1. Have backup documentation, especially when travelling abroad. Make two photocopies of the front page of your passport. Leave one at your hotel and leave one at home with a trusted relative or friend who will be available while you are travelling. In a like manner make sure to carry your credit card numbers in a separate location and do not forget to take the card’s telephone number in case you need to report a stolen or lost credit card.
2. Make sure that your credit card company knows where you are and what your dates of travel are. There is nothing more frustration than a credit card computer believing that someone has stolen your card and shutting it down. By calling the credit card company you can avoid the hassles and embarrassment of your card not working.
3. Carry multiple forms of payment (cash, credit cards, money withdrawal cards etc). Always carry more than one credit card with you in case you lose one, it is stolen, or becomes demagnetised. Know the advantages and disadvantage of each form of payment. When using cash be discrete and never take a large amount of money out from your pocket in public. Carry only the cash that you will need for that day.
4. Make sure that you do your research before you travel. Know the local customs, foods, dinner hours and tipping policies before you land. Know the local laws and customs of the place that you are visiting. Do not assume that what is legal in one location is legal in another place. Write down and memorise how to ask for a police officer and medical assistance in the local language.
5. Make sure that your family and friends know where you are and how to find you. In case of an emergency it will help everyone if friends and relatives have you itinerary and list of hotel numbers. Your cell phone will not work if something happens to you, so back that number up with local numbers. If you change your plans, have a person at home whom you can email with the new information.
6. Your mother was right; don’t speak with strangers! Although when travelling everyone is a stranger, be careful not to give private information to anyone. Do not give out your address, full name or passport number. If you are a female traveller be careful of going off with a man who you do not know.
7. If you are in a place where you may become a victim, then take a city tour first. Use a reputable agency. Look at the map before you leave the hotel, not while you are on the street. Best to write down directions on a piece of paper and leave the map folded in your pocket.
8. Keep the hotel’s address and telephone number with you at all times and do not keep it in your wallet. Also if your country has an embassy or consulate in the city (cities) that you intend to visit, then let them know who you are before you arrive. If lost, do not panic but rather ask a police officer for help or call the hotel and ask them to guide you. Always carry local emergency numbers with you!
9. Dress down, not up and keep track of your personal items. Travel is not a fashion show. When touring do not wear your best clothing and leave your jewellery at home. Keep it simple and remember if you cannot afford to lose it or will be emotionally distraught then leave it at home. Do not leave bags, briefcases or backpacks unguarded. Make an inventory of what you have before you leave home.
10. Trust but also verify! When travelling it is a good thing to be sceptical. Do not share your trip itinerary with unknown persons. If someone wants to know where you are going, ask yourself the question, “what for?” The best is to learn to answer without giving information. Never allow yourself to be pressured into doing what feels uncomfortable to you.