Contrary to a popular marketing slogan ‘The world is not your backyard!’ One of the few times people become truly exposed to danger is when they leave the familiar surrounding of home and travel to places anew in search of adventure or business. Some parts of the world are inherently more risky than others. These places change with the political winds, so apprise yourself of the latest situations before venturing into any regions that you do not know to be politically stable. The consular offices of major governments are good sources of current information in this regard: Assess your risk level regardless of how often you travel generally speaking. If you are not a regular traveller then evaluate your exposure e.g. a woman is more at risk than a man, a weak person more at risk than a strong one, and a tourist more at risk than a local. It’s in every travellers interest to protect themselves and their possessions during travel. Failing that, it’s in every travellers interest to minimize disruption to their travel or ensure their safe and quick return home should the worst happen. These are Welcome Centre Hotels Top Ten Tips to Travel Safe.
- Buy Travel Insurance – The best single tip for any traveller is to buy travel insurance before undertaking any trip. Travel insurance schemes exists to protect you from the financial impacts of lost luggage, illness, medical expenses, lost and cancelled flights, damaged effect etc. Travel insurance schemes will usually only cover you up to a certain amount of cash if it’s lost or stolen. This is typically between £200 and £500, so if you’re carrying much more than that you run the risk of losing your money altogether. Check your insurance policy so you know what you’ll be covered for. Its easy to buy travel insurance as most Airlines offer travel insurance when playing for your ticket, you can also buy travel insurance from my online travel agents or dedicated travel insurance companies. Quite a few providers also cover for pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension so check what you are covered for as any existing health problems will not be covered unless you inform your insurance company about them. etc Try www.worldwideinsure.com/international-travel-health-insurance.htm or www.imglobal.com. However remember some activities, such as bungee jumping, diving, horse riding, jet skiing, paragliding and snowboarding are unlikely to be covered by your insurance unless you specifically request coverage for these activities.
- Protect your money – When it comes to foreign exchange (fx) always best to sort out your fx before you leave for your destination. Not only do you get better rates sorting out your fx before you get to the airport but you avoid fumbling with large amounts of cash at a stressful and busy place such as an airport. Do not under any circumstances exchange money illegally – use a bank or official currency exchange . Spread your money risk by taking your cash in different forms such as credit cards and travellers cheques. Take only the personal credit and debit cards you need; leave the rest at home. You can also buy prepaid travel credit cards from sites like www.fairfx.com/thisismoney3_any or https://cards.caxtonfx.com/ which works as the cards are funded with a set amount which limits yours total exposure and doesn’t charge commission for transactions in foreign currency.
Pop quiz – mention the one hotel in Lagos, Nigeria that does it all? Need a clue – watch this video……… pic.twitter.com/i6Lwvokven
— Welcome Centre Hotel (@WelCenHotels) April 22, 2017
When using your card at the ATM, don’t count your cash or rummage through your personal items while standing at the ATM. Use ATMs in hotels or shopping malls as opposed to ATMS at quiet street corners or late at night. When you must carry cash, carry only the amount that you expect to need for the day. Don’t flaunt large amounts of cash in public and exercise caution when exchanging money for local currency. Traveller cheques are also great because if they are stolen they can be easily cancelled but always check before flying if the key vendors at your destination accept traveller cheques. The most important rule of the road is to make sure you keep your money, credit and debit cards, and passport in a money pouch at all times while you’re out and about. We don’t recommend carrying anything valuable in a purse, which is too easily snatched, or a backpack, which can be opened without your noticing. Even a wallet kept in your front pocket can be lifted by an experienced pickpocket. You can buy money pouches at www.magellans.com. Try not to carry all of your valuables in the same place. If you’re travelling with a companion, make sure each of you has some cash and a credit card on hand in case you’re split up or one of you is robbed. If you’re alone, keep a backup credit or debit card in a separate pouch from the one you’ll be using most often. Some travellers carry a dummy wallet stuffed with a few expired credit cards and a few bills to toss on the ground as a diversion when confronted by thieves. Never carry a wallet in a back pocket, and again…never trust all of your valuables to a single location, including a purse
