Many people keep asking me tips on staying safe while traveling abroad. Many times, a vacation overseas is very safe, and filled with many memories. However, many people and children get scared when they hear about some of the things happening on the news. That makes parents wonder is they should change their plans. In fact, never traveling can be more dangerous than keeping you kids cooped up at home. Here are some tips for keeping you and your family safe while you travel abroad this year.
- Do some research. You can check the State Department’s website to see what they have to say about a specific location you are planning on visiting. They will have serious advice telling you if you shouldn’t go there. If the State Department says not to visit a location, don’t go. If you hear a family member talking about going, advise them to choose a different destination.
- Get in touch with the Embassy. You can let the Embassy know when you are traveling so they can get in touch with you in case there is a natural disaster or terrorist event. This is called the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. They will also help you get the help you need to get you out of a bad situation.
- Pay attention to local news. Be sure to watch the news or find an English language source to follow the news while you are traveling. You can also use social media like Twitter or Facebook. You may not always be able to find the most accurate information, especially if you don’t speak the language of the area you are traveling. However, you should be able to get information about protests, riots, large crowds and other dangers and what areas to avoid that day. Never follow a crowd. You don’t know what kind of situation you can find yourself in.
- Quiz your kids. Have your children direct the family to the hotel or place you are staying. Ask them where you all will meet if anyone gets separated at each location you visit. Make sure they know where to be, and know your phone numbers just in case they are lost without a phone.
- Always have a fully-charged phone. When you are traveling in a different country, it is best for each member of the family to have a phone. You can also get portable chargers for each member of the family, just in case. If there is a large emergency and the phone system is overloaded, make sure your children know what to do. Tell young children to find a police officer and wait in a designated area. Older teens should be able to find their way home if you haven’t gone too far.
- Get photos of every family member before you leave the hotel. A current photo that shows the exact outfit your child or travel partner is wearing will help police or strangers help you find each other more quickly. Make sure everyone you are traveling with gets the photos just in case.
- Always think ahead. While it can be stressful to think about the worst case scenarios, it is also what keeps you prepared to act if something does happen. This will also make you feel more comfortable in your travels. If you know you have planned for just about any catastrophe life can throw your way, you can trust to have a great time no matter what happens. Talking with family and travel partners about your plans will give everyone more power to feel comfortable and enjoy their time abroad.
- Keep everyone’s wallets stocked. Everyone should carry identification cards. Each person should also have enough local currency to afford a cab ride home. Print out cards that tell somebody who finds your wallet where to leave it for you. Write down important information like phone numbers, addresses, and even an emergency plan to help children feel safer.
- Terrorists are the least of your worries. Don’t forget to worry a bit about the things that will really keep your family safe in your travels. Make sure everyone has the right vaccinations when traveling to specific locations. Check with your insurance company to see if you have medical evacuation insurance, or buy a separate traveler’s insurance plan. Follow all of the safety rules you follow at home, even if other people aren’t.
When in Rome, be safer than the Romans are. Be vigilant and monitor the area around you. Finally, just because you see other people drinking the water doesn’t mean you should. Water in some places can make you sick because you haven’t built up a resistance to a specific bacteria. If you are still feeling nervous about your future travel plans, get more safe travel tips.