With vacation season approaching, you may be looking forward to a luxury trip to an exclusive resort or a no-expense-spared chic city stay. However you travel, however, and no matter how many stars your accommodation has, it’s still vital to be vigilant to protect yourself and your possessions when you’re traveling.
Use the guide below to stay safe wherever you are on the globe, and minimize the risk of an unhappy incident ruining your vacation.
No matter where you are, the risk of identity theft is ever-present, and criminals are using increasingly sophisticated means to get hold of your personal details, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Take steps to guard against this by, for example, using the safe provided in your hotel room to keep your passports and any other devices or important documents when not in use. Only use trusted wifi connections - you may wish to install a VPN (a virtual private network) on your device before you leave for your vacation to allow for safer web browsing while you’re away.
When you’re shopping, consider using cash rather than a payment card, if possible, and, in all cases, keep all receipts. Finally, be wary of fake police. Tourists have been caught up in identity theft scams whereby they’ve been approached by individuals claiming to be members of the police force and been asked for their passport - which is then stolen. If you are approached by the police, take what steps you can to confirm their identity - this could take the form of calling the local police station, for example. If you are the victim of identity theft, have a look here for the 10 things to do if your identity is stolen; these steps include making a report to the Federal Trade Commission and contacting the credit bureaus.
If you want to take additional measures to protect your identity, consider using an identity theft protection service. A popular choice is LifeLock, but there are other options available. Home Security Heroes, for instance, tested and ranked all the alternatives to LifeLock to help you choose the best one for your needs. When it comes to protecting your personal information, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Gaining a good understanding of the location you’ll be jetting off to on vacation is vital to staying safe while you’re away - and an understanding of the culture can enrich your holiday experiences, too.
Regarding staying safe, key things to find out about before you leave include the local customs, etiquette, and laws, and learning if any areas are considered less safe for tourists to venture. This can prevent you from accidentally straying into a part of town that isn’t the most reputable.
It’s also advisable to research any known or common scams or crimes that may be prevalent in the country or city you’ll be traveling to and to stay abreast of any political affairs that could result in potential turbulence and unrest.
When you’re out and about, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your money and belongings. Take your wallet out as little as possible; instead, keep a small amount of cash on you or in a compartment of your luggage to use for small purchases. Jewelry and other items of value should be kept in the hotel safe.
Using a money belt worn under your jacket is a good idea, as is keeping your wallet in the inner lining of your jacket to prevent it from being pickpocketed.
Maintaining an awareness of the people and things going on around you at all times, however engrossing the sights are, is one of the best ways to stay safe on your travels, and you should avoid traveling solo if you can. Keep a map of the city on you at all times so that you can easily navigate without needing to ask a stranger for directions.
It’s wise to keep the contact number of the local authorities on you; in the case that you are the victim of a crime, report the details immediately. Avoid walking around once night falls, and be sure to obey any curfews that are in place.
Depending on the country you’ll be holidaying in, you may be at extra risk if you decide to use an ATM to withdraw cash. Some machines are fake or incorporate magnetic strips that are used to harvest your card’s details…which are then used to raid your account.
It’s safest, wherever possible, to only use ATMs located at - and ideally inside the building of - established branches and banks.
If you’re planning on doing some hiking or out-of-town exploring while you’re away, then telling someone where you’re going is vital - this means that if you don’t return as you’ve gotten into trouble, the emergency services can be informed and help can be sent out.
Let friends or your accommodation manager know exactly where you’re going and when you plan to be back. There are apps available for download, too, that automatically check in with your location so that your loved ones at home can see exactly where you are at any given time.
And lastly - listen to your gut. If something, a person, or a situation feels off in any way, then get away and to a place of safety as soon as you can. Don’t worry about appearing rude - it’s better to be safe than sorry, and, in the majority of cases, if your internal warning bells are ringing, they’re probably right.