Savvy & Safe: Common Sense Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

by TFB Editors on March 30, 2012

By Kim Weiss

Spring is here and summer is around the corner, so it’s a sure bet that many Baby Boomer travel fanatics have already booked or are planning a trip abroad. Europe, Asia, Iceland, “Down Under” — the world is waiting for us!

But before you embark on your adventure, there are five things savvy travelers of the Baby Boomer generation – safe and savvy travelers — know about traveling abroad. They’re just common sense tips, really, but pay attention because we don’t want anything to spoil your journey.
Savvy Tip #1: Leave the rings behind.

To avoid being a target of theft, don’t flash around valuable things bad guys want to steal. Keep jewelry and clothing modest, and keep cameras, computers, and wallets out of plain sight. When our Travel For Boomers marketing director lived in Brazil, she was taught to keep a small amount of money in one pocket to give up just in case she was robbed. The rest she kept hidden. Her friends there also told her not to take out her camera on public transportation, and never, ever to ask strangers to take her photo because they may prefert to take her camera instead.

Married ladies: You should also make it a habit to leave your diamond engagement ring at home and go abroad with just your wedding band. That goes for any other bejeweled accessories, including Boomer gents’ diamond pinky rings!

Savvy Tip #2: Travel light.

Another reason to go carry-on only – besides avoiding baggage fees – is that the less  you have to lug around, the more quickly you can move, if necessary. You should always have a free hand. Besides, you won’t be as exhausted from dragging all those bags around. Plus, you’re a dead give-away (read: target) as a tourist if you’re hauling lots of bags.

Savvy Tip #3: Lock it up.

Leave your hotel with only what you need and lock up the rest. Bring a lock for your luggage just in case your hotel doesn’t offer a safe. You should call ahead to be sure, especially if your luggage is made of a cloth material, which can easily be sliced open regardless of the lock, which makes use of the hotel’s safe imperative. The point being: If you don’t need all your cash and cards, by all means do not take them all with you when you strike out for a day of sightseeing or shopping.

Also:  Leave your passport in the hotel (either in the hotel’s safe or under lock and key in your luggage). Make photocopies of all your important documents and leave the hotel with the copy of your passport plus one photo I.D. Why? Well, imagine having your purse stolen off a restaurant table or bar. If all of your identification is in that bag, imagine the huge hassle you’ll have to go through to replace it all! Which leads me to the next point…

Savvy Tip #4: Leave the big bag at home.

Purses — especially the big ones that are so trendy now — are huge targets for street thieves. If you simply must carry a shoulder bag, strap it on like a messenger bag so it can’t be slipped off your arm. Perhaps you’re a backpack fan? Fine, but when you’re traveling in crowded place, like subways, buses, and the entire country of China, wear it on the front of your chest. And purse or backpack: Put your money and credit card in your front pockets or in another hidden money holder on your body.

Savvy Tip #5: Think and plan.

Always keep in mind that, when you travel abroad, you are in a place you don’t know well (that’s the point of the trip, after all) and you can always be a target. Trust your senses. You’re smart and mature, so if something or some situation doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t. Ask the hotel staff and locals about areas you’re thinking of visiting, especially at night. Walk in well-lit areas at night, monitor your surroundings, and know how to contact the local police if necessary. Also learn how to use a pay phone in a foreign country and keep a phone card on you just in case your cell phone is stolen.

As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Follow these five savvy safety tips and enjoy a worry-free adventure abroad this summer.

Any other savvy traveler tips we should have included? Let us know in the Comments section!

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