Stay safe: 5 tips to ensure smooth sailing on your travels

This guest post on how to Stay Safe on your Travels is written by Anastasia Bell, a freelance writer and blog contributor who loves adventures, dogs and coffee. She keeps most of her work in line with his passions for travel and the outdoors. She dreams of travelling the world and explore different cultures!

When travelling, whether it be your first time or hundredth, it’s always useful to discover a few more tips to make your trip a lot easier. With that being said, here are just five tips you may not have been aware of to ensure smooth sailing on your travels.

#1 Don’t flaunt your valuables

Wherever you are in the world, flaunting your valuables is almost always a bad idea. With so many people to look out for, and so many tourism hot spots being considerably less well-off and underdeveloped than what you’re used to, you’ll stand out as a target if you’re showing off your expensive belongings.

If you do happen to bring any expensive valuable items with you when travelling, keep them safe and concealed. Use safes if possible, and if not, find a secure place to hide your things when you don’t need them. Certainly don’t take them out in public places, as you’ll be quickly highlighting yourself as a target.

#2 Avoid any scammers

Travelling will likely introduce you to certain situations where scammers will attempt to get more money out of you than they should. There are some frequent places this will happen – marketplaces, taxis and money exchanges are the most common offenders – but be sure to stay vigilant at all times.

If you can, be sure to haggle. It’s something many travellers have become accustomed to over the years, with it being necessary in certain situations. If you feel you’re being ripped off, kindly negotiate and try to lower the price you’re paying. Vendors and opportunists often expect a haggler, so don’t feel worried about trying your hand at it.

#3 Know where you’re going at all times

Although you’ll likely want to head off the beaten track at certain points when travelling, it’s crucial you’re always sure of where you’re going and how to get back. Too often do travellers end up lost or in unsafe situations because they haven’t prepared or researched – don’t let it be you.

Make sure you always have a map, whether it be on your phone or the paper version, and don’t head too far into the wilderness – you have no idea what threats could await. If you do want to conquer an area you’re unsure of, see if there’s a tour you can take that’ll allow you to explore safely.

#4 Budget yourself

Don’t leave yourself out of pocket before the end of your trip. Budgeting yourself is essential when travelling – with so much to spend your money on, it’s likely you’ll be unable to keep up with your expenditure if you don’t keep track of it and/or limit yourself during your travels.

Consider having a daily budget in order to ensure you’re allocating your money to the things you need, and not overspending in many areas. A daily budget should account for everything from the necessities – accommodation, food, transport ­– to the leisure and fun, too. And, be sure to leave a decent amount of money aside for any unexpected fees.

#5 Bring medication

It’s important you consider your health on your travels, as many countries abroad harbour risks that could leave you ill, whether it be minor or major. From paracetamol to antiseptic cream, antihistamines to travel sickness tablets, be sure to prepare for any eventuality.

If you have certain special medication you need to bring with you through customs, make sure you liaise beforehand to ensure you’ll be allowed. Otherwise, you could find complications may arise – what with such tight security measures in many airports globally, you’ll need to make your needs clear. Doctor’s notes are often a good accompaniment.

Do you have any more tips to ensure people’s travels go smoothly? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

93 thoughts on “Stay safe: 5 tips to ensure smooth sailing on your travels”

  1. These are all fantastic tips to keeping safe and ensure smooth sailing travels. You know you can even download offline maps from Google, so it makes sure you can still guide yourself in a place even if you don’t have data access. And total yes to not flaunting valuables – in fact I usually leave any precious jewellery at home to ensure nothing happens.

    1. I even prefer not carrying my passport around, when I am out and about, exploring a city!

  2. Fantastic tips and great advice. All about common sense whilst on the roads but its handy to learn all of the scams as well to ensure a great trip. Fantastic post 🙂

  3. These are definitely good tips to ensure a safe trip. I never understand the appeal of wearing costly things when traveling, preferring to keep it simple myself. I might also suggest reading up and researching the scams that are common to an area before visiting. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re being scammed in the heat of the moment.

  4. Very helpful. These tips may sound simple and repetitive but they come in very handy. When I asked for one tip, I often tell people that traveler should always be well informed. You must know about the place, how to reach there, how to return, what are religious sentiments,etc. Being well prepared with the needful always helps too. And there is absolutely no need to flaunt to invite trouble.