- Research your location and garner local advice – it doesn’t matter how glamorous your destination is….. all cities have no-go areas for tourists. Always refer to your government’s travel advice site (e.g. If visiting Lagos Nigeria check respected guides such as http://www.travelstart.com.ng/ or http://wikitravel.org/en/Lagos) If you visit a country that the FCO advise against travelling to, your insurance is unlikely to cover you. Therefore put the same enthusiasm you use to discover – where to eat and where to go – to also locating social no-no’s or where not to go. Follow the guidance of your host or hotel or travel guide on how best to travel especially at night. Never get into an unmarked taxi. Whenever possible, call for a cab rather than hopping into the nearest vehicle. Always make note of the taxi’s number and driver’s identification, if available. Have a map (a physical one to hand as its better and cheaper than whipping out your expensive smart phone map features) but don’t use it like a typical tourist. The more you look like you know exactly what you’re doing (even if you don’t), the less like a target you become. Best to get to a private cafe, sit down, open out your map and get your bearings. Know the local social norms, don’t flout them as some countries are very conservative so avoid public displays of affection which are not acceptable in some regions. Never take photos of anyone without their permission or of any military or official staff or buildings. Avoid large crowds and public demonstrations as you don’t want to get caught up in any political protests you do not understand or which may turn violent. Road traffic accidents (RTAs) are a major cause of serious injury and death. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.3 million people are killed on roads every year and approximately half of these deaths are pedestrians, cyclists or motor cyclists. So even if you are not planning to drive, you can still be injured as a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist. Poor roads, bad driving, failure to follow road rules, speeding, poorly maintained vehicles, lack of seat belts, or driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol; all increase worldwide accident rates. Lack of emergency services adversely affects your chance of surviving an accident or injury. About 90% of RTA deaths are in poorer regions of the world, where there may be limited or even no medical services. Only use recommended, preferably pre-booked taxis. Check tyres, brakes, lights and safety belts on hire vehicles. Use seat belts and child safety restraints. Avoid night driving, especially on poorly lit roads.
- Don’t flash the bling – We all want to look our best but all tourists need to apply some judgement on when and where to flash the bling. So dress conservatively and remember bling is not just your expensive jewellery or diamond engagement rings; bling is also the latest high end smart phone, expensive cameras, designer handbags, tablets, watches, designer headphones…all easily tradable commodities that gets your typical pickpocket who preys on tourists salivating. Don’t carry an expensive camera on a strap around your neck – you’re only putting yourself and your camera at risk. Whether they’re fumbling through guidebooks or gawking at new sights, tourists are often unaware of their surroundings, making them easy prey for thieves. Tourists are ideal targets for pickpockets because they will not be in the country or area for a long time and will not follow it up with the police. Tourists are even less likely to report incidents or theft. And they are potential jackpots who carry around more cash or hard currency on them than the locals. So unless you are a bad ass like Mr T – we suggest you keep the bling to a minimum.
- Keep loved ones up to date – One of the easiest things you can do when travelling is keep your loved ones in the loop. Before you leave, email your close reliable loved ones with a simplified itinerary of your travel plans including flight details, contact details and accommodation details. It may seem inconsequential but let them know you have arrived, keep them updated and let them know when you are leaving. This way if anything should happen, your loved ones are able to quickly raise the alarm and get to you. It also a good idea to install and update the app ICE (in-case of emergency) on your phones. Click on http://appadvice.com/appguides/show/ice-apps to download these apps.
- Make copies of travel and health documents – Many travellers always think of their money, wallets and maybe jewellery but the most disruption thing to lose could be your passport, health and travel documents. Treat your passport, driver’s license, credit cards and airlines tickets as if they were cash and protect them accordingly. It’s always best to make copies of your supporting documents such as passports, driver’s license, credit cards, ATM cards and any other important documents you might be carrying. Obviously keep original and photocopies in entirely different places. If you don’t want to carry loads of paper around you can scan your documents into a computer as a PDF file and e-mail it to yourself, allowing you access to your documents from wherever you have an internet connection. If you get robbed, at least you will have the copies of identity to help establish your identity with local authorities and copies of credit cards to be able to quickly block all fraudulent transactions. These days travel documents are easily re-printed from the airlines’ website but you can do without the hassle of sorting out lost passport documents are your country’s consulate offices.
