The world is a pretty safe place to travel, but it’s always worth doing your research to make sure you keep safe, aware and can travel with confidence. By doing your research and following security advice, you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest, safe in the knowledge that you’re less likely to be outwitted by a scam, or you’ll know exactly what to do if you fall ill.
So here are my tips to up your holiday game and travel savvy.
1. Do your research
Before you book your holiday and travel, consult with the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office to check if there are any current warnings for the destination you're choosing to holiday in. Generally, these official resources will verge on the super cautious side and it doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t travel to the destination, but it serves as a good source of information to help make your travel decisions.
And remember, news reports can be sensationalised to a degree to create more newsworthy headlines. Bad things do happen in the world, but there can also be a misleading representation of the facts in the media. Keep in mind the rewards of travel as, for the most part, you are likely to encounter nothing but kindness, compassion and friendliness.
You will also want to be mindful of any health advisories that may require you to have inoculations, so dedicate plenty of time to your research.
2. Stock up on travel apps
There are so many travel apps out there which will help make your travels much easier, fun and safer. Here are some of the handiest ones:
bSafe: Nominate a friend or family member to download the app too so they can trace where you are when you travel. There’s even a siren feature to deter would-be criminals, and you can set up a fake call to get yourself out of any sticky situations. If you need to raise an SOS you can use the voice activation feature to alert your friend, who can then contact the local police to assist you.
Uber: Available in approximately 84 countries and over 800 cities, Uber’s on-demand taxi service comes in useful when you’re abroad. You can book, track the taxi’s location, and pay by card.
Citymapper: This is the app you need if you’re using public transport. It helps direct you to the station, informs you of the bus and subway times and will even tell you when you need to get off to reach your destination.
Travel Risk Map: Research the safety of your destination according to medical updates, road safety and security risk. The newsroom alert feature will inform you of important local breaking news too.
Google Translate: Useful for day-to-day communications, you can also plan for emergencies by translating certain phrases.
3. Secure and lock away your valuables
Only travel with the essentials, and leave any valuables, such as jewellery, at home. Keep essentials such as money, camera or laptop safe by investing in a slash-proof, lockable backpack so it cannot be tampered with.
4. Purchase a decent travel insurance policy
Just knowing that you have adequate cover for your belongings is a stress reliever in itself, as you are assured that should any of your items go astray, they will be replaced.
Research the terms and conditions carefully so you know that everything will be covered.
5. Ask locals for advice
The people who are really in the know are the locals, who will be able to advise you as to which areas you are safe to roam, and which - if any - to avoid.
The front of house staff at your resort are usually great sources of information. It’s also a good opportunity to ask roughly how much taxis will cost so you can make sure you have enough cash with you while out and about.
6. Remember, while they say sharing is caring, it’s not always the case
Don’t give away too much information about your travel plans to strangers, and don’t promote your holiday on social media as you don't want everyone knowing your house is empty while you're away.
If your insurer finds evidence that you shared details of your holiday plans publicly on the likes of Facebook, before you go away or while out on holiday, your house insurance may be invalidated in the case of any break in during your holiday period. It's best to keep things vague, and only share your holiday snaps online once you're home. Besides, you have a holiday to enjoy!
When you’re off exploring, if anyone asks where you are staying, again keep it vague by just mentioning the area you’re staying in, or if you feel uncomfortable in the situation, provide a different hotel name.
While it sounds overly cautious, it pays to be careful, especially if it’s your first visit to the destination.
7. Plan your wardrobe carefully
Wearing the wrong thing while you’re out exploring can instantly scream tourist, and it’s always important to be respectful to other cultures and customs. Try and be more conservative with your holiday wardrobe if the culture leans towards it. Use this guide as a handy starting point for packing.
8. Pay more attention to flight times
Searching for flights can unleash the bargain hunter in all of us, but while considering price, you should also check out flight arrival times to make sure you are able to get around easily once you land. Landing in the middle of the night can make it more difficult to navigate if you’re hiring a car or using public transport to get to your hotel or resort.
9. Wander with confidence and purpose
Our body language often communicates more than verbal conversation does, so when you wander, keep your head held high and be aware and alert of your surroundings. Projecting some situational awareness and confidence will reduce the chances of you becoming a victim of crime.
