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11 tips to stay safe while traveling abroad

Posted October 31

Every time we turn on the news and see what’s going on in the world, it's pretty frightening. Bombings, shootings, protests, terrorism — it’s everywhere now. It’s easy to let this fear of pain and destruction get to your head and make you want to bunker down and never leave your home again.

However, if New Yorkers’ reactions to recent bombings in New York City have done anything, it’s prove that we won’t let fear control us. And we certainly won’t let it stop us from traveling abroad. No matter where you go, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, especially somewhere that is unfamiliar or foreign to you.

In order to see the world in such tumultuous times, you must take extra caution to be safe. Here are 11 ways to stay safe while you travel.

1. Make copies of your documents

In case you lose important travel documents, like your passport or license, make electronic copies of them so you will still be able to travel home. Be sure to keep your identification and other travel documents on your person at all times, and in a safe place where they won’t be easily stolen.

2. Don’t walk alone at night

Try to walk with another trustworthy person or stay with a group of people while walking at night. If you do walk alone, carry necessary defensive mechanisms like a whistle or pepper spray.

3. Spread the locations of your valuables

Don’t keep all of your money in one place. Spread it out in multiple locations so if you are a victim of theft you won’t lose everything. Also when traveling, try not to wear too much flashy, expensive jewelry. Keep it simple and small.

4. Locks are handy

When you are in your hotel, hostel or Airbnb, make sure all the windows and doors are locked at all times, even if you are home. Take extra precaution to keep your luggage and valuables safe by making sure they are locked up or out of sight.

5. Let someone know your plans

While traveling, make sure at least one person from home knows your full itinerary. Keep in contact with that person so they know you've made it there safely, or are on your way home. If something bad were to happen, it's good to know there is someone who can contact the necessary authorities.

6. Know your surroundings

Be aware of your surroundings. If you like to listen to music while you travel, only have one headphone in your ears so you aren’t deaf to what's going on in the area. Pay attention to landmarks and street signs. Keep an eye open for suspicious activity.

7. Look like a local

Keep your apparel simple. Avoid wearing heels or uncomfortable clothes that will make you stand out. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that will allow you to make a fast break in case you need to.

8. Don’t be afraid to say no

People can be pushy at times, which makes it easy to be pressured into saying yes. Don’t be afraid to say "NO!" and know how to say it. Saying no isn’t a bad thing, it allows you to maintain control of yourself and what you do and do not want to do.

9. Be confident

Be confident in yourself and if all else fails, pretend like you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going. If you’re lost, try not to stop and check your map or your phone in the middle of a street. Enter a local business or café to check your map instead.

10. Trust your gut

Listen to your conscience. If you have a bad feeling, pay attention to it and do whatever you can to get to a place where you feel safer. Don’t disregard bad or strange feelings — it’s your gut telling you something is wrong.

11. Make the most of it

Most of all, make the most of your experiences. Take all the necessary precautions to stay safe but don’t let fear stop you from having the time of your life. Traveling abroad or anywhere in the world is a once in a lifetime adventure. You’ll never get this time or these moments back. Keep your head held high and don’t let anything stop you from seeing the world.

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