7 steps to improve your safety when travelling abroad

Updated 18 Jul 2017 – By Contributor - Faye Kwan


Airline regulations and customer service have, arguably, been the most popular topic of discussion the past week or so. Stories ranging from the viral United Airlines manhandling fiasco (and recently, another story involving an engaged couple being booted from a flight) to more feel-good tales like Etihad Airways’ excellent customer service have been making headlines around the world.

However, millions of people manage to board their flights safely everyday, with a plethora of airlines readily available with just a click online (TripAdvisor just named the best airlines in the world based on travellers’ reviews).

But once you reach your destination and step out of the airport, who’s to ensure that you’ll have a safe and happy trip overseas? We’re not looking to cause any worry, but anything can happen. Here, we’ve listed several steps for a fuss-free holiday abroad:

1) Make copies of important documents

Photostat your passport and IC, leaving one copy at home and bringing one with you on your trip. Leave the originals in a hotel safe or Airbnb locker, and only use it for the airport. Keep a scan of it in your e-mail for good measure.

Nothing’s worse than having your bags stolen on a holiday, but in the case it does happen, at least you’ll have access to these important documents at all times.

2) Do your research!

7 steps to improve your safety when travelling abroad

It may be common sense to turn to Google before confirming your holiday, but it’s also important to continue researching for latest deals and updates, even after you’ve reached your destination. Most hotels and Airbnbs offer free wifi (if not in your private room, then in the lobby/common room) so make use of it by looking up on local news reports to take note of any crimes or security risks nearby.

3) Keep loved ones updated

By sharing your itinerary details with people you trust, they’ll be informed of your plans, routes and whereabouts despite the distance. It allows them to look out for any additional information on your behalf. There’s bound to be connectivity issues or difficulties communicating in real time due to time-zone differences, so this is also a way to keep them sane, should any threatening news get to them before you do.

4) Invest in travel insurance

7 steps to improve your safety when travelling abroad

Now we don't mean to scare anyone looking to travel, but the truth is that many things can go wrong on a holiday. This may be an expensive step to take, but travel insurance protects you from a wide range of situations – these include delays, cancellations, losses (read: the mysterious disappearance of MH370) and medical expenses, to name a few.

It all depends on the type of insurance you purchase. You can always refer to an insurance representative or travel agent to compare your options and confirm the best plan that’s most relevant to your travel needs.

5) Get a local sim card

7 steps to improve your safety when travelling abroad

As helpful as maps are, new places are often popping up and the ones offered at the airport/hotel aren’t necessarily the most updated. Good company that’s in the flesh is always fun, but your smartphone is your ultimate best friend overseas (and we’re not talking about using it to be anti-social and avoiding awkward conversations).

It’ll come in handy if you find yourself down an unfamiliar street or want to report a crime, as it provides easy access to maps, travel blogs and contacts back home.

It also saves space and weight: that book on common Japanese phrases from Kinokuniya may have taught you a lot, but it’s not as easy to carry around as your phone, especially in crowded public transportation!

6) Never keep your cash in one place

In the event where you find yourself a victim of foreign theft, keeping your credit cards and money in different places will guarantee you safe and stable funds throughout your trip.

One tip is to divide the total and store them separately in safes, suitcases or jacket pockets — just remember to make a mental note of where everything is, otherwise you might involuntarily end up leaving the cleaner a generous tip!

7) Avoid sharing too much info on social media

And this means *gasp* staying off social networking sites for a bit. A picture or two and a status update is fine, but it’s best to fight away the urge to “check in” every time you’re at a new cafe or famous landmark. Never provide a live feed of your whereabouts and activities, as personal information always stands the chance of being accessed by suspicious characters.

Stay strong, you can resist temptation! We have faith in you.

To conclude

There’s no guarantee that these tips will protect you entirely… but at the very least, you’ll know that you’ve tried your best, and made better-informed choices for the safety of you and your loved ones. Stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings, but most importantly: ignore those e-mails from work and have fun!

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