Traveling is a thrilling experience but can quickly turn into a disaster if you’re not prepared. In fact, simple mistakes can be life-threatening if you end up in the wrong situation at the wrong time. It’s not all gloom and doom though since obeying a few simple rules can increase your safety exponentially and provide you with a more rewarding experience. This being the case, let’s go over some basic travel tips for beginners that will make a world of difference on your travels.
Read Up on Your Destination
While the idea of traveling to a place you’ve never been before may seem exciting, it can also be very dangerous. For example, maybe you want to travel to a quaint little village in eastern Europe only to get there and realize it’s a hot spot for human trafficking due to its seclusion. These are the types of situations that can be avoided by doing your research beforehand.
Basic things that you should look up include the crime rate, required vaccinations if any, and whether or not the public drinking water is safe for foreigners such as yourself. You should also check to see if there are any weather or climate hazards that occur during your planned visit.
This could mean avoiding southeastern Asia during monsoon season or avoiding the northern United States during blizzard season.
Another thing to consider is that known tourist destinations can be safer overall but also more dangerous in some ways. Take Cancun for example. It is a popular tourist town but theft and kidnapping can be a problem if you are careless. Does this mean you shouldn’t visit Cancun? Of course not. Just make sure that you follow simple safety guidelines such as traveling in a group, keeping a close eye on your belongings, and never wandering off on your own. These basic safety tips pretty much apply to most tourist cities and will make you much less of a target for criminal activity.
Get Someone to Keep Track of You
When you travel you always want to make sure that you have at least one person who knows where you’re going, how long you’ll be staying, and when you’ll be back. This way if you go missing, a search and rescue operation will be sent out sooner which will increase your chance of survival. This is especially true if you’re going to be exploring isolated areas such as mountains, caves, forests, or similar places.
If you want to be even safer, you should have someone that you check in with on a regular basis. This could be a message every week or even every day if you feel the need. In either case, this will ensure a fast response if something goes wrong and you need help. Also, you can come up with a secret code word that can be sent if you are in trouble and can’t speak freely. This may sound like something out of a corny spy thriller, but it could save your life.
Plan Your Stops and Create a Smart Schedule
Okay, enough of the scary stuff, let’s talk about how to make your trip more fun and exciting. While traveling can be an adventure if you just take off and go whichever way the wind blows, it can also be extremely boring if you don’t run into anything interesting to do. The solution to this problem is to plan out your trip well in advance and in detail.
For example, instead of just planning a trip to Rome, plan a trip to specific destinations in Rome that you want to visit. You can use Route4Me to plan the route and navigate to each destination without taking detours. This is great for when your trip is on a tight deadline and you have to be back home within a certain time frame.
Speaking of which, make sure that you add a little leeway into your schedule when planning things out. There are always surprises when traveling, both good and bad, so you want to give yourself the time you need to deal with them. Imagine for instance that you’re a dancer and you’ve traveled to Spain and find out that there is an open dance contest. Sounds like fun, but what if you simply don’t have enough time?
Adding extra time into your schedule from the get-go can help prevent situations like this and allow for a more flexible travel experience.
Beware of GPS Errors and Public Wi-Fi
GPS has revolutionized the way people travel, especially on road trips. However, it has also caused people to become overconfident in technology and ignore common sense. This has sadly led to fatalities in some cases.
Instead of exclusively relying on your GPS, you should double-check your route and make sure that you’re not being led into a bad situation or area. The shortest route is not always the best route after all.
Also, make sure that you’re wary of public Wi-Fi, especially in tourist towns. This is because hackers regularly monitor public Wi-Fi channels with the intent of getting into unsecured devices of tourists to steal personal info, financial info, and other valuable data. If you have to use public Wi-Fi, make sure that your device has the necessary protections such as a strong firewall and passwords. You may also want to use a VPN (virtual private network) to further protect your device by using a false IP address and advanced security features.
Gather the Correct Documentation
When you travel you almost always need some form of documentation such as your passport, national identification, and travel visa. If you choose to hire a company that ships cars to transport your vehicle, you’ll need paperwork for that as well. While the specific documentation you need depends on the situation, you should always check and double-check that you have everything you need. The last thing you want is to get stuck in an airport terminal for over a decade like Sir Alfred Mehran because you didn’t have the right paperwork. Yes, that actually happened. Also, you may also need proof of vaccination and insurance depending on where you’re going.
Stay Smart and Stay Safe
Traveling is a lot of fun but there is a lot more to it than just taking off on a whim. Don’t let the complexity of it all get you down though. Most of the paperwork, precautions, and safety measures are simple common-sense stuff that you’ll quickly grow accustomed to. Once you’ve smartened yourself up on all the basic rules and tips for traveling, you’ll have a whole new world to explore and enjoy at your leisure. As long as you take traveling seriously and make the proper preparations, it will reward you.