25 Important Travel Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

Best Travel Safety Tips
Travel Safety Tips to Keep You Safe
Travel Tips

After traveling the world for the past 10-years, I’ve learned a lot about staying safe – sometimes the hard way. Here are my best travel safety tips for avoiding trouble on your trip.

The CDC still recommends against international travel, however there are some countries opening up for American tourists. Traveling during a pandemic requires a few extra steps to stay safe.

Nothing ruins an adventure quicker than getting sick, scammed or robbed!

One time in Panama, some women distracted me at a bar while stealing my laptop from a backpack. I thought it was gone, until this happened months later. I got lucky.

In Mexico, a pickpocket grabbed my iPhone on the street. I managed to get that back too, chasing the thief down the road screaming like a maniac and brandishing a bottle of tequila! LOL.

You don’t even need to travel internationally to have bad stuff happen. In Miami Beach, my camera was stolen when I wasn’t paying attention.

After many years traveling the world, I’ve grown accustomed to deceitful taxi drivers, two-faced tour guides, insincere offers of help, and an occasional theft or scam.

For the most part, the world is a pretty safe place for travelers. I don’t want to scare you too much! However, it’s wise to be prepared.

With that in mind, here are my best travel safety tips to help minimize your chances of something bad happening to you during your travels.

Top Travel Safety Tips For 2020

Avoid Scams to Stay Safe
Research Local Scams

1. Learn Common Travel Scams

Wherever you go in the world, you’ll always find people ready to trick you out of your hard-earned cash. If you’re lucky, they’ll be kinda obvious – but there are plenty of craftier, professional con-artists out there too.

Everyone thinks they’re too smart to be scammed — but it happens.

Here are some of the most common travel scams I’ve come across. I recommend you learn them all – then fire up the Google and do even more in-depth research into the worst scams happening at your specific destination.

For example, the milk scam in Cuba. “Broken” taxi meters in Costa Rica. Or the famous ring scam in Paris. Every country has its own special scams to watch out for!

Forewarned is forearmed, and this research can help defend you from being tricked out of hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars (while suffering the kind of frustration and misery that ruins a dream trip).

2. Write Down Emergency Info

If disaster strikes, you might not have time to search for numbers for local police or ambulance services, or directions to the nearest embassy for your country. You may also be too stressed and panicky to think straight.

Don’t put yourself in that position. Instead, record that information in advance, and create an “Emergency Plan” for you to follow if things go badly. Save it on your phone somewhere (I use the Evernote App).

I also recommend you write it down on a small card or sheet of paper, get it laminated (easily done at your local office supply store) to protect it from moisture, and keep it in your wallet/purse.

You can also save the information on a small USB thumb drive, along with copies of your passport and other important documents.

That way, if something goes wrong while traveling, you’ll always have access to your documents, plus know exactly who to call and where to go for help.

3. Check The State Department Website

Travel Advisory Site
Check for Travel Advisories

The U.S. Department of State has a travel advisory page for every country in the world, where it lists all known difficulties and current threats to the safety of visitors.

However, a big caveat for this one: it’s the State Department’s job to warn you about everything that could go wrong, which is sometimes different to what is likely to go wrong.

This means their advice is generally on the hyper-cautious side. Factor that in, while you dig up more on-the-ground information.

But researching travel warnings will give you a general idea of what’s going on in the country you’re visiting, and specific problem areas you may want to avoid.

For example, just because certain parts of Thailand or Mexico have problems, doesn’t mean you should completely avoid those countries altogether.

4: Lock Up Your Valuables

Keep Your Gear Safe
Lock Up Expensive Stuff

Putting aside the fact that traveling with anything super valuable is usually a bad idea, there will always be something you absolutely cannot afford to have stolen. I travel with a lot of expensive camera gear for example.

Your job is to minimize the easy opportunities for theft.

Firstly, know that most travel backpacks aren’t very secure. It’s easy to feel that a zipped, even locked bag is a sufficient deterrent to any thief, and doze off next to it. Waking up to find someone’s slashed a hole in the side!

Unless it’s a slash-proof backpack, the material can be cut or torn by anyone determined enough. Many zippers can be forced open with sharp objects like a writing pen.

Always be aware of your valuables, and try to keep an eye on them in such a way that it would be impossible for someone to steal without you knowing. I’ll use my backpack as a pillow on train/bus routes that have a reputation for theft, and will sometimes lock it to a seat using a thin cable like this.