- Use your safe and your locks – Choose a reputable hotel with a good safety record. Some hotels now offer women-only floors. Ask for a room above the ground floor, near the elevator. Use your first initial instead of your first name when signing in. Or sign in as Mr. and Mrs. when you arrive in your room, secure the windows and adjoining and balcony doors; check the room thoroughly before locking yourself in. Jam in your door with a chair if needed but consider the need to hasty exit because if you panic when you hear the fire alarm, you might have trouble opening the door yourself. Check fire exits in clubs, discos and hotels/accommodation. Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door when you’re gone or better still leave the television or radio on when you’re gone to give the illusion that the room is occupied. Doing so won’t necessarily stop a determined burglar, but most will move on to the next room rather than take the chance. If your hotel is swanky enough to have safe deposit box in the room, then use it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help setting it up but do test you can lock and re-open your hotel safe before placing all your valuables inside. When in your hotel room or guest house, always double-lock your doors and deploy chains whilst you are in the room, Use the door view finder before allowing anyone into your room, Never carry hotel keys outside of hotel. Be sure to give it directly to the desk clerk when you go out of the hotel; Do not simply leave it on the counter and always return your key when checking out. Close the door of your room when leaving even if it is for a short period of time. Then try to open the door to verify that it is locked, Keep the door locked whilst you are in your room. Never leave money, cameras, computers or other valuables out in the open in your hotel room. Tucking your valuables into a closet or sticking them in a drawer is better than leaving them out in the open. Notify the manager immediately of any unusual occurrences such as persons loitering in the corridor, repeated phone calls from persons who do not identify themselves, knocking on your door by persons unknown to you, or finding no one at the door when you answer it. Never permit repairmen, window washers etc into your room without checking first with hotel management.
- Carry your prescription and watch your alcohol intake – Order and carry extra prescription drugs with you when you travel. Your prescription stays with you at all times of your travel, never in your checked in luggage. One of the worst and most dangerous things that can happen is when you keep your prescription drugs in your checked-in luggage and you become the victim of lost or ransacked luggage.
So keep your a supply of your drugs in your hand luggage and take copies or backup of your doctors signed prescription with you. Even take note of your prescription for eyesight e.g. you would not want to lose your glasses or contacts during your vacation. For travellers, the most serious hazard is usually not illness, but accidents and injuries. Falls from balconies are a common cause of serious injury and death. Alcohol is a frequent factor in such accidents, as it can affect judgement and lower your inhibitions. Never drink and swim as drowning came second to RTAs as a cause of death for travellers. Even when sober do not swim alone and always check water depth before diving. Never smoke in bed and do not leave candles or open flames unattended
- Be careful who you socialize with – Some of us like to play it safe, others like to take that crazy walk on the wide side. Avoid talking to strangers who approach you in the street or on public transport. Travel is one of those times people get to let loose and have some wild fun they wouldn’t normally have at home but you also be to take special care especially when meeting strangers…you never know their real agendas. Never tell anyone that you’re travelling alone. Lie if you have to — society will forgive you these white lies e.g. If someone approaches you and asks, “Is this your first time in Lagos?” respond with “No, we visit often. We love it here!” The stranger’s request is probably genuine, but there’s no need to advertise your vulnerability. Just be wary of the new friends you make, especially anyone not introduced by a business associate. When socializing with new people take simple precautions like never let your drink out of your sight, don’t accept food or drinks from people you do not know, don’t share too much personal information, don’t invite strangers back into your room and certainly don’t go alone to theirs either. Your vigilance should start from the beginning of your journey, don’t let your luggage out of your sight and certainly do not help people carry luggage. There are cases where smugglers have made unsuspecting friends at the airport or on the plane and used them unwittingly to smuggle things into the country.
- How to deal with the worst – Don’t resist mugging. Despite your best efforts, sometimes bad luck catches up with even the best-prepared travellers. If you have the misfortune of being accosted, do not resist. Hand over the requested items, and leave the scene as quickly as possible. It is better to lose a few euros than to risk being injured. Report the incident to authorities, but don’t expect the issue to be resolved. Petty crimes can be difficult to solve even when locals are victimized. Grab a hotel postcard from the counter with the hotel’s name, address, and phone number. Keep it with you. Write down the emergency contact details of your credit card and travel insurance on your hotel postcard.