Summer has officially (or almost, depending on where you live and polar vortex's) arrived and it's time to get the bathing suit on and the suitcase packed! Coming from a nomadic spirit who is out of the country most of the year, I can personally tell you that while traveling is fun, and exciting, and adventurous, I have had some not so great and even scary experiences happen while abroad due to taking things too "lightly."
I'm not here to "scare" you, but more so here to share my experiences with you so you can learn from my mistakes and stay safe on your journey.
Here are a few of my top safety travel tips for you:
And no, I'm not talking about the cute boy sitting on the plane next to you. Make sure you have all of the appropriate numbers saved in a note in your phone, your email, and written down just in case your phone dies or you don't have internet access. Have the phone numbers to your accommodations, the US Embassy, emergency services, and any trusted friends you've made along the way. Take appropriate precautions and make sure you can get ahold of emergency contacts, just in case.
Maximize your travel experience by first of all, packing light. The less stuff you bring, the less stuff you have to worry about losing. Despite the fact that your airline losing your luggage is at an all-time low risk, it still happens, and I always recommend travelers to bring a carry on to avoid the hassle of checking a bag. Try to stick to only packing what you need - don't pack your favorite pair of diamond earrings or your expensive Gucci bag. Whatever you bring on your trip, just assume like you won't have it at the end so worst case scenario, you won't be disappointed if it gets lost or stolen. Check out a good travelers pack list, here.
Remember, you'll end up using less than you think, and you'll be glad you packed lighter, especially if you're carrying everything on your back.
While packing light is necessary, don't forget some of the most important items. First of all, make sure you can charge all of your devices so you're not stuck without a phone, camera, computer, or mode of communication. I highly recommend bringing an adaptor and a power bank. Check out this one here, that provides both of those in one sleek unit.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol
At least excessively. Coming from a girl who likes to have a good time and her "claim to fame" is how much she can drink without getting drunk (I'm Irish), I super limit the amount of alcohol I have and almost never allow myself to drink while abroad. Especially if you're solo traveling, just remember that if something bad happens, you're totally on your own. If you get drunk at a club and some guy tries to take you home, your best friend isn't there by your side to hold your hand and tell that guy to scram.
Safeguard your IdentityPexels
This isn't something that college students often think about — if they think about it at all. When it comes to financial matters, most college students are more focused on student loans, getting their first credit cards, and saving money in their bank accounts. However, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, with college students being one of the most vulnerable victims. While you're traveling abroad, take special measures to ensure all those credit card applications coming into your mail are being properly received or disposed of until you're home. This is one of the easiest ways for thieves to steal college students identifies. Additionally, take other appropriate steps such as calling your credit card companies/banks to let them know where you're going, use appropriate ATM's that don't look tampered with, and don't let your credit cards out of your sight... EVER. As a frequent solo traveler, I invested in getting identity theft protection, which ended up saving my life (or my identity's life) when someone actually attempted to steal my identity while I was abroad in Thailand. Check out some different options on identity theft, here.
Take pictures of your credit cards and other important documents
This is a pro tip that I learned after leaving the country a few times. I used to take physical copies of my passport and ID, but after losing the physical copies, I realized it would be much more convenient to have access to them via the cloud. Take photos of all of your credit and debit cards so you can see the numbers, as well as your ID and passport. Next, email all of these photos to yourself so you can access them anywhere in the world from the web. Additionally, I keep a 'note' in my phone, only accessible via my thumbprint, that has all of this information so I can access this information if I don't have access to my email.
Trust your intuition and don't ever second guess yourselfUnsplash
I know this sounds obvious, but NEVER do anything that your gut is telling you not to. For example, while I was in Bali last month, I used an app similar to Uber called GOJEK to get a ride. For some reason, I felt weird about the entire situation. The driver had a perfect five- star record which you don't ever see, and as soon as he arrived he asked me and my friend for a little more money to "avoid the driving mafia," which seemed sketchy in itself, but we agreed since we were in a hurry. As soon as we got into the vehicle, the driver wouldn't stop trying to sell us on using his uncle's company to book a boat to a nearby island. We said we didn't want to book until we arrived at the ferry port to look at our other options, and he continued to tell us he wouldn't take us any further unless we agreed to book with his uncle. Sketchy much? Which brings me to my next point:
Lie if you have to
My friend and I became genuinely scared that the Go-Jek driver was going to take us somewhere private and beat us up and steal our money if we didn't agree to book our ferry tickets with his uncle. He was getting heated, and we were genuinely scared, so as my fight or flight instincts kicked in, I knew I needed to calm the situation down and simply agree to booking with him and act casual. As soon as we arrived to the ferry port, we ran away from the Go-Jek driver. I know this situation seems weird and dramatic, but that's what you get when you're in a totally different country with different language barriers and economical circumstances. If you feel like you need to lie to keep yourself safe, then do it.