Throwback to our first holiday in Europe a decade ago. It was 7 pm and we had just landed in Rome. We had taken a train from Venice and our B&B was a few metro stops away, in a suburb close to the Vatican.Dragging our bags a little clumsily we reached our stop and were just ploughing through to the entrance. The station was dimly lit and there was hardly anyone out there. I was feeling a bit lost although I had researched quite a bit on holiday travel tips. Suddenly we saw a man, rather intimidating in fact , walking rather rapidly behind us. My husband felt something amiss and we started walking faster. The man kept following us at a steady pace. All of a sudden I found him right behind me and could feel his breath on my neck. And at that moment, a group of people walked in from the other side and this man suddenly vanished into the darkness. For a moment we were shaken although we were very grateful that no untoward incident happened. And yet every time I travel, be it solo or on a holiday, be it abroad or in my country, I am always cautious and wary and I read up on travel safety tips.
Photo credit – Stock photos from Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock
Travelling can be fun and exciting, but my antenna are always up when it comes to safety. And there are several reasons why one needs to be cautious these days on the road. Almost every crowded destination is a haven for pick pockets. Even a metro ride is not always safe. I have always felt a bit jittery taking a late night train in NYC or wandering in quiet alleys in Italy. However lets not be very morbid and look at ways to secure ourselves when we are travelling. Here are some safety tips for travellers, including tips for solo female travellers.
1.Have a dummy wallet
I was in Barcelona on a solo travel trip when one of my guides told me that she always carried a dummy wallet with her when she was travelling. She throws in a few fake or expired credit cards and some small change in the dummy wallet. She said that she kept this usually for small change and used it more in the open, when she was travelling solo. I sometimes do carry two wallets with me, one that has some small amounts of money while the actual cards and currencies are always in another purse. But that said, I always do not carry much currency with me. The credit card is usually accepted everywhere – whether to buy a postcard or a cup of coffee and I hardly take the cash out. In case you are carrying cash, please do not keep them all in the same bag or wallet and split them up. While this can be one of the important tips for solo female travellers, I also think they are very useful travel safety tips.
2. Be wary of your surroundings
This is one of the travel safety tips which is actually a no brainer. Thieves and pickpockets always operate in pairs. So be on the look out for any distraction. It could be the friendly old lady in a train, a charming street performer or even street vendors. While most of them could be really friendly, it is still prudent to stay wary and quiet. One of them might distract you while the other may steal from you. Some of them may start with a friendly conversation and before you know it, they may get aggressive. So always look out for the suspicious or the over friendly characters around you while you are travelling.
3. Read up on the tourist scams.
Personally these are one of the most important holiday travel tips and also important safety tips for travellers, be it families or solo women. There are several scams in each country that you can read about as well. While we were in Milan recently, a friend was almost accosted by a group of men who claimed to tie a friendship band. These men are usually in groups and sometimes they will just thrust it on you and then harass you for payment. They even take you to the closest ATM and demand for money. I had read about it online and when they approached me, I just ignored them and they finally let me be. Every city has a mix of old and new scams targeting tourists. You can actually read about them online before planning your trip and that will help you to recognise these seemingly innocent tactics as actually scams .
Photo Credit – Stock photos from Ira Yapanda/Shutterstock
4. Avoid using debit card overseas
I would not recommend using your debit card overseas and it is one of the best travel safety tips. You may carry it for emergency but I would suggest that you do not keep it in your regular wallet. Use your credit cards wisely and ensure that you have a record of all the transactions. Sometimes I carry a forex card with me as an alternative, just in case I need it as a back up. In case any of your cards get stolen, do let the respective banks know immediately so that they can block it.
5. Get yourself a Travel insurance
For me personally, travel insurance is the second most important document that I carry with me on my travels, after my passport . And while there are many travel insurances in the market, Tata AIG has emerged as a reliable brand. The biggest advantage is that it gives you quick service abroad as well as it has a large network globally who can give you local assistance. The policy coverage protects you from several other unpredictable situations that may arise during a trip. Claims are given high priority irrespective of the destination that you are in and they promise seamless claim settlement. They have coverage for beyond 80 years for travellers going abroad. There are two kinds of travel insurance – one which is travel insurance that includes all kind of travels. The other caters primarily to the needs of travellers going abroad. International travel insurance is an absolute necessity today and it is as important as getting a visa for any destination.
And besides all of these , my favourite all time travel companion who i rely on a lot is common sense. Let it instinctively guide you on your journeys. Safe and happy travels everyone ! What are the travel safety tips that you recommend ? Please share some holiday travel tips as well.
This post is written in partnership with Tata AIG.