How to stay safe while travelling overseas

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Travelling to new countries is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you can have.

Unfortunately, it can also be quite dangerous, with some destinations requiring more caution than others. Because of this, it doesn't matter whether you're travelling with a group of friends, your partner, or alone, it's still important to take steps to protect both yourself and your belongings.

Some safety tips, like keeping an eye on your drink when you're out, or avoiding dark places when alone at night, are fairly universal. Having said that, there are also other steps you can take to protect your health, safety and ensure you enjoy yourself when travelling overseas.

Get travel insurance

The first thing you're going to want to do to help keep yourself safe is take out travel insurance.

In Australia we're lucky enough that most medical emergencies are covered under Medicare. Universal healthcare, however, is not something that can be expected in all countries. For this reason, it's vital that you ensure you're covered before getting on the plane.

Make sure someone back home knows your itinerary

While travelling, it's a good idea to make sure someone back home knows where you're going to be and when you're meant to be there. This safety is particularly important for those travelling alone but is still useful if you're heading off in a group.

When it comes to new friends, however, the opposite is true. No matter how well you think you've bonded with someone, it's a good idea not to let outsiders know your plans. You never know who might overhear a discussion at the bar, and just because someone seems friendly, that doesn't necessarily mean they are.

Be prepared for accidents

Carrying a mini first aid kit with you won't add much weight to your bag, but it can potentially get you out of a rather sticky situation. This is especially true if you're the type who likes to venture out in the wilderness. Even those who stay in relatively urban areas, however, will benefit from being able to deal with scrapes or insect bites. We like this super compact first-aid kit that even has a carabiner for easy attachment to your bag.

Travel first aid kit

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Research your destination

It's important to research your destination as a whole, rather than just the activities you want to do while you're there.

We know it can be easy to get swept up in designing the perfect itinerary and forget to worry about laws and logistics, but it's vital that you understand what you can, and cannot, do in the destinations you're intending on visiting.

This is because it's quite possible to find yourself locked up if you don't follow the local customs in many countries, and having your holiday (or possibly even your life) ruined by something that seemed innocent is no fun at all.

Secure your accommodation

Once you make it to your destination, your top priority should be securing your accommodation, especially if you're staying in an area that's known for not being particularly safe.

A quick and easy way to do this is by fitting travel door locks to your room, and we also suggest keeping padlocks handy for if you're in a hostel situation where your belongings might be staying in a locker, rather than with you.

Travel lock
addalock door lock

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Only take official transport and stay in control

While it can be tempting to jump in the car with a new friend, let someone else call an uber or cab, or take the first mode of transport that you come across, it's important to stay in control when you're in a foreign country. You won't know if you're going the wrong way until it's too late, and unfortunately, kidnapping is a real risk in many parts of the world.

To help avoid ending up in a not-so-great situation, we recommend sticking to public transport or official taxi services, and always being the one in charge of setting the destination.

Consider getting a personal alarm

Even with taking all appropriate precautions to avoid ending up in a less than favourable situation, there is unfortunately still a possibility that this may happen. To help mitigate risk, and hopefully buy yourself time to escape if something bad does happen, it can be a good idea to carry a personal alarm.

These devices most commonly make loud noises designed to startle anyone with bad intentions, and can also alert those nearby that something is going on.

Personal alarm
ORIA Personal Alarm

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Have copies of important documents

There's a strong possibility that you're going to need to carry things like your identification and passport on you at all times. At the very least, they're going to need to come overseas with you, because you can't fly out without them.

Unfortunately, this leaves them, and you, in a rather vulnerable position. Losing your passport or ID in a foreign country can cause major issues, so we suggest taking extra steps to protect these documents.

Not only will you want to have digital copies of all important documents, but we also suggest keeping at least one additional hard copy to ensure you're covered. In addition to this (if you can fit it), it's a good idea to keep a portable safe or lock box handy so you can store these and other valuables securely.

Don't showcase valuables

Speaking of valuables, it's a good idea to keep them hidden. While it can be tempting to go about your day with your favourite jewellery on display to complete your outfit, this isn't advisable in many parts of the world as it will make you a target for crime.

Keep things understated and mostly hidden if you must wear jewellery and do your best to avoid designer bags or other items that can be easily snatched.

Keep your bags close

You'll also want to ensure that you keep your bag and any other belongings that you carry with you close.

Cross-body bags are a great way to do this, as they're harder to remove from your person if someone tries to grab them while running past.

We also suggest the use of RFID wallets or bags to protect your card details and other digital devices from skimming, a practice that is even more common overseas than it is here.

Cross-body bag

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Keep devices close and charged

Finally, when you're in a foreign country, the last thing you want is to be cut off from your main source of information and communication.

Mobile phones can be important safety devices, so we suggest ensuring that you've got a portable power bank with you at all times so you can top up on charge if needed.

You'll also want to take a universal travel adapter with you on your holiday, as most countries have unique configurations for power output, and you don't want to get caught out not being able to charge your devices.

Portable charger

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Final word

Travelling overseas can be a fantastic experience, but it's still important to take steps to protect yourself and your belongings.

In order to make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible, follow these tips. You'll be thankful that you have so you can focus on having fun.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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