Precautions to Take While Traveling
From Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. State Department
What to Take
Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress in a way that could mark you as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention.
Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.
Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to put them each in a different place rather than all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing.
If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Pack them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.
To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel.
Bring travelers’ checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.
Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.
Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.
Safety on the Street
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.
•Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
•Try not to travel alone at night.
•Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.
•Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
•Avoid scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.
•Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will: jostle you, ask you for directions or the time, point to something spilled on your clothing, or distract you by creating a disturbance.
•Beware of groups of vagrant children who could create a distraction to pick your pocket.
•Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
•Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.
•Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.
•Learn a few phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.
•Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Safety in Your Hotel
•Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
•Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
•If you are out late at night, let someone know when you expect to return.
•If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.
•Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.)