Writing about security while traveling is a tough topic. You want to help people be prepared. But you don’t want to scare them either. Most long-term travelers will tell you that most safety concerns people have about traveling in the world are overblown. I echo that sentiment. That’s not to say that you don’t have to be careful, far from it. But, most long-term travelers figure out pretty quickly how to mitigate their risk. You will always have a bit of a risk. It’s called life. So, do some up-front preparation and planning so you can act quickly if you do fall prey to a ne’er-do-well.
Safety and Security Tips for Career Break Travel
- Address prevention before you leave. Don’t leave without making photocopies of all your key items: passport, credit cards and driver’s license or national ID. Keep a copy with you, scan a copy and email them to yourself so you can print on the road. And finally, as extra backup, leave a copy with a trusted family member or friend back home.
- Register your trip with your embassy. The chances that your embassy will have to contact you is pretty remote. But, doing so does streamlines communications in case something happens to you. Many embassies have online forms to make it easy on you.
- Get the scoop on safety and security issues from the locals and the other travelers. Many places that have a tinge of danger to their reputation either aren’t, have it localized to places where you wouldn’t go anyway, or have special rules to minimize your risk. Always rely on the locals and other travelers to get the real scoop. If someone wants to give you advice about the safety of place, ask if they’ve been. You’ll be surprised at how many haven’t.
- Take only what you need for the day. There is no need to pack your entire life when you go out exploring for the day. Don’t take your passport (copy will be fine), wallet or any credit or debit cards you’re not going to use). Keep your backpack light with just the gear you want or need.
- Safety in numbers: Consider a small tour group operator like Gap Adventures. If the idea of throwing yourself out into the world is still a little daunting, then join up with a small group tour operator. In India, we had a tight-knit group so no one ever had to walk the streets alone. It was great to explore the cities and towns with others in our group. And, it certainly boosted our confidence as we explored.
Now, my B-Side Safety and Security Tips for Your Career Break Travel
- Keep it all in the front pockets. If someone wants to get into your pants, so to speak, it will be much more noticeable if they are reaching for your frontside rather than your backside.
- Consider locking the zippers on your backpack. I’ve seen a few travelers do this to give them peace of mind while walking around.
- Make friends in your hostel. Chances are you aren’t the only one traveling solo. So, go to the common area and strike up a conversation with someone at your hostel. They would probably appreciate making a new friend to hang out with too.
- Find out how safe it is to go out at night. Security situations are always local. And, it can vary greatly between the day and night. So, always find out if you need to get around differently at night than you do during the day.
- Keep your money in the bra. This one’s for the ladies. I’ve had several female friends of mine use this trick to take away the worry about walking around with cash.
- Skip the internal money belts. For the record, I’ve never used one. And, most people I’ve met who had one, never used it. If someone in the comments wants to make the case for using these belts, feel free. But, I don’t see the need for this product. There are other ways you can deal with your money when you’re out and about.
- Keep your cell phone and iPod hidden. The price of the these gadgets in many countries makes them highly desired by thieves. So, don’t flash them around when you are walking around.
- Get black earbuds. White headphones are an unmistakable marker of an iPod. Replace them with simple black earbuds. And, place the cord underneath your shirt so it is harder to notice that you are listening to your favorite songs while walking down the street.
Check out the other topics covered in the Gap Adventures Career Break Video Series
- Packing Tips for a Career Break
- Money Tips for Your Career Break
- Security 101 While Traveling
- Discovering A Country Through Its Food
- How to Get Around Like a Local While Traveling
- Why Consider a Small Group Tour Operator on Your Career Break
- Cooking Class in India: Learn Something New on Your Career Break
- Solo Travel: How to Travel Alone Without Feeling Lonely
- Getting to Know Our Tour Leader in India
Disclosure: I am serving as the Gap Adventures media spokesman for career break travel. While this series is part of a broader campaign to raise awareness about career break travel, all opinions, tips and advice are mine.