Travelling brings with it a wealth of experiences, but it also means leaving behind the safety nets of home. There is always some risk involved in going to an unfamiliar place where you’ll have limited access to friends, family and assistance.
But there are a number of ways to better ensure you have a safe trip, whether you’re a thrill-seeker or plan to lie on beach soaking up the sun for a few weeks.
Do you really need travel insurance? Think of it this way, travel insurance can reimburse you for the unexpected emergencies you can encounter while travelling, including getting caught in a natural disaster, having to go to hospital or your luggage being stolen. All of these situations can leave you hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Travel insurance can also help arrange medical assistance and repatriation to Australia during an emergency, something the government is unable to help you with. As the popular saying goes, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Not all travel insurance policies are created equal, so be sure to take some time to find the right one for you. You will need cover for medical expenses, luggage and cancellations as these are some of the most common issues travelers run into. Some insurers will offer similar cover at different prices, so it’s worth shopping around. Also remember that booking with a travel agent or airline can be far more expensive!
Some insurers like Fast Cover automatically cover a range of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy and high blood pressure. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that is not covered by your insurer, you won’t be covered for any emergencies relating to the condition.
Travel insurers also vary in the activities they cover. So if you plan to do some bungee jumping, snorkeling, elephant riding or any other activity, see if you’re covered if you become injured while doing it.
A Small, Trusty Backpack
When you travel solo you should have one small backpack which you can lock your most valuable possessions in (though of course you should try to not have any valuable items on you while travelling!)
Your small day bag should be able to fit important items including your passport, camera, phone, medication, credit cards and other valuable equipment. If it’s small you should be able to keep it on you at all times on your day trips, bus tours, cars or tuk tuks. You will never have to lose sight of it!
A Back up Stash of Money
A back up stash of money can get you out of a number of tough situations. It means you can pay for alternative accommodation if you find the one you originally chose doesn’t live up to the images you saw online. You can pay for the occasional taxi ride and have access to spare cash if your cards are lost or stolen. If you choose to do an activity like go on a tour or scuba dive, you will have extra money to spend on booking with an organization with a great safety reputation and hundreds of TripAdvisor reviews, rather than a cheaper one. It is always worthwhile to invest in your safety.
A Portable Locker
A ‘portable locker’ or portable safe is a slash-proof bag you can put your valuables in and lock to something in your room which cannot move, such as a pipe. A portable bag is especially worthwhile if you are going to developing countries and staying in accommodation which does not offer great security, meaning no lockers or sturdy, lockable doors. You can put a stash of money, your passport and electronics in the portable locker and know that the belongings you left in your room are protected.
Many Copies of your Documents
Prepare for the worst to happen by imagining your passport, money and any money cards are stolen. What you need in these cases is proof of your identity. So take a few photocopies of all your information and place these copies in different areas, one in your large bag, one in your small backpack and maybe a copy in a jacket pocket. As a precautionary measure, it’s always good to keep an electronic copy you can access by scanning your documents and emailing them to yourself or create a Google Docs or Dropbox file so you can access them anywhere with internet.
Have a Dummy Wallet
Simply fill a cheap or old wallet with a few dollars, cancelled credit cards, old ID’s and maybe an old library card. If someone does steal your wallet or attempt to take it off you, they will most likely run of once they think they have something good and you won’t lose anything valuable.
Social App’s and Itinerary Sharing
It is important to share your itinerary with other people and provide them with updates so they know you’re okay while travelling. As well as talking to people in you accommodation, stay in contact with friends and family via email or handy social app’s such as WeChat, WhatsApp and Skype.
A Simple, Lightweight Wardrobe that Blends in
One way to avoid being targeted by thieves while travelling is to blend in as much as possible with the culture you’re in, rather than look like a tourist. To do this, you can memorise where you are going so you don’t have to look at maps while walking around. You can also research where you are going and dress more like a local. That means forgetting the loose hippy pants and souvenir t-shirts and dressing in the local style, whether that is covering more of your body up as you would in Muslim countries, wearing loose clothing in India or wearing long pants in Europe and Latin America. Flashy jewellery is also not a good idea.
Do you have any tips to share?