    1. I agree, reading up and researching about the places, what to expect, especially in terms of the culture, is very important!

  5. These tips are very helpful! However with the ‘don’t flaunt your valuables’ – it can be difficult when walking around with a DSLR and you’re snapping pics. Budgeting yourself is especially great – it can become very easy to spend on everything you see so it’s important to stay cautious of how much you’re actually spending.

    1. Yeah the phone and DSLR can’t be done without in most cases and we have to be more vigilant. People DO have their cameras and phones stolen quite often!

  6. Great tips! Safety while traveling is socmething everyone must be aware of. As a female travel blogger, I agree with taking all the orecautions listed above. My #1 dafety tip priority is the map – always knowing where I am and where I’m going. For thid reason, I got myself an Apple Watch to easily track my journey. On that note, thanks to technology my friends and family can see my location via “FindMyFriends” app. Less worry, more fun! 🙂 -Ella

  7. Such an interesting and helpful collection of tips, thank you for sharing! Traveling is very exciting and special experience, indeed, and we often tend to forget about safety, while travelling, but being safe at all times and whenever you are is very important. We would add, in case a traveller owns a passport and ID card, never bring them both with you and leave one document at the hotel/accommodation, in case that your things get stolen while wandering the streets of a city.

    1. Yes I agree, never carry your passport along, always better to leave it in a safe, in the hotel room.

  8. These are great tips! I particularly like the tip about bringing medication. I always have a few tablets of nausea medication on hand as well as Ibuprofen and Tylenol. They’ve saved me numerous times in a pinch. Great post!

    1. That’s something I haven’t been doing much of myself- carrying medication. I do, however, make sure I am medically insured whenever I travel, just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

  9. Thanks for all the tips! I think scammers are the worst of the worst. I have been fairly lucky around them, but some of my friends got their money practically stolen in Paris when a group of guys insisted on giving them one of those bracelets. But yeah, you have to be weary at all times.

    1. I had the same struggle with bracelet sellers in Greece! It always helps to read up on what type of scams to expect in a city you’re travelling to, before actually going there.

  10. Great tips. I suspect I have made all these mistakes in the years I’ve been travelling. I guess that’s where experiences, and occasional mess up really help us learn

  11. Great tips-always important things to remember. Not flaunting valuables is always a good idea-no need to draw attention to yourself and become more of a target. And agree, it’s good to know where you are going so you don’t end up on the wrong side of town! Budgeting is always good to do as well-I need to get better at that for sure!

  12. Simple but equally valuable tips. I agree with you on all these pointers especially the first one- not to carry or flaunt your valuables. I like getting lost as it leads to new spots and destinations but being careful in the new country is equally important. We all love to carry maps and GPS with us.

    1. It’s always helpful to know where you are. Even if you want to just wander around and get lost, no harm in having a GPS as back up 🙂

  13. I can agree to all of these listed. That ” don’t flaunt your valuables ” is sure a must. My partner when traveling, he never takes him his expensive watch and it’s a very clever idea to do, valuables as such are a magnet for thieves and snatches. Though, #3, I usually don’t follow this rule as sometimes not knowing where you go leads you to a better spot! Nevertheless, being precautious as most times will save us from any dangers while traveling!

  14. My husband and I are guilty of #3! We usually get lost for being too adventurous. It has led us to many instances where we were isolated and we felt that we were in danger. We are now better at avoiding these circumstances. ?
    It’s also difficult to hide the camera. We want to capture the moments during travels but sometimes it feels unsafe.

    1. Yeah the camera is a tricky one, as is the phone! In some places, even an iPhone can attract unnecessary attention but then you just have to make sure that you’re careful and you know what to expect!

  15. These are all fabulous tips – especially on not flaunting your valuables. A lot of people enjoy blinging themselves up when they travel, and looking good, but you can look stylish while still remaining low key. Successful safety is always about blending in as opposed to making a statement – otherwise you just invite thieves.

  16. Such simple things to do, but so easy to forget. Budget is a big deal so you have enough in your fund in case of emergency. As a photographer with an expensive camera, it’s so crucial to do what you can to not draw attention to your equipment.

