chat with wi-fi or 3G connection. And teach your parents how to use it too!

 

Bonus tip: Did you book with Student Flights? Big-ups to you! Not only did you score cheap flights, you’ll also have access to our 24/7 emergency global assistance line where help is just a phone call away.

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.