While traveling isn't necessarily more dangerous than staying in one place, it does mean that you have be constantly aware of your surroundings and personal belongings. Here are some resources we've collected on several aspects of safety during travel.
1. Embassy Alerts
Go to your passport country's Embassy website, and look for the option to sign up for email alerts. Most of them have the option to opt in to email alerts about the country you're traveling to. They will only send you emails when there are planned public protests, terrorism warnings, or general threat levels to consider in your area of the world. We have personally found these alerts incredibly helpful, both practically and for our peace of mind.
If you are a US citizen, you can register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).
2. Avoiding Scams
All travelers are targets for pick pocketing and scams. You've probably been advised to split up your cash in different pockets or a travel belt, and to keep an eye out for anyone getting in your face to distract you as they swipe your phone from the table or your pocket. Here are some articles about other common travel scams, and how to avoid them.
- 8 Scams to Avoid on Your Digital Nomad Adventure by Daniel Schwartz
- How to Avoid Being Scammed in a New Town by Helen Anagru
- Our Dumbest Travel Moments by the Thrifty Nomads
The third article is full of general common sense advise for long term travelers, and includes a bit on scamming in Europe.
Some travelers advise on keeping a dummy wallet with expired cards, which you can hand over in the event of a mugging. While we need to give credit to the creativity of this solution, it seems a bit impractical to carry around an extra wallet or purse given the probability of muggings.
Lastly, if you ever find yourself thinking "it won't happen to me", check out this video to see just how slick some thieves can be.
3. Products and Apps that help keep you safe
- 10 Wearable Safety and GPS Devices for Kids by SafeWise
- The Best Kids Trackers by Wearable
- Top Ten Medical Alert Bracelets of 2016 by Top Ten Reviews
- Facebook Safety Check In (If you're nearby a natural or manmade disaster when it happens, remember to log in to Facebook, which will automatically ask if you're okay and let your friends and family know)
- GeoSure (A global safety app that combines data from crime statistics, Interpol, World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, United Nations, and many other sources to give you the best picture of safety wherever you want to go)
- ICE (In Case of Emergency stores your medical info and emergency contacts for first responders, allowing you to hit an alarm button in the case of an accident, which automatically sends an emergency SMS to your closed loves ones)
4. Know your Address
Knowing the address of where you're staying isn't just for the taxi ride from the airport. If you've lost your way and your network signal, it helps to have your address written down. You can memorize it in your mother tongue or the local language, but having it written down will avoid pronunciation issues and in a format locals are used to.
5. Dress Minimally
This is usually a pretty easy rule to follow for long-term travelers since we tend to purchase gear that is versatile and durable, as opposed to the latest trend in fashion. Dress simply and avoid flashy jewelry. If you stand out you are much more likely to be a target.
6. Let Friends and Family Know Where You'll Be
As travelers we can find ourselves in some pretty amazing and off the beaten path places. We're exploring caves in Slovenia, scuba diving in the blue waters of Zanzibar or maybe dancing under the stars at Thailands' Full Moon Party. This is what it's all about, right?! Sure it is, but it's a good idea to let your friends and family know where you're heading and when they can expect to hear back from you.
7. Use Airport Taxi Kiosks
Sure, that nice fella directing you to the taxi kiosk at the airport is likely getting a kickback and charging you a premium rate. Think of this as an insurance premium. The taxi drivers they use are registered and usually speak English well. If you leave something being in the taxi or have a complaint about your driver, you can ring the airport via the number on your booking slip and they'll check on your lost items or address the complaint. The worst case scenario here is being driven to a secluded location and robbed or assaulted, so again pay the premium and use the kiosk.
Photo Credit: The Kings, Denandraresan