Secondly, call your accommodation to ask about secure storage options like a room safe, lockers, or a locked storage area. Carry your own locker padlock when staying at backpacking hostels.

5: Get Travel Insurance

You never think you need it, until you do. If you’re really worried about the safety of yourself and your gear while you travel, you can almost completely relax if you have some good insurance.

People ask me all the time if I’m worried about traveling with an expensive computer and camera. I was, when I didn’t have insurance for them. Now that I do, I’m not worried. If stuff gets stolen, it will get replaced.

Everyone should carry some kind of health and property insurance when traveling. Why? Because shit happens. Whether you think it will or not. It doesn’t matter how careful you think you are.

My recommendation is Safety Wing for short-term travel insurance. They make it super easy to buy online. (They also cover COVID-19!)

If you’re going to be traveling for a long time (like as a digital nomad), there are good long-term options like expat health insurance from Safety Wing Remote Health mixed with photography/computer insurance from TCP Photography Insurance.

6: Ask Locals For Advice

Travel Safety Tips Asking Locals
Hanging Out in Palestine

If you really want to know which neighborhoods are safe and which might be sketchy, ask a local resident of the area.

Most locals are friendly, and will warn you about straying into dangerous areas. On the other hand, if a stranger offers up advice, it’s also wise to get a second opinion – just in case they don’t really know what they’re talking about but simply wanted to help (or worse, are trying to scam you).

Taxi drivers can be hit or miss in this regard. Some can be excellent sources for good information, others are miserable assholes who might actually lead you into trouble.

I’ve found that hostel or hotel front desk workers are generally pretty good sources for local advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask them which parts of the city to avoid, how much taxi fares should cost, and where to find a great place to eat!

7: Register With Your Embassy

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, from the U.S. Department of State, is designed to make a destination’s local embassy aware of your arrival and keep you constantly updated with the latest safety information.

It’s free, it’s available for all U.S. citizens and nationals living abroad, and it’s a great way to get reliable, up to date safety information as you travel, along with an extra level of security in case of emergencies.

Canada has it’s own version, called Registration Of Canadians Abroad.

That way if an emergency happens, like a natural disaster or terrorist attack, the local embassy can get a hold of you quickly to share important information or help with evacuation.

8: Email Your Itinerary To Friends/Family

Camping on a Volcano
Mom, I’m camping on a Volcano!

Once you’ve worked out where you’re going and when, make sure someone else knows too.

The best way is to email the full itinerary to a few family members (and double-check with them that they received it – don’t just assume it landed in their Inbox, make sure it did). Then, if you can, check in from time to time.

Before I travel anywhere, I make sure my parents know where I’m going, what my general plans are, and when I should be back.

That way, if they don’t hear from me for a few days after I’m supposed to return, they can help notify the proper local authorities, the embassy, etc.

9: Don’t Share Too Much With Strangers

If you’re ever tempted to make your itinerary more public, say in a Facebook post, just remember it can be a roadmap of your movements – just the sort of thing someone with ill-intentions would love to know.

I also don’t recommend sharing too many details about your travel plans or accommodation details with people you’ve just met. For example, don’t tell a local shop owner or street tout where you’re staying when asked.

If someone does ask, rather than be rude, you can be vague about an area of town rather than the name of your hotel. Or lie and name a hotel you’re not actually staying at.

Sometimes people will ask if it’s your first time visiting their country or city. If you don’t trust them yet, you can pretend it isn’t your first trip. Because sharing that you’re new might also signal you’re a good target for scams.

When feeling vulnerable in a strange place, little white lies won’t hurt.

10: Don’t Do Stupid Things For Photos

Dangerous Photos for Instagram
Taking Risks for Photos…

In the age of Instagram & TikTok, it often feels like tourists are engaging in increasingly riskier activities just for likes on social media. Every week now you hear about people falling off cliffs or getting attacked by wildlife because they were trying to get an awesome photo.

Know your personal limits! Don’t do stupid things that have a high potential to get you hurt or killed. I’ll admit I enjoy a bit of risk now and then, but I try to be smart about it.

Don’t stand on the edge of a cliff if it’s windy or looks unstable. Pay attention to posted signs and warnings wherever you go. Keep your distance from wildlife, because animals are unpredictable.

Put yourself in the shoes of the locals, be respectful of the places you visit, and don’t trespass on private property either.

