passport and bag

Traveling can be one of the most exciting and enriching experiences of your life. Exploring new places, trying new foods, and immersing yourself in different cultures are just some of the joys of travel. However, traveling, especially abroad, does come with some risks. With some preparation and vigilance, you can greatly reduce your chances of encountering any trouble. Follow these travel safety tips to stay safe on your next adventure.

Traveling opens our minds, expands our perspectives, and allows us to experience the incredible diversity of our world. However, travelers must also be aware of potential dangers. Pickpockets, scams, violent crime, and illnesses can ruin an otherwise unforgettable trip. Fortunately, there are many precautions travelers can take to protect themselves. With some vigilance, common sense and pre-trip preparation, you can travel safely and focus on creating amazing memories.

Travel Safety Tips

Here are some general travel safety tips to keep in mind for every trip:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Criminals often target tourists who seem distracted.
  • Don’t walk alone at night in unfamiliar or isolated areas.
  • Keep your valuables close to you. Use a money belt or hidden wallet.
  • Be careful with public transportation. Use registered taxis with working meters.
  • Be respectful of local customs and laws. Avoid confrontations or sensitive topics.
  • Research your destination to identify any potential risks or scams.
  • Share your itinerary with loved ones back home. Check in regularly.
  • Trust your instincts if a place doesn’t feel safe. Leave if you sense danger.

Following these common sense precautions will help deter opportunistic thieves or violent criminals looking for easy targets.

Safety Tips for Airports

Airports can be prime locations for pickpockets and luggage theft. To stay safe:

  • Keep your passport on your person in a hidden wallet or pouch.
  • Keep close watch of your bags, especially at security and baggage claim.
  • Don’t accept packages from strangers that could contain drugs or contraband.

Safety Tips for Travelers

In addition to general advice, safety tips for travelers will depend on your destination. Certain precautions are more important in some regions than others.

Register Your Trip

Before traveling abroad, consider registering your trip with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This allows the nearest embassy to contact you in case of an emergency or crisis in the region.

Research Safety Advisories

Check the U.S. State Department website for any travel advisories or safety warnings for your intended destination. Some countries may be unsafe to visit due to terrorism, crime, civil unrest or health risks.

Get Travel Insurance

In case of emergency injury, illness or trip cancellations, travel insurance can be a lifesaver. Make sure your policy covers medical evacuation if necessary.

Learn Key Phrases

Learn a few key phrases in the local language of your destination, such as “help,” “police,” and “where is…?” This allows you to communicate in an emergency.

Share Your Itinerary

Give a copy of your full itinerary to a trusted friend or family member. Include accommodation details, return flights, planned activities and emergency contacts.

How to Stay Safe While Traveling Abroad

Travelers heading abroad need to take additional precautions beyond routine travel safety. Here are some tips for staying safe when traveling abroad:

Monitor Government Advisories

Be aware of the political and economic situation in the countries you plan to visit. Avoid travel to regions with active State Department warnings.

Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi

Avoid logging into sensitive accounts or making purchases on public Wi-Fi networks, which can expose your data to hackers. Use a VPN if you need to access important accounts.

Use Authorized Transportation

Only take registered taxis with working meters and avoid unregulated minibus services. Research reputable tour providers before booking excursions.

Be Cautious With Money Exchanges

Avoid exchanging money on the street, where you may be given counterfeit bills. Use an ATM or kiosk inside a reputable bank.

Avoid Unnecessary Risks

Don’t trek alone in remote areas or go out after dark in unfamiliar places. Trying to save money is not worth compromising your safety.

Keep Photocopies of Documents

Carry photocopies of your passport, visa, travel insurance policy and other important documents. Leave the originals securely locked in your hotel.

How to Stay Safe in Unfamiliar Places

While exciting, visiting very foreign or isolated destinations poses additional challenges. Here are tips for staying safe when traveling in unfamiliar places:

Research Safe Neighborhoods

Consult guidebooks, travel blogs or your hotel to identify safe neighborhoods for lodging and sightseeing. Avoid wandering into risky areas.

Prearrange Airport Transfers

Having an airport pickup with a trusted driver reduces your chances of being scammed or taken to the wrong location.

Check in With Loved Ones

Frequently update friends and family about your trip. Establish check-in times so they know to raise an alarm if they don’t hear from you.

Save Emergency Numbers

Program any local emergency numbers into your phone, including police, ambulance, fire department, and emergency hotlines.

