While traveling overseas, you’re probably more focused on having a good time than potential dangers lurking around the next corner. However, being aware of common hazards and ways to protect yourself against them is the best way to make sure a problem doesn’t derail your fun abroad. Consider these tips to protect yourself on your next international vacation.
Protect Bags From Thieves
Image via Flickr by Gareth1953 All Right Now
Thieves are an obvious threat that weigh on many travelers’ minds. While thieves can and do target tourists, there are several ways to minimize your risk of becoming a victim.
Don’t give the appearance you have something to steal. Leave your favorite designer bag at home, don’t wear flashy jewelry, and keep electronics and other desirable items out of view. Walk with confidence without the aid of a map. Always be conscious of your environment, especially when frequenting areas thieves target tourists like metro stations. That means putting your phone away and headphones off your ears. Choose bags with locks, slash-proof straps, and other security features to foil thieves.
If your bag is snatched, contact local authorities right away to report the crime. You’ll typically need a police statement to claim on your travel insurance. Contact your local embassy if you’ve lost your passport or other travel documents and your bank or credit card provider if your bank cards are stolen. Most financial institutions have international numbers to help customers traveling overseas.
Use RFID Accessories to Prevent Credit Card Theft
We love making contactless payments, but this convenience also leaves our credit cards vulnerable. They’re made using RFID chips, which can be read by canny thieves without them ever leaving your possession.
RFID bags and wallets act as a protective barrier between your credit cards and would-be thieves, ensuring your cards can’t be scanned until you want them to.
Remember that cards are still vulnerable when they’re removed from your wallet, so monitor your statements closely. If you notice unusual transactions, contact your credit card provider’s international service center.
Take Caution With Food
Sampling local delicacies is one of the greatest joys of international travel, but exercise caution before you chow down. The World Health Organization estimates 2 million people die every year after consuming foods or drinking water contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical nasties.
Even popular tourist areas may not have the same food safety guidelines as American establishments. Skip food that sits at room temp, and opt for hot or cold dishes instead. They’re less likely to be contaminated by bacteria. That means steering clear of buffets. Wash your hands with soap or a hand sanitizer before eating.
Be even more vigilant in remote locations. Avoid anything raw or rare, like rare meats, raw fruits and salads, eggs with runny yolks, and foods made with raw eggs like fresh mayonnaise. Hot dishes are better as the heat can kill any contaminants. Avoid the exotic dishes and buy from restaurants rather than roadside vendors.
At best, contaminated food can give you diarrhea. Remember to drink plenty of safe fluids to replenish what your body loses. Some severe cases of food poisoning may require hospitalization. Comprehensive travel medical insurance will make sure you’re not left with a large bill.
Beware of Unsealed Water
We think of water as the elixir of life, but it can be contaminated just as food can. Err on the side of caution and only drink water from sealed bottles. You’ll need to think beyond drinking and consider water in all forms though. Ice cubes and well water used for washing up can both be just as dangerous. Large restaurants are more likely to use a sanitary dishwasher than hole-in-the-wall eateries, so don’t veer too far off the tourist track in remote areas.
Contaminated water impacts the body just like contaminated food. Drink more of that bottled water to combat diarrhea, and claim on your medical insurance if you need hospitalization.
You might think you’ll never find yourself in one of these situations, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Put safety first to minimize the risks while you’re abroad.