11: Splurge On Extra Safety

If you’re traveling as a budget backpacker, like I was, it can be tempting to save as much money as possible with the cheapest accommodation, the cheapest flights, the cheapest activities.

But it’s important to know that this isn’t always the safest way to travel.

Ultra cheap backpacker hostels aren’t always the safest places. I’ve stayed in some without locks on the doors, that felt like make-shift homeless shelters for drug addicts and other seedy people.

Budget flights can often arrive in the middle of the night — usually not the best time to be hailing down a cab in a dangerous city and hoping the driver doesn’t abduct you.

Sometimes it’s worth the extra few bucks to splurge on a slightly better hostel, a more convenient flight, a taxi home from the bar, or a tour operator with a strong safety record.

12: Be Aware Of Your Clothing

Conservative Clothing for Travel
Anna Trying the Traditional Omani Abaya

When it comes to travel, the wrong clothes scream “TOURIST” and make you a target for scammers, thieves and worse. The less obviously a visitor you look, the less attention you’ll get from the wrong kind of people.

Wearing the right clothes is a sign of respect. Many Islamic countries have specific dress code guidelines that are often strictly enforced – and other destinations have laws that may catch you out (for example, walking topless through the streets of Barcelona is illegal for both sexes).

However, it’s possible to stay within the law and still offend locals with what you’re wearing – generating a lot of hostility towards you in the process. Ignoring local customs can come across as both arrogant and ignorant.

In conservative countries, it’s just safer to dress more conservatively yourself. Obviously as a foreigner you’re still going to stand out a bit, but much less than those who ignore the local customs.

Start by checking out Wikipedia’s general advice on clothing laws by country – and then narrow down your research until you find someone giving advice you can trust, ideally a resident or expat turned local.

13: Stay “Tethered” To Your Bag

Most quick snatch-and-run type robberies happen because the thief can do it easily, and has time to get away. Therefore, anything that slows them down will help prevent it in the first place.

If you can keep your bag tethered to something immovable at all times, and do so in a really obvious way, thieves will consider it way too risky a job – and leave you alone.

A simple and effective method is to use a carabiner clip. Even a regular strap around your leg or chair.

It doesn’t need to be secured with a steel cable and padlock all the time, just attached to something that will make a snatch-and-run attempt too difficult.

14: Learn Basic Self-Defense

Travel Safety Self Defense
Learning to Box in Johannesburg

You don’t need black-belt skills, but joining a few self defense classes is a worthwhile investment in your personal safety. Some good street-effective styles to consider are Krav Maga or Muay Thai.

Next, learn WHEN to apply it. Just because you can kick someone’s ass, doesn’t mean you should in all situations. In the words of author Sam Harris:

“Do whatever you can to avoid a physical confrontation, but the moment avoidance fails, attack explosively for the purposes of escape.”

A great way to neutralize a threat is to get yourself as far away as physically possible. If someone with a gun or knife just wants your phone, give it to them, run away, and live another day.

Use force only when your life is threatened & there are absolutely no other options available.

If you want an extra level of personal security, pick up a tactical pen (and learn how to use it). I often carry one, and it doesn’t set off any alarms when going through customs.

15: Project Situational Awareness

Did you know that a majority of human communication is based on non-verbal body language? This projection of confidence can prevent you from becoming a target.

Keep your head up, stay alert, and aware of you’re surroundings. When you’re confident, potential attackers can sense it through your body language and eye contact.

Most will choose to move on and find an easier victim to attack.

In many places, making direct eye contact with potential threats can help ward off an attack, ensuring they notice you see them and what they may be planning. Yet in other parts of the world, too much eye contact might invite trouble…

Generally you should stay aware of who is around you, walk with a purpose, and don’t look worried, lost, or scared (even if you feel that way) — but I’d also avoid staring contests with sketchy looking strangers.

16: Tell Your Bank Where You’re Going

Travel Safety with Your Money
Protecting Your Money

Imagine the agony of doing absolutely everything right and keeping yourself perfectly safe and secure – only to have your trip ruined because your bank thinks you’re the thief, and locks down all your cards.

If this happens and you’re lucky, you’ll be asked security questions to determine your identity. The rest of the time, you’ll get a notification from the bank’s fraud detection team that irregular activity has been recorded on your card, and they’ve put a hold on all transactions until the situation is resolved – which might take days.