    1. Yeah the camera is a tough one, but I guess you can’t avoid that, just have to be extra vigilant.

  17. Great list. If I had to add something I would mention the importance of doing adequate research to best understand and prepare for the unique customs and beliefs of the country you will be visiting!

  18. All great tips. I barely travel with valuable. My “diamond” stud earrings are from Walgreens and cost about $3.99 lol. I also agree with the know where you are going. I tend to map my plans the night before rather than looking lost when I get there.

  19. This is a great list. So many people flaunt their valuables. And also know where you are going especially if you are coming off a long haul flight and are jet lagged!

  20. I hate not knowing where I’m going, so I always try to plan a route beforehand, and subtley checking along the way if I lose track. Nothing screams vunerable tourist liking walking along with a map!

  21. Great tips here and ones I always do. My main tip would be to use common sense. With this, life is good.

  22. Very sensible tips! I think it’s a good idea to have a printed map of some sort. I’ve found myself in places where google maps just don’t work. Or at least download the map before you go so it is available locally and offline

  23. Very useful tips to be safe during traveling. Not flaunting valuables is the major tip, as expensive things attracts many unwanted situations. During money exchange, lots of fraud happens and to be cautious at that time, is another important tip. Always keeping your eyes open and even listening to your guts is the tip, I always follow.

  24. Thank you for these useful tips. The most important one for me is not too flaunt your valuables, and to keep passports and other documents in the hotel safe – although I have heard of hotel safes getting robbed too! I also store electronic copies of my passport, visas and other important documents on Dropbox online.

    1. That’s a fantastic idea as well Sara, to store an online copy of the important documents.

  25. Very smart tips, thank you for sharing these with us! Especially the fact that it’s not a good idea to flaunt your valuables! Also ALWAYS keep your eyes open and mind what’s going on around you!

  26. Very useful these tips! The most common mistake travelers make is that they often forget to use common sense. It sounds so simple, but it can avoid so many awkward situations. Stay safe and safe travel, thanks for the tips.

  27. Love your tips.. So practical and very useful! I’ve been doing almost all of of them on my trips, except for #3. I mean, not always. LOL. I’m starting to enjoy using maps nowadays, though as I know it’s very handy especially for navigating my way. 🙂

    1. I guess you’ve to strike the right balance between knowing where you’re going and getting lost. If you’re in a place which is known to be safe, then there’s no harm in just strolling and losing yourself in the streets, there’s so much fun in that too!

  28. Totally agree with point 1 and 5. I try not to travel with any valuables. In fact, one of the reasons I switched from DSLR to Point & Shoot Camera is that it attracts a lot of attention. Not having valuable keeps you safe and you have fewer worries on your mind. Medication is also very important as you do not get all medicines everywhere.

    1. I remember my brother’s DSLR being stolen on a bus in Bangkok so I know exactly what you mean!

  29. These all great tips for travel safety. It is amazing how many people don’t think about their valuables that they wear on a daily basis at home to wearing them in a big city or poor country and how you can become a target. Even just carrying your phone in your hand can make you a target in some countries or just walking around some parts of London.

    1. That’s true. Even the type of bag you’re carrying can be important, considering that some countries have people snatching your bags and running off with them.

  30. I totally agree with advice 1, 4 and 5, these are very good tips and something I always follow. For number 3, I would say that one can allow oneself to get lost in certain contexts, for example, allowing yourself to just wonder aimlessly in the narrow streets of cities like Venice is one of the best pleasures, but you can be more confident there of finding your way home and of not stumbling into a dangerous neighbourhood. For number 2, I’m a little confused about the link between scams and haggling, two very different issues in my mind. Scams can take many many forms, and it’s worthwhile to do a little googling to identify the latest ruses that scammers are using at a given place. When it comes to shopping and getting a fair price, first one has to identify “fair”, a loaded concept, but of course, one can haggle in many places – I happen to love it! I do feel bad though when I see (relatively) wealthy visitors haggling like their lives depended on it, to get another few pence off, when the difference is negligible to them but can make a bigger difference to the vendor. Haggle in joy, but know when to stop pushing!!!

    1. I agree, haggling is okay but sometimes, when I feel that the person on the other end is going through a lot of hardship and has put in so much sweat into the service or product they’re providing, it is okay to not haggle too much and let them have a little extra. As for scamming, I always say it’s a good idea to research what kind of scams to expect in a certain place before travelling so that you know what to expect and can be prepared for it!

