Keep in touch
Keep in touch with your family and let them know where you are going. Lack of communication can cause your family distress and worry. You could be the subject of a major police search instigated by anxious relatives.
If you use a credit card your family can check on your approximate whereabouts through your bank provided, you have given them approval to access details of your credit card.
If you are in an area experiencing civil unrest or a natural disaster, or if you are planning to travel to a remote area, it is advisable to register at the nearest embassy or consulate.
Take travellers cheques and a couple of major credit cards with you (keep one of the credit-cards separate from your other valuables); do not carry large amounts of cash. Some countries have limited credit card facilities and cash advances are not always available. Check with your travel agent or bank about which cards can be used in the countries you intend to visit and the most appropriate currency for your travellers cheques.
Keep your passport and valuables in something that can be worn around the neck, under your clothes and out of sight. Bum-bags are highly visible and are an obvious target for thieves.
Photocopy your itinerary, passport, credit cards, travel documents and important phone numbers. Keep a copy of these separate from the originals, in case of loss or theft, and leave a copy with parents or friends at home.
Wherever possible, leave passports, travellers cheques and other valuables in a safety deposit box or safe at your hotel.
Beware of people offering 'get-rich-quick' schemes, for example purchasing of gem stones for resale in another country.
Selecting the right accommodation is important. For peace of mind it is always best to pre-book accommodation, particularly for your first few nights in a foreign country. The best way to do this is to stay with a reputable accommodation chain. This doesn't have to be expensive: YHA, for example, has a comprehensive and cheap accommodation network. If you're travelling alone and on a budget, youth hostels are a good place to meet fellow travellers, as they have communal areas such as TV rooms and Internet cafes. Talk to fellow travellers, and branch out when you've found your feet.
Wear a helmet if hiring a motorbike; head injuries occur overseas as often as at home. Some insurance companies do not cover accidents in which the rider was not wearing a helmet or did not have a current motorcycle licence. Obtain an international driving permit before you leave and take this, and your country driver's licence, with you. Make sure that your travel insurance policy provides cover for medical claims for accidents whilst you are motorcycling.
Never carry packages or luggage for another person through Customs at airports, bus depots or across borders. This ploy is used by drug traffickers to transport prohibited substances.
Never drive someone else's vehicle (unless you have hired it) through Customs or across a border.
If you're travelling by train, especially overnight, secure your possessions and don't take sleeping pills - in some countries, gangs of thieves operate on trains and rob sleeping passengers. If you're with friends, sleep in shifts.
Be cautious about accepting food or drink from strangers. Criminals sometimes drug travellers on trains and buses and in bars.
Never hitchhike. There are few, if any, places left in the world where hitchhiking is considered a safe way to travel, and in some countries it is illegal.
Keep your hotel door locked and meet visitors in the lobby.
Keep yourself and your clothes clean and respectable. Be aware of sensitivities to local customs and dress codes. Some cultures are deeply offended by revealing or inappropriate clothes. This applies to both male and female travellers.
If, as a woman, you find you are the subject of unwanted attention (e.g. hissing, muttering, pinching, suggestive gestures, invasion of your personal space), keep calm and do not retaliate but remove yourself quickly from the situation by taxi or other transport, or head for the nearest police officer.