How to Stay Safe While Traveling

This is my post that was originally published on The Huffington Post.

Admit it.

How to stay safe while traveling may be on your mind. Right? With attacks happening at popular destinations, you may be too scared to travel. But don’t allow fear to ground you. Don’t allow others to take away your power.

Traveling the world or even throughout your own country is a great way to enhance your life. You can meet new people. Learn new things and immerse yourself within rich cultural experiences.

Let’s face it; the world is a wonky place right now. People are fed up with their lives and maybe even the politics and policies of other countries. Thus, they act out and wreak havoc wherever they go. It’s sad.

Unfortunately, you have no control over the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions of others. You can only be responsible for you. If you give into others, you’ll only strengthen their control over you. You don’t want that, do you?

I understand that travel may seem scary to you.

When I told my mom and dad that I was solo traveling to the UK, my dad, who served in the U.S. Army, almost had a heart attack. He didn’t want me traveling alone. Why? Because if something happened, he felt that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. After all, he served in the U.S. Army and I didn’t.

While I appreciated my dad’s concern, I knew I would be okay. Why? Because I have street and books smarts.

But my dad traveled with me to the UK. It was the first and only trip we took together. But that’s for another blog post about traveling with family.

Read on to discover how you can stay safe while traveling. You don’t have to remain at home in bed with the covers thrown over you. You can experience safe travels!

7 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It may seem like common sense, but make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. This is a good way to stay safe while traveling. When you leave your hotel, observe everyone around you. Does anyone look suspicious? Do you see anything that looks suspicious, like a briefcase sitting by an elevator? According to the U.S. State Department’s website, “U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.”

Enroll in Survival Courses

If you haven’t taken a survival course, you may want to consider it. Why? Because the skills you learn could save your life and the lives of others. Not only can you learn how to survive outdoors, but you can learn CPR and other first-aid procedures. There are many outdoor survival schools found throughout the U.S. and online. Cost of courses range from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Travel in Groups

You’ve heard the phrase, “Safety in numbers,” right? Traveling in groups is another way for you to stay safe while traveling. If you’re feeling somewhat insecure about your trip, having others around you can help you to stay positive. Keep in mind that you may travel with a group of people are professionals such as doctors and nurses who can help if disaster strikes.

Know Where You’re Going

When you’re traveling, especially abroad, know where you’re going. Download travel apps to your smartphone such as GPS, navigator, language translator and more. If you’re unsure how to get somewhere, ask the front desk personnel at your hotel for directions. Most hotels offer maps so you can easily find your way throughout a city [don’t stop to read a map – be discreet]. You may consider sightseeing and participating in travel excursions during the day if you’re nervous about traveling at night.

Pay Attention to TSA Alerts

Want to stay safe while traveling? Pay attention to TSA alerts and warnings. You may change your mind about traveling to a country that has a warning. Why? Because the government may be unstable or there could be frequent terrorist attacks. Keep in mind that some warnings have been in place for years. An alert is short term. Perhaps a country has an election year that may cause demonstrations or disturbances. Or a health alert issued. Warnings and alerts give you information so that you can make the best decision for you. Whether you travel is up to you.

Try to Blending-In Instead of Sticking Out

You may want to blend-in with the locals. When I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland in August 2007 [too long ago], I blended in. In fact, a sales associate at a clothing store asked me if I wanted to open a “charge” [credit card]. I leaned forward and whispered, “Thanks. But I’m from The States.” She
apologized but there was no need for her to do so. I was happy to blend-in so that the locals thought I was one of them. And it may also help you to stay safe while traveling. Why? Because you won’t stick out like a tourist, some of which become targets for pick pocketing.

Pray for Peaceful and Smooth Travels

Do you believe in the power of power? It could help you to stay safe while traveling. But you have to mean and feel the words you say. For example, you could say, “God [insert whatever term you’d like], please bless my travels and keep me and those I travel with safe from harm. Please bless and protect me and those around me, and the world in general. Let us all have peaceful and safe travels. Amen.” Not only does the power of pray work, but it can help you to remain calm throughout your trip.

Review Travel Safety Tips Before Traveling

Imagine packing for your vacation. You’re excited to get away and create new travel memories.
Before you leave, you review travel safety tips. They put you at ease. And you, being a smart traveler, know that you can’t control everything in your life.

You take a deep breath and remain centered in the thought that you can experience peaceful travels.

Sound good?

Of course it does!

But to have even more peace of mind, give family and friends a copy of your travel itinerary. And stay in touch with them as you travel.

Also, you may want to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The program allows you to:

  • Tell local U.S. embassies and consulates about your trip.
  • Gives you important information about safety conditions in your travel destination.
  • Helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in the case of an emergency.
  • Assists family and friends with contacting you in case of an emergency.

Remember the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Traveling may seem scary. Follow this post and you won’t be afraid anymore. Travel on!