February 1, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Traveling abroad is typically an exciting and adventurous endeavor. You pack your bags, reserve a plane ticket, obtain your passport, and locate lodging at your destination. But once you’ve arrived there, your new home-away-from-home can hold dangers you hadn’t considered or planned for. Take these tips to keep yourself safe when you travel abroad:
Your to-do list before you leave:
You’ll want to take safety precautions before you even leave your home country. Make copies of all important documents you’ll be taking with you – driver’s license/personal identification, credit cards, plan tickets, and passport. Should these items be stolen or lost during your trip, having copies will make replacing them and continuing your trip an easier task.
You’ll also want to review your clothing and wardrobe choices before you’ve packed your suitcase. Clothing that appears too expensive or offensive or undoubtedly identifies you as an American may make you a target for a robbery, mugging, or violence. While you want to show off your personal style, when you’re traveling abroad, it’s better to be too conservative than too outrageous.
Finally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws of the country you’ll be visiting. What is legal in one locale may be criminal in another. What is illegal in your home country may be perfectly acceptable at your destination country. Doing some research to ground yourself in the laws and customs will keep you from making costly mistakes and becoming a statistics in another country’s legal system.
Be vigilant during your travels:
Theft, scams, kidnapping, and violence are all realities around the world. No city is immune to these travesties. You can protect yourself from theft by keeping a minimum of cash on you at all times, wearing clothing that is not easily pick-pocketed, and keeping your valuables out of sight.
You can protect yourself from scams by being aware of your surroundings and those in it. Financial scams are common internationally, especially if the scammer knows that you are a traveling American. You’re less likely to tell the police or implicate yourself if you’ve participated in or been a victim of a scam, whether due to embarrassment or inconvenience.
You can protect yourself from kidnapping by taking only official modes of transportation (taxis are particularly prone to being a vehicle for kidnapping). Also, be mindful of your food and drink; leaving these unattended is not advised, as you could be drugged and become a victim.
Finally, though you will want to make friends along your journey, it is best to limit the amount of personal information that you share with your new mates. Sharing too much information with strangers can lead to any of the aforementioned crimes to be committed against you.
A special note about technology – we live in a digital age where everyone loves their tech toys. These are particularly prone to theft, so you will want to protect them if you must take them abroad with you.
Do not let these words of warning damper the amazing, exciting times you plan to have as you travel abroad. Let them be your guide to having the time of your life! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.