  31. I agree with your list! Most important is to never to flaunt valuables, they attract unnecessary attention. It is hard to distinguish between scammers and helpful locals though. But then it is wise to follow one’s instinct.

  32. Great tips! Sometimes it’s not even so much about flaunting them, but people don’t take jewelry, in general, off and put in the hotel safe when they are diving or snorkeling. If you’re in the water (especially where barracuda are common), they are attracted to shiny things. I live in Belize and guides are constantly asking people to remove jewelry. They take it off on the boat where it’s easily lost in a bag or somewhere afterward. Always go that extra step to take it off or leave it at home entirely if you’re going on holiday somewhere you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water. If you do wear a lot of jewelry, especially in a third world country, you are inviting trouble unfortunately as you really do stand out in the first place.

    1. I can’t imagine people wearing jewellery while going diving or snorkelling! That’s a good tip, thanks.

  33. I feel avoiding the scammers is a bit tricky . I ended up in situations where my instinct to realise the scams and instinct to trust the locals got mixed up . Some times I did know that they were trying to scam , but still I gave in .
    I think it leads to a dilemma when you consider how much you would like to give in. Especially while visiting developing countries , you know people are doing dorgy stuffs because life is hard. Not trying to justify what they do , but it makes things a bot more complicated .

    1. I know what you mean, sometimes I also don’t haggle too much with people who I can see have a tough life and are only trying to make a living out of what they’re doing. I don’t really consider that scamming, even though they might be overcharging for the service/ product. Also, being too vigilant can make you distrust the nice and helpful people, robbing you of the opportunity to make some good friends along the way. I guess you’ve to learn to strike a balance!

  34. Very good pointers. When I am visiting a new country, I always share the details of my whereabouts to my close ones. I also always carry a first aid kit. I am constantly vigilant on what I am spending on. It helps me last longer in a new destination.

    1. Yes, it is never a good idea to run out of your money during the first few days of the trip! Budgeting is so important.

  35. Those are definitely the most important things to remember while traveling! Ive traveled to pretty safe places so far so Ive never really had any problems but I just booked my flight to Brazil where Ive heard all kind of things. I understand you can use your phone or camera and it could be a target for someone but I don’t understand why some people travel with their expensive jewellery or bags in some dangerous and poor countries. I also learned to always take my medicine with me, as after few time I had to get some painkillers, where I could not understand anything from the description, just had to trust the pharmacist 🙂

    1. I’ve also never considered carrying medicines around with me but it’s a good idea to at least keep the basic stuff, for things like flu and fever. That can happen anywhere, anytime! Otherwise, I always make sure to have medical insurance when I travel.

  36. Simple tips but very essential and very relevant. I keep advising people to be aware of where they are going and keep up with regular timings. Doing research beforehand also helps for you are not caught unaware. Glad you have reiterated that in your own way.

  37. This are really good helpful tips. Don’t flaunt your valuables is one that I highly go by. When we stop by the ATM in a foreign country and get cash, sometimes lots, I have to remind my husband to be careful about how he carries it. People are watching and can follow you and rob you. We definitely have to proceed with caution when abroad and this is a great list for every traveler.

  38. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips to stay safe while travelling. I can completely relate to this post. Being a frequent traveller, I’ve learned these things with time. This reminds me of my recent trip to Thailand where a tuk tuk driver tried to scam us in Bangkok. However, we didn’t fall in his trap. Thanks to all the blog posts I read before leaving for the trip. I was already aware of such scams.

    1. Yea, it is a great idea to read up on what kind of scams to expect in a city/country before getting there so that you’re already prepared for it!

  39. Many people love to flaunt their valuables and they are always the ones that gets stuff snatched! It’s mean to say but sometimes when you are not smart enough to know that depending where you are travelling you should or should not wear your valuables, you kind of looked for it to be stolen. Of course with that avoid crowds!

  40. Great tips. I often see so many people flashing their swag while they travel. You have to find the right balance of not looking too much like a tourist and not looking like you’re rolling deep. The medicine is a great example too. I found I needed it this last trip and I’m in a pretty remote area.

