Before Traveling/To-Do at Home:

  • Check travel alerts in the area you’re visiting (e.g. the US State Department provides travel warnings and alerts for the country you plan to visit)
  • Share your travel itinerary with your family/friends before leaving & keep a hard copy of your itinerary
  • Get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads)
  • Get the Charles Schwab card: they reimburse you for any foreign transaction fees meaning that you can withdraw money at any ATM rather than at your own bank ATMs so you don’t need to carry as much money around or feel tethered to certain ATMs while traveling!
  • Research appropriate customs about the place you’ll visit: how to dress, how to act, etc. Then you can pack and act appropriately, and not as a tourist. If in doubt, wear what the local women wear.
  • Make photocopies of your credit cards/passport/important documents and share a copy with close friends/family before departing
  • If you’re American, sign up for the Smart Traveler program to enroll your trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate and get travel tips and warnings
  • Know your country’s embassy address and store their number on your phone and how to call the police
  • Download offline maps on google maps, and the app
  • Buy a personal portable safe for extra protection/deterrent from thieves. I bought this Master Lock Safe
  • Pack a scarf/sarong to cover up for temples, use as a blanket for airplanes and as a towel on a beach!
  • Carry a door stop with you to wedge under the door so no one can enter uninvited
  • Find out which safety devices are legal/illegal in the countries you’re visiting. I found out the hard way that pepper spray is illegal in Germany…

While Traveling:

  • Carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times so you don’t have to carry your real one with you
  • Carry your accommodation’s phone number and taxi numbers
  • Know a few basic key phrases in the language of the country/countries you’re visiting
  • Always use common sense and follow your intuition
  • Carry a small flashlight with you, and a back up battery pack to charge your phone. You never want your phone to die on you when you’re alone in a foreign country and can’t find your way home.
  • Carry a personal safety device: whistle
  • Take a photo of your cab license plate so if anything happens you can track it down
  • Better safe than sorry! It’s ok to be rude if you it makes you feel safe.
  • Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help! From security, the receptionist, a policeman, etc.
  • Keep all your valuables in front of you. In crowded spaces, always have your hand over the front flap of your purse or wallet, so no one can touch it without your noticing.
  • Carry money in separate places, and carry only as much cash as you need for the day. I leave the rest of my money in my personal safe where I’m staying.
  • Blend in: don’t wear provocative clothes, understand the local customs/culture so you know what is acceptable and respectful or not
  • Bring a small combination lock to lock your bag, or for a hostel locker
  • Avoid wearing brand name products or jewelry as you don’t want to show in any way that you have money or something that someone might want to steal
  • Limit your alcohol consumption- never take a drink from a stranger. If you leave your drink for the restroom, get a new one when you come back. When I’m traveling alone, I NEVER get drunk.
  • Stay confident! Look people in the eye as you pass them on the street. Attackers are looking for people who couldn’t identify them in a lineup.
  • If a van is parked on the driver’s side of your car, get in on the passenger’s side. The safest option would be to never walk to your car alone.
  • If you take an Uber/taxi/Lyft/car, have the driver drop you off a little bit ahead of your house/apt/airbnb. Usually when the driver is driving away, I walk towards my actual house and he has no idea where I live (from my friend)
  • Always pretend when you’re in transit that you know where you are going or that you are meeting someone. Never admit that you’re lost.

In your Accommodations:

  • Request a room above the ground floor (harder for someone to enter through a window)
  • Don’t go in emergency exits or staircases at night
  • Avoid getting hotel rooms on the first floor or any hotel room near the elevator.
  • Always book your accommodations at least one night in advance so you’re never stuck wandering around a strange town desperately looking for a place to stay – I use Airbnb, Hostelworld, HostelbookersAgoda or Expedia to find an affordable place to stay.
  • Keep your accommodation card/address with you
  • If you’re staying in a hotel, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on – it’s a small deterrence, better than nothing!
  • When first entering a room, secure all the windows and exits before you lock your room.
  • Ask the reception for any dangerous areas in town
  • Leave a pair of boots outside your house to give the impression that a man is living there if you are living alone (from a friend)

Female Traveler Communities:

If you have other travel tips, please let me know, and I’ll add it to this list!