Traveling to a new country can be overwhelming. Beyond your basic knowledge of a language, there are different sights and customs you need to be aware of. Planning gets very stressful! One of the most important things to take into account is your safety abroad. This blog will offer you four helpful tips so that you can travel safely and worry-free. 

Tip 1: VPNs & Dummy Emails

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There’s a high probability you’ll bring your electronic devices when you board your flight. While overseas, you’ll connect with various wireless networks, and that can potentially put your private information in jeopardy. This is why it’s important to protect your identity by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or creating a separate email account to use for sign-ups or travel information while you’re abroad. 

VPNs are great for cloaking your wireless presence from hackers. They’re simple to use and low cost. Alternatively, having a separate email to use limits how much information you share with those wireless connections. Think of it like a burner phone. To create a new Gmail account, you can simply add punctuation in different places of your usual email address! 

Tip 2: Backup a Copy of Your Passport

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Duplicating your passport and any additional traveling information helps reduce any risk in an emergency while you’re abroad. Sometimes, notifying your job or your family isn’t enough, and you’ll need to do more than say you’ll be gone for a week or two. When your family and friends have more direct access to your travel itinerary, it makes it easy for them to contact you or the authorities if anything happens. Always make sure your important contacts are saved as “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) when you travel, too. 

Having another copy of your passport is not only a benefit to your family, but it’s also an asset to you. If you ever lose your passport while traveling, you can count on your backup copy to save the day. Here’s a great list of which travel documents are the best to duplicate.

Tip 3: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

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Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a great way to stay safe abroad. If you’re a US citizen, STEP allows you to get in touch with the US Embassy in case of an emergency. This could involve any legal trouble, medical trouble, or natural disasters that occur during your trip. All you need to do is register your one-time trip on their website, fill out the information, and you’re all set. If you’re planning on recurring trips, then making an account on their website is just as easy. And the best part is, it’s entirely free. 

If you’re not a US citizen, always check whether your embassy offers similar security programs for you. Another alternative to STEP is making sure you have suitable travel insurance before going abroad. What type of travel insurance you may benefit from depends on the duration of your stay, how early in advance you’ve booked it, and where you intend to travel.   

Tip 4: Talk & Connect with Locals

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Building rapport with the locals around your hotel is another crucial way to stay safe on your trip. You may not have to be completely fluent in the language, but it’s still important to have a basic grasp of dialogue. As a tourist, especially your first time traveling abroad, you are always at risk of being scammed. Speaking with locals about regional information gives you an edge. You can gain information on which areas are safe for tourists and which areas you may want to avoid. 

It’s helpful to have a second opinion, though. Don’t blindly trust the advice you receive from just one person. You can ask around to see if their information matches up with others’. Front desk employees of your hotel, or other local shop establishments, are also great resources for local information. 

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