The solution is simple. Most online banking services have a facility for letting the bank or credit card provider know about your upcoming travels. Make sure you use it, shortly before leaving – and keep them in the loop if your travel plans change.

I also recommend using your debit card at the airport ATM machine as soon as you arrive in a new country, as this also helps let the bank know you’re traveling.

READ MORE: Travel Banking Tips & Advice

17: Hide Emergency Cash

While it’s good to do everything you can to prevent worst case scenarios – it’s equally smart to assume it’ll happen and plan ahead for it. This is the thinking behind having an emergency stash of funds, stored in a safe place.

Some of my favorite hiding places include:

How much emergency cash? This will be personal preference, but I usually prefer $200 spread out in 2 different places. Some hidden on me, some hidden in my bag. A hidden backup credit card is wise too.

Now if things got really dire, and everything’s gone, what then? You call up a friend or family member, and ask them to send you the emergency money you left with them before you went traveling, via a Western Union or Moneygram transfer.

Hopefully it will never come to that. But these things do happen occasionally, and it’s better to practice safe travel techniques than to remain ignorant about the possibility.

18: Food & Water Safety

Food Travel Safety Tips
Staying Safe While You Eat

After traveling extensively the last 10-years, to over 50 countries, eating all kinds of weird stuff, I’ve only had food poisoning a couple of times.

Don’t be scared of the food when you travel! In fact, eating strange new foods can be a highlight for many people on their adventures around the world.

My food-obsessed friend Jodi recommends the following tips:

  • Eat at popular places with long lines
  • Try to watch how your food is prepared
  • Pack translation cards to express your allergies
  • Fully cooked food is always the safest
  • Only eat peel-able fruit to avoid bacteria

I also recommend getting a filtered water bottle. In many modern cities around the world the water is safe to drink, but outside of those places it often isn’t.

Sure, you could keep buying bottled water everywhere you go, but that plastic waste is a huge environmental problem. Why not get one sturdy filtered bottle, and re-use it for years?

It pays for itself and saves the environment at the same time!

19: Use ATMs Wisely

You may have been told to cover your hand when keying in your PIN number at an ATM. That’s good advice worth following, both for others looking over your shoulder, as well as hidden cameras trying to record your pin.

Always take a close look at ATM machines before you use them. Pull on the card reader a bit. Does it have any questionable signs of tampering? If so, go into the bank and get someone to come out and check it (and then use another machine, regardless of what happens).

If an ATM machine appears to have eaten your card, run a finger along the card slot to see if you feel anything protruding. The “Lebanese Loop” is a trick where a thin plastic sleeve captures your card (preventing the machine from reading it) – then as soon as you walk away, a thief yanks it out and runs off with your card.

Another overlooked factor is where other people are when you’re at the machine. Can someone peer over your shoulder? Are they close enough they could grab the cash and run off?

If so, use another ATM elsewhere. Better safe than sorry! Never let anyone “help” you with your transaction either.

20: Stop Using Your Back Pocket

It’s the first place any pickpocket will check – and short of putting a loaded mousetrap in there (not recommended if you forget and sit down), the best way to deal with the dangers of having a back pocket is to never use it…

And if putting money in the back pocket of your pants is a habit you can’t seem to break, grab some needle and thread and sew it shut!

Your front pockets are a lot harder to steal from without being noticed.

If you’re REALLY worried, or plan to travel to a city where pickpockets run rampant, you can wear a money belt. I’m not a fan, but I know many who use them for peace of mind.

21: Travel In Numbers

Travel Safety Tips & Advice
Travel with Friends

The more people around you, the more eyeballs are on your valuables – and the more legs are available for running after thieves.

A group is also a much more intimidating physical presence, which helps ward off predators of all kinds. It will help to keep you safer than trying to go it alone in a foreign country.

If you’re traveling solo, consider making some new friends and go exploring together.

Staying at backpacker hostels is an excellent way to make some new friends. Often you’ll find other solo travelers there, who may want to do some of the same activities you want to.

However, I’d also like to highlight the importance of not trusting new people TOO quickly. There are some professional scammers who use the backpacker trail to take advantage of other travelers looking for a friend.

Don’t leave your expensive or important stuff with someone you just met. No matter how friendly they seem.

22: Pack A First Aid Kit

Injuries can happen when you travel abroad, not matter how careful you are. That’s why traveling with a basic first aid kit is always a good idea.

