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Staying safe overseas is a big concern for those who travel — perhaps a bigger concern than ever before. Our current global climate is one where terrorism has taken hold, governments issue overblown safety advice, and the media fuels paranoia about whether traveling is safe (it is).

But it’s not travel that’s dangerous — it’s LIFE. Statistically, you’re more likely to be crushed to death by a vending machine at home than caught up in a terrorist attack abroad.

The biggest secret to staying safe abroad has, and always will be, traveling with street smarts and common sense. To brush up on your street smarts, the following are some straightforward, basic tips for travel safety. Often, the most simple advice is the advice we need the most.

Travel Safety: Why Common Sense is The Best Way to Stay Safe Abroad

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Don’t Get Excessively Drunk

Having a social drink is the norm in most parts of the world, although getting drunk abroad has the potential to be a recipe for disaster. You’re in a foreign country and potentially unfamiliar with its language, customs and laws. You may be with people you may have met briefly, and you likely have no idea where you’re staying.

Know your limits and drink within reason. If you’re heading out, travel with a business card of your hotel and hand it to the taxi driver at the end of the night.

Don’t Leave Anything Unattended in Public

Always ask someone to watch your belongings for you. I have a sneaking suspicion that half of the time, travelers who fall victim to petty theft have painted the target on their own backs.

Always have at least one body part connected to your belongings by looping a bag strap around an arm or leg, or fasten your bag to something around you. If an object is loose, it’s a target for theft. Even a minor inconvenience can effectively deter thieves. You don’t have to make your bag impenetrable, just less appealing than the next person’s bag.

Bag and book

Travel With Protection

Of course, there are always environmental factors beyond our control, and sometimes, some people are going to wind up in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s why travelers with common sense are always protected.

A medical emergency can happen anywhere. Having travel protection with medical transport membership programs such as MedjetAssist is essential for your wallet and your health. If you are hospitalized in a country overseas, MedjetAssist can arrange medical transport to get you to the hospital of your choice back home.

More Common Sense Tips

Above all, use your common sense and listen to your gut instincts. Don’t walk alone into dark alleys at night. Don’t pull huge wads of cash out in public and avoid leaving anything valuable in your back pockets. Download city or street maps before any outdoor excursions.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust and try to blend into your surroundings as much as possible. Learn some basics of the local language and learn to recognize the uniforms of police officials.

Common sense and street smarts are ultimately the biggest keys to staying safe abroad.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    22 Comments

  1. Some useful tips there Meg but if you follow the news it seems that commonsense may not be all that common. I wonder why some people would even think about walking alone in a dark alleyway in an unfamiliar city. That’s a recipe for disaster!

    • Yes, sadly it seems that common sense doesn’t seem to be the norm anymore. Which is quite sad!

  2. I hate to be that person, but nearly all of the incidents I hear about travelers abroad are due to lack of common sense. They drank to much or went into a neighborhood they shouldn’t have been in at night. Using common sense is the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe.

    • Yep, absolutely Jennifer! I did the mountain bike ride of Bolivia’s “Death Road” a couple of years back, named because it’s the world’s most dangerous road. Nowadays though the traffic and barreling trucks that it used to be renowned for take alternate highway routes, but tourists still die because they’ll be posing over the side of a cliff to take a selfie. Ridiculous!

  3. What a sensible approach – I do hate people who are hysterical about where they shouldn’t go because of the remote chance of a terrorist attack, but don’t use common sense at home or in ‘safe’ countries.

    • Absolutely Fiona – it’s not travel which is dangerous – it’s acting irresponsibly and without sense!!

  4. Great tips Megan!
    Simple things that can literally save us from trouble while travelling. Another good tip is to save on your mobile contacts a number named as “Emergency call to XXX”, so if you are in any emergency situation and someone tries to help you, it’s easy for them to call a person you trust and that can help. That was a great tip I received from a friend who works with accident rescue in Brazil.
    Cheers,
    Nat

    • Thanks Natalie! Great tip on the emergency phone number in your contacts list – I’m going to add that to mine right now. Thanks for the advice … that’s a really great tip for general too :)

  5. You always have great tips. Travel insurance is so important when traveling, because the cost of an emergency medical issue could not only ruin a holiday, but cripple your bank account!

    • Thanks Drew :) And absolutely – traveling without some kind of protection or coverage is just such a stupid move.

  6. I love this post! I’ve always thought about writing something similar because it is so true and important for people to use common sense all the time but especially when they are in unknown environments. It breaks my heart when I hear tragic stories where something went wrong and there was no common sense being used.

    • Thanks Natasha! And me too – it seems like we hear about those ind of stories all the time, where it was gross negligence on the behalf of the person who died :(

  7. Your first tip – don’t get drunk, seems easy enough to follow, but it’s amazing how many drunk travelers I’ve seen get taken advantage of. Maybe they’re like that at home too, or maybe the vacation is their excuse. It’s a pity for them that they can’t hold their liquor.

    • I hope that the vacation is just the excuse, but it’s sad because people would actually be much safer getting intoxicated at home in an environment they know!!

  8. YESS!! I love this post. I noticed when travelling India some of the travelers were not using common sense and it’s so important in a country like that.

    • Absolutely Anita – I’m so hoping that people start picking up their game.

  9. Great tips. Especially since common sense isn’t always common.

    • Thanks Holly … exactly!!

  10. Great tips Meagan. I fully agree with you that with proper care and common sense we can safely travel the world. Thanks for sharing the tips :)

    • Thanks Sumti! Happy travels :)

  11. I believe we also need some training/knowledge or guidance whatever you call it, apart from Common Sense. Sometimes, we really need to have more than common sense if we are traveling a foreign country.

    • This is true too – I think common sense is what ultimately guides good decisions when you’re in a situation you haven’t experienced before, or are unsure of.

      Safety abroad is very similar to safety when you’re at home, but definitely recommend prior planning and research into the country you’re heading to, because that country specific knowledge does absolutely make a difference when you’re on the ground :)

      Happy & safe travels!

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