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What dangers should a first-time world traveler be aware of, and how can he try to ensure a safe stay and return home?

Updated on January 3, 2009

the basics

This advice of course applies to both women and men.

These tips are a mixture of preparation, safety and general things to keep in mind.

  • ***Don't panic.  Whatever your problem is, it can be sorted out.***
  • Have good travel insurance.  If you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford to travel.
  • Don't take anything you're not prepared to lose, leave or have stolen.
  • Know your destination - everywhere in the world has places you shouldn't go to at certain times. Ask at the hotel, read up before you go or ask the locals for advice.
  • Dress appropriately. If it's a conservative country then follow the customs.
  • Don't be ostentatious. If you're in a poor country and are openly flashing expensive gadgets and jewellery then you're just asking for trouble. Just like if you go to the 'wrong' part of your town.
  • Keep a scanned copy of your travel docs (passport/tickets etc) in an email on a web based email account. that way there's no reason to carry paper copies.
  • Make sure you have the contact details local embassy. They're not usually a lot of help but they can usually tell you what you need to do if you're in trouble.
  • Have the contact details for your credit etc card providers in another email.
  • Pack light and buy what you need if you've forgotten something.
  • If you're staying in downmarket hotels, take a rubber door stop and put it under the door when you sleep.
  • Make sure you lock any valuable possessions in your bag in the hotel if you're not carrying them - or leave them in the safe at reception.
  • If you're travelling in some of the more remote areas of the world, set up a safe call system with someone at home. Chose a period - daily, weekly and then make sure you contact them at the appointed time. Make sure the contact can be by a few different means. Text, phonecall, email or twitter. A lot of the time mobiles won't work, but you should be able to find a public phone or an internet cafe. Always stick to you contact schedule and agree a buffer period (12/24hrs) before they raise the alarm.
  • Check the water quality of the country you visit.  If it's not recommended for visitors then make sure everything is peelable by you or cooked.  Only drink bottled water and never have ice in your drinks and don't brush your teeth with tap water or let it get into your mouth when showering.

you have more risk of your bag being lost by the airline than you have of being mugged.  When I'm travelling in the developing world it's usually the water that gets me.  every single time :( 

Travelling to another country is no different to travelling around the country you live in. There are both good and bad people everywhere. Being cautious is one thing, being paranoid will just ruin your trip.

oh and if you really want to get home safely, don't make cracks about bombs in bags when you're going through the airport. If you do, you'll discover pretty quickly the meaning of sense of humour failure. ;)


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    • Alexia Cournoyer profile image

      Alexia Cournoyer 8 years ago from London, England

      lol I doubt you are paranoid at all, but it's easy to tip over the edge. The media seem to portray this world of ours as a scary place - I suppose fear sells. The biggest problem I find when I'm travelling is a toss up between the locals being too friendly and those dratted carpet salesmen.

      That's not to say I haven't been mugged, scammed, lost bags, had wallets stolen or ended up looking down the business end of weaponry (that was a misunderstanding in Kuala Lumpur airport - honestly!).

      The world is a beautiful place and it's filled with people just like you and me. We all want the same things in life; peace, security, love and everything else is irrelevant.

      Next time we're inworld together give me a shout and we'll talk about your travel plans.. the chances are I've been there (or at least in the neighbourhood) and I'll give you the info dump.

    • sumosalesman profile image

      sumosalesman 8 years ago from Somersworth New Hampshire

      Great insights, thanks for taking the edge off my travel paranoia :D