You don’t need to go crazy and bring your own needles and scalpels, but stocking the basics to treat cuts, sprains, stomach issues, and burns can help if you or people around you may need them.

I prefer a basic waterproof adventure first aid kit with a few additions of my own:

  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Re-hydration salts
  • Anti-histamine tablets
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Extra pain pills (Ibuprofen)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Small tube of petroleum jelly (helps prevent blisters)

23: Stay (Relatively) Sober

Stay Sober for Travel Safety
Enjoying Happy Hour in Madrid!

Getting too drunk or high when you travel is almost always unacceptably risky. If you’re wasted, you’re not present, and anything could be happening around you (or to you).

I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself. Hell I have plenty over the years! Just do it responsibly, stay hyper-aware of how much you’re consuming, keep hydrated & fed, and make sure you don’t lose control of the situation.

Harder drugs are especially risky — it’s a good way to get in trouble with the police, who may not be as forgiving (or even law-abiding) as authorities back home. Not to mention having to deal with potentially nefarious people who are providing those drugs — and their own alternative motives.

On a similar note, if you’re partial to late nights out partying until pre-dawn hours, be careful assuming that unfamiliar destinations will be as forgiving as back home.

Many generally safe destinations (especially ones filled with tourists) become far less secure late at night – and if you’re stumbling around intoxicated, you’re far less aware of your surroundings – and a VERY easy target for all kinds of bad stuff.

24: Trust Your Instincts!

This one is easily overlooked – and incredibly important.

You are a walking surveillance network. Your body sees and hears more things than you could ever process into coherent thought. Let’s call it your “spidey sense” — the ability to sense danger.

Your body might sense signs of danger before your brain is fully aware.

This is why gut feelings are always worth examining! If you’re feeling uneasy and you don’t know why, try not to write it off as irrational fear. Stop and pay closer attention to the situation. Can you figure out what the problem is?

It’s easy to dismiss your instincts as “silly”. Never treat them as such. Those gut feelings and intuition have kept humans safe for millions of years.

25: Travel Safety For Women vs. Men

Safety for Women while Traveling
Travel Safety for Women

All the tips on traveling safely above are equally important for both men and women. I don’t think the ability to travel safely should be focused on gender.

Unfortunately women are victims of violence everywhere, including here in the United States & Canada. Traveling doesn’t necessarily increase that threat, it simply changes the location.

Women worried about being assaulted or harassed might prefer to visit a local street bazaar or nightclub in a group rather than alone. Especially if it’s a common problem for the area.

I know some women who feel safer carrying a safety whistle and door stop alarm when they travel solo too.

However men also have specific safety concerns they need to watch out for, related to their egos. Like getting goaded into a physical fight that isn’t necessary. Or being scammed by a beautiful woman.

Travel safety is really about staying street smart, prepared for the unexpected, and minimizing your exposure to risky situations in a new and unfamiliar country.

A Few Words About Risk…

Risk and Travel Safety
Trekking in Greenland

If you want to travel, you cannot avoid risk. There is no way to be 100% safe from any threat, in any part of life. Risk is an integral part of adventure too.

This means when you hit the road, you’re bound to get scammed sooner or later, or find yourself in unexpectedly challenging circumstances. It happens to all of us.

Risk is unavoidable – but it can be managed, so you can stay safer.

How do most people hear about events in other countries? It’s usually through the news. This is a big problem, because the media is biased – but not the way politicians would like you to believe.

The media reports on unusual events (most often negative ones). Things get featured in the news because they rarely happen. That’s the definition of “newsworthy”.

If the news was truly representative of what’s happening in the world, 99.9% of each report would sound like: “Today in Namib-istan, absolutely nothing dangerous happened, and everyone had a perfectly normal day – yet again.”

The news media makes other countries feel a lot less safe than they really are. In fact, the world seems to be getting safer every decade, according to data collected by economist Max Roser and psychologist Steven Pinker.

This isn’t saying that bad things don’t happen. It’s saying they’re usually a misleading representation of what normally happens.

Don’t believe the over-hype. Generally speaking, it’s never been a safer time to travel! So get out there with your new-found knowledge, enjoy your trip with confidence. ★

Travel Planning Resources

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.

Book Your Flight

Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Cheap Accommodation

Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.

