So you’re about to jet off on an amazing trip to the other side of the world and you can barely contain your excitement – excellent, that’s exactly how you should be feeling! But now that your family knows you’re going for definite and the fear of waving off their little pumpkin (all 6’2” of you) to mysterious and unknown lands has set in, they’ll need some reassurance you’ll be able to look after yourself while you’re away. So read our top tips for staying safe on your travels, remember and recite them and show your family what a responsible adult you are...
1 Keep in touch
Make like E.T and phone home once in a while. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, these days the majority of hostels, cafes and bars abroad have free WiFi to use so you can contact home using Facetime, Skype, What's App etc. for free! It’s always worth giving friends and family a copy of your itinerary before you travel for their peace of mind as well as yours (or just to make them jealous if nothing else!).
Have at least two copies of all your important documents – things like photocopies of your passport, plane tickets, travel insurance, vaccination record, and contact information/addresses/emergency details. Put one set in your luggage and keep the others on you – in your day bag or backpack. It's also a good idea to email yourself a copy or upload them online (to a Google Drive or Dropbox) so you're able to access them wherever you are in the world.
3 Divide your assets
We don’t advise you to travel with large wads of cash, but you won’t always have access to an ATM or be able to use your card at every location, so having enough money to see you through a few days at a time is a good idea. Where possible, divide your cash up so that if you manage to leave your wallet at a bar, or unwittingly donate a pocketful of Baht to the sea, you’ll have a stash elsewhere to fall back on.
4 Firm but fair
It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and part with your hard-earned any time you come across a ‘unique’ little market stall, or whenever a charming fruit trader approaches you with some exotic (but unidentifiable) produce, but you’ll soon tire of people trying to sell you their wares unless you learn to say no every now and then. You don’t have to be rude, just say ‘no thank you’ in a firm and confident manner and walk away with purpose and meaning (without bumping into anything, otherwise the effect is completely lost).
5 A little respect
Remember, your travels will take you to wild and wonderful places, some of which take religion and culture very seriously, so do your best to respect dress codes, customs and gestures in certain areas. If you’re unsure you can always check with your tour guide, but generally: gals keep your shoulders/chest/thighs covered, lads stick your top back on, all of you cover up tattoos, don’t parade around in clothes with potentially offensive slogans on them, remove your shoes if asked, and mind your p’s and q’s!
Despite popular belief that whilst travelling human beings can set off in any direction and return to safety hours later without so much as a road map is a little naive. You may think you’re as equipped as Marco Polo or Christopher Columbus (you’re not), or have a great sense of direction (not after a few tequila slammers you don’t), but to avoid getting lost please plot your route back to your accommodation and know how you’re going to get back before going out for the day or night. Before you leave your accommodation, ask for a hotel business card, these are useful to show to taxi drivers and often include a small street map showing the location of your hostel.
7 Stranger danger
Now we know you know this, but don’t accept sweets from strangers! Unless of course that stranger happens to be offering you promotional goods from a reputable company or small business. Don’t accept lifts, drugs, or offers of wild parties in unknown destinations – use your head and stick with members from your own group.
8 Forever friends
You’ll meet some amazing people on your travels, some you’ll even keep in touch with beyond your trip, so take the opportunity to make friends with these guys – you’ll get more out of your experience, and feel safer with people around you that you trust. Plus, it’s always handy to have someone tell you you’re being a moron when midnight swimming after a night out seems like a good idea.
Above all have fun, stay safe, and don’t forget to tell us what an awesome time you’re having!