Volunteer Abroad

Personal Safety and Security While Abroad

How to Protect Yourself While Traveling Abroad

These days, your mind might automatically turn to things like masks and hand sanitizer when it comes to travel safety and security. As vital as such supplies are during a pandemic, germs aren’t your only concern.

When you’re a stranger in a strange land, protecting your identity and personal security reign supreme among safety specialists. Here are six tips to protect yourself when traveling abroad.

1. Get Your Paperwork in Order

Before you depart, you’ll want to make copies of critical documents, such as your travel insurance declarations page, driver’s license, airline tickets, hotel confirmations, and proof of vaccination — the latter being vital for when restrictions lift.

It’s wise to store your financial institutions’ phone numbers and the last four digits of each card somewhere safe in case of wallet loss or theft so that you can quickly alert the right parties.

How should you store such documentation? You never want to make your identity documents or other personally identifiable information available to the wrong hands. Consider storing each item on a USB thumb drive — and please use a strong password. Clip it to your keychain, and you have all the info you need while maintaining identity protection while traveling.

2. Share Your Itinerary With Trusted Loved Ones

Remember when you were a teen and had to tell the folks where you were going and what time you would return before they’d lend you the car? Please keep that habit in adulthood.

You should always leave a copy of your itinerary, schedule or travel details with at least one trusted person at home to maintain personal security while traveling abroad. It’s also wise to set routine check ins for extended trips. That way, if you fail to return or check in on time, your loved ones know to alert the local authorities and contact the embassy.

safety considerations while abroad
safety and security preparations for your trip abroad
choosing safe accommodation for your trip abroad
3. Choose Your Accommodations Wisely

When you book your accommodation, your top priorities might include factors like price and available amenities. However, it’s also wise to look into safety and security while researching accommodation options.

If you’re staying in community lodgings like a hostel, rental apartment or hotel, ask about security measures such as closed-circuit cameras monitoring guests coming in and out of public areas. Find out what access control system they use — do they use standard keys or more modern electronic models that protect your personal security while traveling?

Hosts and accommodations should safeguard their guests against identity theft while traveling by improving their information systems. Check for website security if you’re booking lodgings online by looking for the lock icon in the upper left corner of your browser’s address bar. 

If you plan to work while away, make sure your venue provides a password-protected network for getting connected and always use a virtual private network (VPN) app like ProtonVPN or Mullvad to obfuscate your online identity.

4. Look Like One of the Locals

If you wander down public streets with your camera in hand and jaw agape, you might as well wear a sign that says, “I’m a vulnerable tourist.” While the locals you meet will quickly realize you’re from elsewhere — especially if you’re part of volunteer efforts — there’s no need to broadcast your status to miscreants. Keep a low profile.

When you walk to new destinations, appear confident, even if you feel a little lost. Always have the phone number of an emergency contact, programme coordinator, or fellow traveller or volunteer on hand if you lose your bearings, and if not, stop into a shop to ask for directions rather than stopping a stranger on the street.

Keep your safety in mind while enjoying new locations
Think about security tips before you leave so you can be more relaxed on your trip
Tourist areas can be crowded. Take care of your belongings and yourself!
5. Stay Alert

When you go on vacation, you might throw the whole one-drink-per-day recommendation out the window. It’s okay to overindulge a little bit as long as you do so wisely. Know your limits. Consider alternating one non-alcoholic drink for each spiked beverage you consume to keep your wits and judgment intact, as well as protect yourself. If you’re part of a volunteer group or programme, remember that while you deserve to have fun on your time off, you’re here to do an important job.

6. Consider Taking a Personal Safety Course

Finally, a little self-defence knowledge can go a long way toward boosting your confidence. In turn, you behave in ways less likely to attract predators while traveling abroad — or in your home country.

If possible, seek out a class like IMPACT, where instructors wear thick pads to let you experience the sensation of punching and kicking with all your might. It never hurts to be prepared — and self-defence skills can make you feel secure, although hopefully you won’t need to use them. 

Protect Your Identity and Personal Security While Traveling Abroad

Travelling abroad doesn’t come without risks, but when you take safety precautions and prepare yourself, you’ll enjoy a safe, unforgettable experience in a new country.

Globalteer guest author Ginger
Author - Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot is a learning and education writer with a personal passion for study abroad and international travel. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Classrooms.com, where you can read more of her work.