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25 Travel Safety Tips You Need To Know. More at ExpertVagabond.com
25 Travel Safety Tips You Need To Know. More at ExpertVagabond.com


I hope you enjoyed my guide on travel safety tips! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about travel safety? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (56)

  1. Seriously detailed safety tips. I can’t agree enough on the scam part. You have to be so careful.

    We got into a very tricky situation in Albania with an Airbnb host we thought was being super nice due to the lock down. He ended up trying to rob us.

    Always ask questions and if it doesn’t feel right then trust your gut.

  2. Stunning points for the traveling! In addition to this, always update with the latest information regarding the country where you visit that what’s happening around you.

  3. Hiding emergency cash is seriously very important. One of my friend traveled to Turkey and got mugged. All the cash he had was in his bag pack.

    • That sucks Kevin! I agree it’s very important to have backups elsewhere. Always recommend being prepared for the worse case scenarios, just in case.

  4. Great information, talking about scams, you need to be just as careful when approached by people handing out scratch cards. We fell into this trap. We were told we had won a prize and were then escorted to an office and sat through 4 hours of intense selling. We felt so much pressure and we ended up buying into a holiday club membership we didn’t want. The whole experience was a nightmare and had to use a claims company to get out of it. They helped us but would rather of not had to of dealt with all of this in the first place. My advise, if anyone offers you a freebie, don’t trust it. Nothing is ever free.

    • Hmmm. Put it in a hotel room door to keep anyone from coming in, maybe an employee with a key? It’s doesn’t weigh much.

  5. I’m planning on traveling Europe and have been researching how long an American can stay in each country without a need for a VISA. If I follow these timelines is a passport really all I need? I have saved all your travel tips. I’m going to be traveling with my mother and I want to make sure we are safe. We are both financially independent and should be able to rent a safe place to stay. Can I trust the online sites showing rentals or should I wait until I get there to look?

    • Frances
      As an American yes for most of Europe you will only need a passport. And Your US government web site will give you up to date lengths of time you can stay in each country.

      Should also you up to date info on any travel warning etc etc

  6. This is very helpful especially for someone who is planning to go to an adventure alone for the first time, thank you!

  7. These travel tips are very helpful! thank you for sharing the post and will keep this in mind when we travel again for this year.

  8. Nice Blog I really loved it, Because I am traveling out of Country First time so it becomes very helpful for me. Thank you for sharing

  9. Wonderful tips you have mentioned above. Keep writing such kind of useful information on your site. I am truly impressed by it.

  10. Love the list. Have to say that following your gut will work most of the time. Funny how humans are so tuned into dangerous situations.

    Food poisoning has always been my biggest safety issue, so far (knock on wood). Especially since I love my Thai street food (som tam).

  11. Hello Matthew, I find these tips really helpful! #1 is totally a must, especially nowadays. Some of my friends have experienced being scammed by a broken taxi meter somewhere in Asia which is why I always try to be very cautious and alert whenever I go in that part of the world. There are also instances when abusive taxi drivers would trick you by taking the longest and most expensive route so it’s good to always look at a map and have an idea of the distance and direction before you go to your preferred destination.

  12. What a motivating call in the very end, after a long list of warnings, lol. I must say I’ve travelled not that much—only 5 countries in Europe and 1 in Asia. But for me it was enough to proudly call myself a brave female solo traveller. Luckily nothing seriously bad has happened to me so far. That’s probably owing to my constant extra-awareness, excellent intuition, and ability to make new friends at new places I visit. But your post makes me realize a great share of possible risks I was never expecting. So, instead of planning my next solo trip I am speculating about taking some basic self-defence classes and buying that rubber door stop along with a safety whistle and money belt.

    • It’s not a good idea to become completely paralyzed with fear about everything that COULD happen, but it’s wise to at least understand what’s possible. Knowledge is power!

  13. Very helpful tips! I find that while traveling the #1 thing is just to be aware of your surroundings and look confident.

  14. Great tips! We always take hydration tablets with us as we often find that we forget to water-up as we travel. Great tip with the back pocket too. Really loving your photos in this post too!

  15. Hi Matt, I enjoyed reading your Travel Safety Tips. As a Travel Agent, I found a few useful tips that I can pass on to my clients when travelling. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Travels. Tina :-)

  16. A great list of important details. It’s even more important when it’s written some experienced travellers like you. I added to my favorites. So i will use it as a checklist before i travel abroad for the next time.

