The first step to staying safe while traveling is to always be aware of your surroundings, having situational awareness can often allow you to avoid a potentially dangerous situation before it occurs. Situational awareness is the ability to constantly assess your surroundings in order to recognize when a threat exists, and to be able to react appropriately. When you are aware of what’s going on around you, it’s easier to stay safe while traveling with friends or family. Be mindful of your surroundings before taking a taxi ride, walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood at night, or riding in the backseat of someone else’s car.

The second step is to set up a travel plan with your family and friends. This way, if something does happen, they will know where you are and what you are doing so they can come find you. There are many components to a well constructed travel emergency plan. Make a list of your resources and contacts, including emergency services – such as police and ambulance services. You should also have a list of emergency contacts, family members or friends who you can call to plan and coordinate with and, if possible, an emergency contact in the country or area you are visiting so they can help if anything goes wrong. Other good resources include: Local religious institutions that can assist in the event of a crisis. Hospitals and medical clinics in the area you are visiting. Local banks with the ability to wire money or issue cash cards, and the local branch of your credit card company.

Padlocks on a chain fence - for staying safe while traveling post
A simple padlock can help prevent your valuables from going missing.

Tell your family where you are going to be traveling to and how long you will be there. It is important for friends and family to know what they should do when you are not present – which may constitute calling a friend, checking in at work or contacting the police if they believe that you are in danger. Consider setting up a regular schedule for calling or texting your friends and family.

There are many different types of violence that can occur while traveling, such as sexual assault and robbery. Understanding the risks you take when you travel will make you more prepared in the event of an emergency. Try to avoid hiking/camping alone and consider training to defend yourself against assault. Additional risks you take when you travel include food safety, illness and injury, climate extremes, natural disasters and crime. The risks of food safety include diseases transmitted through raw or under cooked meat or poultry; tainted fish caught from lakes or rivers that have been contaminated with animal waste; a bad batch of ice cream from a street vendor that has spoiled. When traveling abroad it is important to be aware of the risk for contracting diseases, such as hepatitis A and typhoid fever, so it is important to stay up to date on your vaccines.

Consider also researching safe places in areas you are going to be traveling to. It can be in a public place such as a library or in your own home with family members who will keep you safe. If you are not in a public place, you should try and have an escape plan or have a safe place to go. If you are in a public place, try and have it be as inconspicuous as possible while remaining safe. Avoid showing large amounts of cash or overly exposing expensive equipment (such as cameras), if possible avoid wearing clothing with expensive branding. Blending in, or remaining inconspicuous, can make you less likely to be a target for crimes such as pick pocketing.

When you’re traveling to a new place, or heading somewhere you’ve never been before, there are certain types of crime that have increased in recent years. These crimes include pick pocketing, purse snatching, and car break-ins. This may be due to the organized criminal activity present in cities like New York City and London. The best way to stay safe during this type of travel is by keeping your belongings close by with a money belt or pouch while making sure that your person is not accessible to others. This can be done by keeping a small notebook with your contact information, vital medical information and other important documents in the event of an emergency. When traveling internationally, you should also avoid exposing your passport unnecessarily and write down the number of your embassy or consulate.

In summary, having a well prepared travel plan can help you have a stress free experience – but it requires preparation. Do your homework before you leave and keep what was mentioned in this article in mind.

Happy (and safe) travels!

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