10 Safety Tips for Travelling Expats
There is an extraordinary amount of information and advice readily available to travellers – below we have put together 10 of the best tips to aid you on your adventures!
Visit your potential new home before you dive in
If you plan on staying in one place for a number of months, it is worth visiting for a week or 2 and renting an apartment to make sure that the reality meets your expectations. It’s important that you feel comfortable and secure in your new potential surroundings, so be sure to carry out some daily tasks like a weekly shop, walking around on your own, using services like a laundrette or public transport.
Make sure you understand local customs
With recent news stories about public displays of affections causing dire consequences in countries with strict customs, it is worth doing your research and ensuring that you are familiar with local ways and expectations. For example (on a slightly lighter note) chewing gum has been banned in Singapore for the last 2 years and feeding the birds in Venice can cost you up to £500.
Befriend the locals
Be brave and start conversations! It can be easy to hold back because of cultural differences but you are there to explore and experience. From local shopkeepers, waitresses and those frequenting cafes and restaurants to joining local sports teams, embrace your new community with open arms and build yourself a life.
Avoid wandering around with maps in your hand
Nothing says ‘vulnerable’ like wondering around with an open map or tourist guide – this is bound to draw unwanted attention from pickpockets and other criminals. If you need too, study routes in the safety of your place of stay before you leave or seek refuge by discreetly consulting your map at a café or restaurant. A carefully placed smart phone, with head phones and google maps can be an alternative!
Be extra vigilant when in crowded areas
Unfortunately crowded places aren’t rife with criminals that will be well rehearsed with a ‘distract and grab’ method. Any couples fiercely arguing out of nowhere and fights breaking out suddenly are created with one purpose in mind – to attract your attention and take any valuables that they can. Don’t fall prey career to crooks, travel light and be creative with where you keep your cash and cards.
Never carry your passport
Unfortunately, we have already discussed that being a tourist can make you a prime target, so keeping your passport in a safe and secure place is the most sensible idea. Unless you are crossing borders, it is highly unlikely that you will need your passport unless otherwise specified. Some activities such as safaris, actually ask you to keep your documents on you at all times, in case evacuation is needed.
Prepare for the worst
If the worst happens and you have your purse/wallet stolen it’s good to have back-ups. Use cloud storage solutions like Google Docs or Dropbox and keep front/back copies of your bank or credits cards and a copy of your passport, along with the relevant contact numbers should you need to cancel and reissue cards. Keep a backup sum of money in a safe place, in case of an emergency.
Love Many – Trust Few
Even if you are travelling with a partner or friend, sometimes you may find yourself craving some more company. Be cautious and take your time when getting to know new people, it’s a sad fact that many criminals have mastered the art of befriending those who are travelling, don’t leave your valuables and yourself in any potential danger.
Keep in regular contact with home
Letting a designated family member or friend know your whereabouts and movements is not only a great way to keep homesickness at bay, but also to let your loved ones know that you are ok – keep a consistent planned schedule so should anything happen, it alerts them quickly.
Always use licensed taxis
In most countries it is easy to distinguish licensed taxis, although please take note that in some countries, it is advised to avoid taxis altogether. Seek out reputable companies before leaving for your travels, or one that has affiliations with your place or stay, tour operator or airport. Be sure to ask for a price before your journey, wear a seatbelt and to be particularly vigilant, there are GPS tracking apps that will text your exact location to a chosen contact if you don’t check in with then after a specified time.