Travel is back after being off the table for many people due to restrictions and financial challenges. It’s exciting to be able to hit the road or take to the sky again, see new places, and try new things. However, keep in mind that travel (especially internationally) can come with some risks.
Losing vital documents or bags or falling victim to savvy thieves who spot tourists as easy marks can put a serious damper on your plans and cause headaches even after you return home.
But you shouldn’t let concern over these pitfalls keep you from getting out and seeing the world. Instead, take some simple precautions before you leave and while on your trip to reduce your risk of running into trouble.
Before you leave home, especially if you’re traveling internationally or far from home, let your financial institution know you’re traveling and where. This is an excellent idea for a couple of reasons. First, it will help you avoid an instance in which your bank declines a transaction on your card because it’s coming from a vastly different place. Also, some banks will pay special attention to transactions while you’re traveling to keep an eye out for especially large transactions or those that appear fraudulent if your card is lost or stolen. You can also register with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for international travel.
Have a Backup Plan
One thing you definitely want to avoid when traveling is losing all of your payment forms, leaving you without any way to make purchases while abroad. To prevent this, make use of your hotel room’s safe and leave some cash and a credit card behind in your room when you go out exploring. This will offer you a backup method of payment in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Additionally, you can give some cash to a trusted friend or family member before you leave with an agreement that they will wire you the funds, if necessary.
Keep It Close to the Vest
When you’re out and about while traveling, be smart about how you carry your money and documents, especially if you’re in a crowded area. Rather than a big purse, carry only the essentials in a small bag that you can hold close to your body as you walk. If you’re in an area especially known for pickpockets, consider a belt or vest to keep your valuables hidden under your clothing.
Know Who to Call
Before you depart, write down the contact information for your bank so that you know who to call if something goes wrong. For example, many credit and debit cards have the bank’s phone number on the back. However, if someone steals your card and you need to report it to the bank, you won’t have that option. Keeping a slip of paper with the contact number close by will give you a lifeline.
Protect Your Documents
Your travel documents should be as protected as your money. Your passport, any immigration paperwork you received at the border, and customs declarations are all crucial to smoothly making your way between countries. Keep these items safe by leaving them in your hotel room, if it is secure, or carrying them close to your body. Before leaving home, you can take photos or make copies of things like your ID or passport and stow them separately in your luggage. These can be helpful if the originals are lost or stolen.
Travel is exciting, so don’t let worry take away from enjoying your trip. Be aware of potential risks and take steps to avoid them. If you plan ahead and exercise some caution, you can safely travel the world and have a wonderful time doing it.