73 million Americans traveled overseas in 2015. 40 million visited Canada and Mexico, 7.6 million went to Europe, 2.7 million traveled to South America and 1.8 million went to Asia. Only around 350,000 went to Africa.
Traversing the world is fun, but only 22 percent Americans took the time off to travel overseas. Is it because of the fear of the unknown? Or do we think it’s not safe or that we could get robbed abroad? America has almost 320 million people and only 33 million (slightly above 10%) actually ventured outside the North American continent.
Are you thinking about traveling abroad, but is fear holding you back? Here are 7 ways to stay safe when traveling overseas:
1. Blend in, don’t look like a tourist
Attracting attention means potentially attracting pickpockets or worse. You are better off carrying a simple backpack and wearing regular shirts and pants instead of fancy name-brand clothes, leather bags, and flashy jewelry or watches that might be uncommon in the destination you’re traveling to. These things could command attention and possibly create problems for you.
The best ways to get prepared is by learning about the country you are visiting. Find out what are the common problems tourists encounter in that country. A better-informed tourist will know how to blend in with the crowd. Leave all your fancy shoes, clothes, accessories at home. Travel light and maintain a low profile.
2. Don’t get drunk
Discovering local drinks and visiting local bars is a part of the fun of traveling abroad. But if you don’t know your limits you may run into trouble. Getting drunk from over drinking can jeopardize your safety. When intoxicated, your brain is less alert and can misjudge situations, potentially jeopardizing your safety abroad.
3. Be careful where and what you eat
Besides knowing your limits with alcohol, you need to be aware of the food you consume when traveling overseas. If possible don’t drink water with ice. According to the Huffington Post, ice in a high percentage of restaurants contains large amounts of bacteria and in some cases, mold. Be cautious about the food you eat when traveling – try to eat only freshly cooked food. Be extra cautious with cut fruit and ice cream from vendors.
Some people have higher tolerance levels than others. When in doubt don’t eat.
4. Stay healthy
Most importantly, before traveling find out what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations are for the country you are visiting.
For example, there is no risk for yellow fever in Myanmar, so yellow fever shots are not required. If you are traveling to rural Myanmar for over a month you should consider the Japanese encephalitis vaccine. Some African countries require yellow fever shots and prescription medicine to prevent malaria.
Pack hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes when traveling.
5. Know the dangerous areas of the country you are visiting
Read a guide book, study a map and talk to locals to learn which areas in your destination are dangerous. Avoid those areas especially at night. Find out from trusted sources in the country about those areas if you are unable to research before traveling abroad.
6. Watch your belongings
“Never leave your belongings unattended” stays true at the airport, your destination and everywhere in between. In some destinations, it’s important to keep your personal bag on your lap instead of on an empty chair nearby.
Always keep an eye on your belongings. Use the safe deposit box in your hotel room if necessary. We suggest wearing money belts and keeping our passports and credit cards with us at all times if staying in some budget hotels.
7. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of clean water to stay hydrated. It is essential to stay hydrated on planes and while traveling in hot and humid destinations. Dehydration can cause sleepiness, irritability, dizziness, and confusion among other symptoms that can put you in potentially dangerous situations when traveling. Also, if you’re heading to a high altitude destination, such as Denver, Colorado or Quito, Ecuador, it’s important to drink lots of water to prevent from altitude sickness.
Important travel tips:
Use Travelmath’s time difference calculator to find the time difference between your hometown and your travel destination.
Use Travelmath’s currency converter to find the conversion rate. For example US$1 is equivalent to 14.45 Argentine pesos.
Find the nearest airport.
Search for airlines flying to your destination.