    1. There are so many countries where people will just snatch your jewellery off you, in broad daylight. Or sneakily. I don’t see why people flaunt belongings on their trips, I never wear anything too expensive for the fear or losing it!

  41. I don’t see any point bringing your jewelries etc to vacation. Leave it at home and worry less about your material things and enjoy your vacation I say! And we hardly use any card when traveling, only cash. We had someone making inside pockets of all my husbands trousers on our long travel trips. At least we are so no risk for pickpockets!
    When it comes to bargain, I loved to do it. It was like a game to me. I could almost make any vendor cry! But now older and wiser, althought I know the vendor is ripping me off I never bargain down the price lower than I actually think the item is worth. Ok if he is ripping me off by 5$…those 5$ might be a lot for him and his family to survive.

  42. I couldn’t agree less with these 5 tips, there are necessary for an enjoyable trip. I’ve fallen victim for scam, but I’m now wiser. The idea of haggling, I bet every traveler has imbibed the life-saving habit. But popele are ridiculously selfish, there are ready to rip you off your last cent once they notice your accent is different. Whew! And avoiding unnecessary large crowds is one thing I have watch out for. Pickpocketing, drowsiness, etc wear me out. When picking your tour activities, make sure the tour company is of a reputable name. You’ll not want to be stranded at a foreign place because you didn’t tip your guide. In all, I think you captured the best tips. Thanks!

    1. With scamming, even I’ve learned the hard way and you’re right about picking the right tour companies, reputable ones. I’ve had some issues in the past with that too! Haggling is a trick I’ve started to learn because it’s the only way out in several places!

  43. All great tips for staying as safe as possible when traveling. Usually when I travel my only valuables are my phone and camera, which are on my person at all times. Other than that I leave all expensive jewelry etc behind. It is such a good point to note that, even in a new place, you should always have an idea of where you’re going. It’s so easy to be misguided/led astray by the very scammers you mention, or worse. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’ve heard of so many incidents where the wallet (and passport) has been picked from people’s pockets and I don’t really understand why people carry their passports around while exploring a place. I usually lock it up in my room before I step out for the day!

  44. Some totally brilliant tips about traveling in foreign countries and I agree with most of them. One that I partially agree with is “knowing about where you’re going” which is important, but then I’ve discovered some wonderful hidden corners in places like Amsterdam by not knowing. I think this depends on what part of the world you are in and also the time, I wouldn’t be this adventurous at night.

    Being someone who is on daily medication, your last tip is something I live by (literally since I need medication to stay alive) and thus not only always carry extra medication, but also keep it in two different places in case one of them gets lost.

    1. I will have to agree about ‘getting lost’ bit because there’s a certain amount of fun involved in going to hidden, unknown places and coming across gems in the middle of nowhere, unexpectedly. Having said that, it’s also important to be sure about the area that you’re allowing yourself to get lost in, there are certain places which are known to be unsafe and it might be sensible to have a gps handy, just in case!

  45. I always ensure I bring medication that I’m familiar with wherever I go. It’s a very good tip to budget too, as you can never know what happens. So far, I’ve had no encounters with scammers, but there’s always a first time when travelling!

    1. I’ve had numerous scamming incidents especially with taxi drivers! I’m now ALWAYS apprehensive of what they charge and the route they take, I make sure to use my GPS and also research on the general taxi costs from the airport to my destination, before I go.

  46. These are great general tips on staying safe on the road. I think it’s important to keep your head on while traveling. For instance, many travelers like to get stoned and then cry wolf when they get robbed/taken advantage of. That’s just stupid.

    1. I know what you mean Suzanne. It’s always sensible to take basic care and be sensible while travelling, no matter how safe the country you’re in is.

  47. Hi Anastasia, useful tips for the travelers to stay safe. I would probably add to these “carry little cash and make most payments by card”. This lets you keep track of expenses too and reasonably safe. I know there are scams relating to cards too. but in terms of degree of safety , cards ranks higher than cash. In fact I always suggest have two cards, one with a lower limit for day to day purchases and another with a higher limit to be kept away safely till there is a need for it, like air travel, medical expenses etc.

    1. I do agree with you Nisha, though I think for a lot of people, using a a credit card reflects lack of control on their expenses rather than tracking it 🙂 It’s a very controversial argument, although personally, I prefer using cards over carrying cash.

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