Staying Safe When You Travel Abroad

When you travel overseas, you are entering a world that is very different from the one you know at home. This is part of its charm – there are so many new things to experience, so many sights to see, and so many new people to meet. However, that same sweet strangeness also has a darker side – traveling overseas can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. Think about it – there are places you won’t go at home because they are dangerous, and exactly the same thing applies overseas. However, the problem is that you don’t know what is safe and what isn’t when you are in a foreign country, so you need to take extra precautions to make sure that you have an enjoyable and uneventful trip. These precautions don’t have to be onerous – most of them are common sense and just need a little presence of mind.

Closeup of an American passport held by a female hand.

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Staying safe starts before you ever set out on your journey. Make copies of all your important documentation, including passports, credit cards, medical documents and your travel itinerary. Keep one copy with you – but keep it separate from the originals. This will ensure that you have some form of identification at all times – even if it isn’t official – and let you do things such as cancel credit cards if they are stolen. Leave a copy with a friend at home as well, so that they have all your details if anything goes wrong. It’s also a good idea to check in with the US Embassy when you arrive, so that someone knows that you are in the country.

It’s also important to have a financial backup plan in place from the moment you arrive in a foreign country. For example, keep a credit card separate from your wallet, so that if your wallet is stolen you still have a credit card you can use. You might want to take some travelers checks as well, since it is relatively easy to replace these if they are stolen. Alternatively, agree with a friend before you set out on your trip that they will wire you funds if you get into trouble, using a service such as Finally, have a little emergency money available at all times – this can be as simple as putting a $20 bill in your shoe.

Don’t turn yourself into a target when you are abroad – walking around with an expensive

Rolex watch is just an invitation to have someone attack you. The same goes for carrying expensive cameras or wearing flashy jewelry – you are just setting yourself up for trouble if you do this. If you do take expensive objects on the trip with you, then take them off and store them somewhere safe before you head out to mix with the locals.


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Finally, if you do get into a bad situation, don’t try to be a hero. If someone pulls a knife on you, it’s usually because they want to rob you, not to kill you. Give them what they want – don’t fight back. Remember that you can always get more money, but you only have one life.

Photo by f-l-e-x on Flickr