  17. Thanks Matt this is a fantastic list and a good reminder even to those of us who travel alot. You’ve got me intrigued by the milk scam in Cuba! I’m going to have to Google it.

    • We had a lady try it out on us when we were in Cuba. If you don’t do research in advance, it’s easy to fall for some of these scams!

    • Basically, it’s just a really strong pen that can do some damage if you need it to. Better than nothing!

  18. Hey Matt! These are some amazing travel tips about safety! Some I knew about, some I didn’t. Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive list. I’ve been lucky to not really have any safety issues in my travels so far, but I will definitely be following some of these fairly closely without going overboard! Great read my friend!


    • Hopefully you will continue to avoid these crappy situations, and stay safe while traveling! Good luck Ron.

  19. Hi, great tips! We’re currently in Costa Rica devastated as our camera was stolen the other day in Mexico City. I thought I was super cautious, savvy and alert but these people are professionals!

    • It happens, no matter how prepared we are. All we can do is do our best. Sometimes even that isn’t enough!

      Sorry to hear you lost your camera! I’ve been there too, and it sucks.

  20. Some great tips Matt, we especially focus on the situational awareness one. We’ve grown accustomed to stepping off a bus at a bus station like we have real purpose, as if we know exactly where we are going. It means when the taxi drivers are hassling you, they can see you already know where you are going (even if you don’t) and they look for easier targets getting off the bus.

    So many times we see people get off a bus looking clueless which is ripe for a scam! We always just make for the terminal or a nearby building and scope out the scene from there. Usually we find walking a block or two from the station and hailing a tuk tuk/cab is far less threatening and easier to negotiate.

  21. Excellent!
    My mantra has always been: “Never drink to drunkenness and your new best friends probably aren’t.” It kept me safe in foreign ports as a merchant seaman and also as a solo traveler.
    I also carry a throw-away wallet with money, phoney credit cards, fake girlfriend pictures and such to give a thief if robbed. I use that wallet in my travels replenishing the cash from my secret money/credit card stash so there is never too much money in it…but enough for the day. It satisfied the thief the one time that I was robbed on the street.
    I don’t use my phone in public unless absolutely necessary, but have an old tablet for email and messaging.

    • Love it Steve! That’s a wise mantra right there. I too have used a “dummy” wallet sometimes in cities that are particularly notorious for theft.

  22. Saving yourself from pickpocketers and being misguided is the most important thing that should be taken care of while travelling.
    I loved your blog with real-time experiences that you have shared.

  23. I can’t believe how obvious some of these seem, yet I completely overlooked them. Thanks for the tips! Looking forward to my first solo adventure abroad in just 12 days.

  24. Being aware of your clothing is perhaps the best and the only tip you need to follow when in Middle East. I remember my time in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait when my wife has chosen to wear jeans. Although it was all-covering, she was still asked (although politely) to cover up and wear another outfit by the hotel authorities. It seemed very innocuous to me, but yes, it is important. Both the countries, however, are great to visit if you are a non-veg foodie. Anyways, great tips!

  25. Really helpful list! I think that having travel insurance is especially important just in case anything does happen.

    Before going to Thailand I wish I’d known about the tuk tuk scam. I found that out the hard way! So it’s always worth doing the research before setting off!

  26. Thanks for all the tips. Two years we are hitting the road. Right now we are practicing and gathering all the info we can. This will be be really helpful.

  27. Excellent tips, Matt! I stopped using my back pockets way back when I went to Mexico for the first time. This has served me well up until a month ago when May and I were in Mexico City. We took the metro for the first time and someone snatched my phone out of my front pocket just as we were boarding the train. I couldn’t believe it. It was like it had just disappeared. Now, if I ever decide to get on the metro again in CDMX (not likely), I’ll keep my hands in my pockets.

    Cool to see you enjoy Sam Harris! I’ve been a fan for a while now. Great quote about violence.

    • That sucks Jim! Some pickpockets are basically like magicians, and even the front-pocket is at risk. Oh yeah, I have to thank you again for that bottle of tequila that helped me get my own phone back in Playa del Carmen. Haha!

      • Excellent post. In Las Ramblas of Barcelona they are experts. Indeed Barcelona’s policement made a training for Brittish policement for the Olimpic Games 6 years ago! xD

  28. What great tips! I love this article. I also agree that women have to endure the same kind of harassment all over the world, it’s sad that’s the case.