Study a map carefully before you leave your hotel so you know exactly where you’re going. And if you happen to take a wrong turn and get lost, pop into a café to discreetly check your map before continuing your journey.
While we recommend against walking along with earbuds in to listen to music, you could use one ear bud to listen to Google map directions rather than staring down at your phone which is more distracting.
10. Inform your bank you’re travelling
You don’t want to land at your destination and try and use your debit or credit card, only to discover they’ve been locked down. This can take a few days to resolve, so make sure you keep your bank in the loop and let them know you’re travelling. This is really straightforward if you use online banking services.
11. Keep good records and a stash of cash
You don’t want to head out in the day with all your cash on you, so it’s wise to keep some emergency cash in a safe place in case you need it.
Things like empty sun lotion and lipstick containers make good hiding places - though make sure you don't accidentally throw them away! Or you could also sew an extra secret pocket on the inside of your trousers or use a money belt to store some funds in case your bag is stolen.
It’s also worth storing copies of your cards and passport on your cloud storage account - as well as hard copies in your safe or room - so if anything does get lost or stolen, you have all your information to hand for the faster turnaround of replacements.
If your passport does disappear, it’s also good practice to visit the relevant embassy for your nationality, who will be able to assist you.
12. Practice food and water safety
If you have allergies, carry a translated card with you to communicate your needs so you can ensure an enjoyable dining experience. Look for popular places to eat - or do a little research online before you travel out - and if you’re thinking of eating fruit, opt for peelable fruits to avoid bacteria.
You can also purchase some food supplements which strengthens the immunity of your digestive system for when you sample new foods. Bimuno® Travelaid is one such supplement you take daily to build the friendly bacteria in your system and avoid any stomach upset. Start taking a week before you travel to maximise your immunity.
And while we’re always told to buy bottled water when we travel, this does huge damage to the environment. Purchase a filtered water bottle to save a few pounds, and help the environment at the same time. And remember, salads are likely to have been washed in unfiltered tap water, while ice cubes for your drinks will be frozen tap water - so best to avoid these if you know you have a sensitive stomach.
13. Pack a first aid kit
Pack a mini first aid kit which won’t take up too much of your luggage space and, if you injure yourself on holiday or fall ill, at least you have the basics to hand to help the situation. Include waterproof plasters, sunscreen, re-hydration salts, allergy tablets and some extra pain killers, just in case. And always book travel insurance before you set out on holiday.
14. Prepare an emergency plan
If you fall ill on holiday you don’t want to be scrambling around looking for a medical centre, so take a look for the nearest doctors, hospitals and pharmacy to your hotel, just in case.
15. Trust your instincts
As humans we’re all built with that fight or flight mechanism, so if you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and don’t pass them off as irrational fear. Stop and analyse the situation and what might be causing these feelings and act accordingly.
16. Swot up on tourist scams
Scams are always changing, and seem to grow more elaborate as scam artists attempt to find new ways to steal. Here are some of the latest tricks to be aware of, but you should regularly check on how to outsmart the con artists. When you’re in crowds, at the ATM, in a taxi… these are all key places that you need to practise some self-awareness.
Also, with technology evolving, you may want to purchase a credit card protector which will stop your cards being scanned without your knowledge.
17. Protect your privacy
If you’re always online on holiday, you may want to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your privacy when using Wi-Fi in your hotel or a café, as it blocks the data that you send over the network. It is a paid-for service, but as you can’t put a price on protection from fraudsters, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Here are 100 of the best VPNs with reviews so you can make a more informed decision on which one to use. Alternatively, go for a bit of a digital detox as you are on holiday, after all, and just use the safety apps, if you should need them of course.
Book with RCI for peace of mind
RCI’s Business Development Team work closely with resorts to ensure health and safety compliance. The stringent set of RCI guidelines which resorts must adhere to also plays a part in the determination of a resort's RCI quality award status.
Remember when booking your exchange, to protect your break with Trading Power or Points Protection. If you should have to cancel your break for any reason, you won’t lose your Trading Power and Points, and your Exchange Fee will be refunded, so you can re-book your exchange holiday at a later date.
Now you have all the tips you need to stay safe on holiday, why not put them to good use? Click on the RCI Resort Directory below and book your accommodation for your next holiday.
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