Avoid Dark, Remote Areas

Stick to well-lit streets and public spaces, especially at night. Don’t take shortcuts through dark alleys or isolated roads.

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t feel pressured to go anywhere that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Listen to your gut feelings about people or places.

How to Avoid Scams While Traveling

While most locals you encounter will be friendly, tourists are vulnerable to scams by con artists posing as police, taxi drivers, or helpful bystanders. Here are some common travel scams and how to avoid them:

The Pickpocket Scam

Thieves will distract you by asking for directions or bumping into you, then pickpocket your wallet or phone. Keep valuables in front pockets or a hidden money belt.

The Overcharging Taxi Scam

Dishonest cab drivers may try to charge outrageously high fares, claiming the meter is “broken.” Negotiate fares upfront and take registered taxis whenever possible.

The Fake Tour Guide Scam

At tourist sites, scammers may pretend to be an authorized tour guide and then demand payment. Only take tours from official offices, never someone who approaches you.

The Charity Scam

You may be presented with a petition or asked to donate to a fake charity for the disabled or orphaned children. Politely decline and walk away.

The Timeshare Scam

High-pressure salespeople will offer free dinners or discounts to get you to tour a timeshare property, then aggressively push you to buy. Just say no.

The Pick-Up Scam

A friendly local offers to take you to a bar or show you around, then brings you to a seedy venue and demands a large payment. Never go off with strangers.

How to Stay Safe from Crime While Traveling

While violent crime is rare in most destinations, tourists are often targets of petty theft and pickpocketing. Use these tips to stay safe from crime while traveling:

  • Remain alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowds and tourist areas.
  • Avoid flashing expensive jewelry, cameras, phones or other valuables.
  • Carry bags across your chest, not dangling off your shoulder.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Leave unnecessary cards and IDs at home.
  • Be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging currency.
  • Try to travel in groups. Avoid walking alone or taking deserted streets.
  • Research any neighborhoods with high crime rates and avoid them.
  • Don’t leave drinks unattended in bars or accept open drinks from strangers.
  • Trust your instincts and leave if a place seems unsafe or sketchy.

Taking basic precautions will help deter opportunistic thieves looking to take advantage of tourists.

How to Stay Safe from Illness While Traveling

You can have an amazing trip abroad without getting sick by taking these precautions for staying safe from illness while traveling:

  • Get all recommended vaccinations for your destination at least 2 months prior.
  • Drink sealed bottled water and avoid raw fruits/vegetables that could be contaminated.
  • Avoid potentially contaminated food like undercooked meat or unpeeled fruits.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently, especially before eating.
  • Pack insect repellent and sunscreen to prevent bites and burns.
  • Check government advisories about disease outbreaks like malaria or dengue fever.
  • Travel with basic medications like dehydration salts, antidiarrheals, antacids and pain relievers.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of serious illnesses like malaria or meningitis. Seek immediate treatment if they appear.
  • Arrange emergency medical evacuation insurance in case you become critically ill abroad.

Following food and water precautions, getting vaccinated, and packing proper medications will help you stay healthy and avoid ruined plans.

How to Stay Safe in Emergencies While Traveling

Despite your best efforts, emergencies can still occur during travel. Here are tips for staying safe if you encounter an emergency while traveling:

  • Learn basic emergency phrases like “help!” and “call a doctor!” in the local language.
  • Keep local emergency numbers handy in your phone, wallet or purse.
  • Know the address and contact details of your accommodation to give responders.
  • Review emergency evacuation procedures at hotels, cruise ships or tour companies.
  • Have emergency cash on hand in case ATMs are unavailable.
  • Arrange emergency medical transport coverage through travel insurance.
  • Subscribe to travel alerts from the U.S. embassy about natural disasters, civil unrest or terrorism threats.
  • Have a communication plan with loved ones in case of emergencies while abroad.
  • Pack essential medications, first aid supplies, flashlights and other emergency gear.
  • Remain calm and vigilant in crises like natural disasters, civil unrest or terrorist attacks.

By preparing for emergencies before your trip, you can respond quickly and safely if an emergency does occur.


While embracing new adventures, travelers must also be cautious and aware. With proper preparation and vigilance, you can greatly reduce your risk of encountering danger. Do your research, use common sense, trust your instincts and take basic precautions. Staying safe allows you to fully immerse yourself in new cultures without fear holding you back. Have an amazing trip!