Whether you’re heading off on your first solo holiday abroad or feeding your wanderlust with a round-the-world trip, you should exercise some basic rules of caution while globetrotting.
For the most part, travelling is a safe and memorable experience. However, it only takes one pickpocket or wide-eyed scammer to make those memories worth forgetting. Just ask the 400,00 British people who reported their passports missing or stolen during 2017.
To make sure your time away is an enjoyable one, you should employ a number of safety precautions.
Read our guide to keeping safe when travelling abroad, below.
How to keep yourself safe
Before you head for the airport duty-free or set up camp at your boarding gate, you’ll want to thoroughly read up on your destination.
That’s because research is one of the most useful tools for protecting yourself on holiday. Taking the time to learn about the local culture, as well as some language basics, is an important part of this process. For example, if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, being able to communicate with the authorities can make all the difference.
You should also take the time to familiarise yourself with the local area. You can do this by downloading the Google Maps app (or buy a physical map, if you’re old school) and planning your routes beforehand. This could also be useful should you lose your bearings.
You also need to be careful what you post on social media during your time away. More specifically, you should avoid tagging your location – as this could prompt thieves to break into your property back home.
How to keep your belongings safe
First and foremost, you should prioritise your own safety while abroad – that’s a given. However, second to this is taking good care of your personal possessions. One way you can do this from the outset is by only taking essentials with you, such as your phone and credit cards.
But we understand this isn’t always feasible – especially when you’re travelling for long periods of time. So, when your valuables do come exploring with you, be sure not to show them off carelessly to passers-by. You can combat this by investing in a reliable bag for your belongings. This will help to hide expensive belongings from prying eyes and, in turn, make you less of an obvious target.
For an extra layer of security and reassurance, password-protect your phone and enable tracking technology. This will prevent thieves from being able to access your personal data, should it go missing.
We also advise that you avoid using cash, where you can. It might be tempting to carry wads of cash around with you on holiday, but this is a surefire way to attract pickpockets. Instead, consider picking up a solid travel card that can be immediately cancelled if stolen.
What to do when something is stolen
Here at Co-op Insurance, we understand that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, belongings go missing. The key here, however, is to relieve some of the stress in these situations by preparing for the worst.
One of the best ways to prepare is to take out comprehensive travel insurance, which, in turn, will protect the value of your valuables. Many of our policies also allow you to add lost or stolen bags cover as an optional extra.
Regardless of whether you have travel insurance or not, you should make it your priority to contact the local authorities if valuables are stolen. Make sure you know the local emergency numbers before you arrive at your destination. If your card goes missing, you’ll also want to be aware of your bank’s phone number.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones who has their passport stolen, you should contact your nearest British embassy or consulate. They will be able to issue you with an emergency travel document for travel back to the UK, which is covered under certain travel insurance policies.
For more advice on how to keep safe when travelling abroad, read our top tips, below.
- Avoid carrying your passport around with you when you’re out and about. Instead, make a photocopy to take with you and leave the original somewhere safe.
- A common method used by criminals who steal credit card details is to rig ATMs. To avoid having your details stolen, go directly into a bank to withdraw cash.
- If you’re heading out for a meal or some drinks, go out as a group. Looking out for each other is vital to staying safe in an unfamiliar place.
- Stay in touch with your friends and family back home by keeping them updated on your location and travel plans.