9 Important Travel Tips that May Save Your Life
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I was concluding plans on my trip to Paris before the multiple terrorist attacks that occurred in November, 2015. Needless to say I cancelled my plans after that. The news really shook me with all sorts of that ‘could have been me’ thoughts flowing through my consciousness.
Have you ever seen No Escape? Did you have thoughts going through your mind about how that could have been you and your family suddenly caught in the middle of political unrest?
Am I scaring you yet?
Well, l don’t mean to. These situations happen sometimes. The truth is that throughout history there have always been reasons not to travel. The indomitable human spirit always wins through though. We are all explorers by nature, even if life sometimes tempers our ability to rush out and see the world.
As a fan of National Geographic Channel’s Banged Up Abroad I often wonder just how a trip can fast become a nightmare.
Many things can go wrong during what are supposed to be your best, most exhilarating days on earth; and instead of wishing them away you can arm yourself with the right kind of information, equipment and thought processes. Be prepared.
Get In Here
Familiarize yourself with the laws of the place you intend to visit.
A friend was almost denied entry into Dubai because she and her partner packed some adult toys, which are against the Dubai immigration laws. Many other countries frown at adult items, so, you need to make sure that you keep your luggage “clean” or enquire about the laws where you are traveling.
Some countries also have very harsh marijuana laws, so you need to be sure you are not caught in the wrong region with the ‘right substance’. With laws in the US having relaxed so much it is easy to forget just how much trouble you could be get in if you are caught in possession of cannabis in certain places.
If you are travelling to the US then make sure you are up to date with the ESTA regulations, or any VISA requirements you may need to meet. Trump is seemingly trying to turn everything upside down. My brother in law, a Nigerian, travelled into Dallas last month with his wife and child. The immigration office told him that he was “Trumps Son” and that “he had better have all his paperwork in order”. The family were taken to a holding room to be investigated. Thankfully they got through, but if the hadn’t had enough $ currency, an itinerary and so on then they would have been turned back and refused entry.
Some countries don’t allow photography around certain areas. Before you get too caught up behind your lens, make sure it isn’t illegal to film or photo where you are.
Make your research; Watch the news or read the news to keep abreast of situations at your destination.
Sometimes, you may unavoidably find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster or situation inspired by political unrest because these things can be unpredictable. You may even get stranded as a result of law that was made while you were in transit.
Most of the time though, reading the news could just save your life. Many parts of Africa are not suitable for foreigners around election periods, because of the chaos that can erupt from nowhere.
Brooke Saward, a well-travelled blogger emphasises doing adequate research before booking a trip. I agree. Research may save you from getting stuck in a foreign land due to extreme weather. Or you may learn that a region is susceptible to certain kind of disasters if you check the news. Simple research can tell you a lot.
Be gracious towards people. This will warm them to you. Should there be a problem, they will likely let you know. Be careful not to get to too close to people that you do not know though; especially in unstable regions.
Learn some words in the local language.
This works hand in hand with being polite.
Christy Woodrow shared this tip in her travel tips post and I agree with her. You should learn simple phrases and words of the people in your destination.
Aside from giving you extra cool points with the locals, this could get you doubled meal portions or extra glasses of beer.
Get travel insurance
I know this might feel like wasted money if you get it all the time you travel but never get to use it. But you never can tell when things can go wrong and trust me when I say these policies will literally save your life.
You may get mugged, robbed or you may fall ill. Trust me when I say anything can happen. Savvy travellers hope that money spent on travel insurance is money thrown away and wasted, but know that it is their peace of mind, and potentially the most important money they spend on any trip.
The importance of this cannot be over emphasised. It is strongly advised that you get vaccinated to protect you and any young travellers you are taking with you.
Do not travel without getting shots that may save you from getting terribly ill. Check this post to read more about vaccinations before travelling.
Tell someone about your trip.
Do not travel without letting at least one person know your whereabouts. That way, it will be easy to trace you should anything go wrong.
Make photocopies of your travel documents
An experienced traveller shared this tip because anything can happen. You can get mugged, robbed or get careless and you lose vital travel documents. A scanned copy or photocopy might save you the expense of getting a new one or getting stuck in a foreign land for extra days.
Get the addresses and phone numbers of your embassy or consulate
So that you can easily contact them if you have any issues. You should also let them know at the embassy that you are in your destination.
These tips are all really common sense, but it is so easy to miss something or shrug your shoulders and think something can be left off your list. Use this list as a checklist and you can have greater peace of mind as you travel. Hopefully, noting bad will happen on your travels, but if it does, the information here could make a big difference to how things pan out for you.