Travel is always a risky venture, even if your flight goes perfectly according to plan with no hitches. The problem is that while a lot of people spend time worrying about whether their plane will stay in the air, they don’t give a lot of thought to all the other risk factors you need to think about when you’re on the move.
Here’s our updated guide to staying safe when you take your next trip:
First off, you should take a minute to bookmark the TSA’s travel site on your browser, and make a habit of checking for any new alerts before you book your tickets, and before you get on your flight. The government uses this site to issue travel risk assessments for different parts of the world, and it’s your way of knowing whether you should go through with your plans, regardless of whether something’s been in the news about your destination. You can also sign up to be updated whenever they change a threat or risk warning, which we think is the best choice for people who fly regularly.
When you travel, you obviously have to bring money in some form. We suggest keeping a small amount of emergency cash with you, but for the most part, you’ll be relying on your credit card to do transactions, and yes–we do definitely suggest credit cards over debit, because they’re much easier to resolve if you run into fraud. Before you pack your wallet, take some basic credit card precautions. Let your bank or card issuer know you’ll be travelling, especially if you’ll be abroad. That way, they won’t inadvertently shut your card off when they see a foreign transaction. You should also invest in RFID sleeves for all your cards, since chips are relatively easy to hack with a wireless device. RFID sleeves block the signal, which renders the method useless. It’s a good idea to do the same for your passport, so nobody can steal your identity digitally.
One safety tip we’re adding this year is to be super careful to check references and reviews on AirBnB, since we know many travelers have started using it as their first option. You should always go for a verified, preferred host where possible. In our opinion, it’s completely worth spending an extra few dollars per night to stay somewhere you can feel safe.
Finally, we can’t stress enough how important it is to take precautions with all your digital activity when you’re not in your own home or office. Public wifi networks are super convenient, but they’re also incredibly easy to hack and have your info intercepted. Never make payments or send valuable personal details on public wifi. If you’re going to be using internet services a lot while you’re traveling (and most of us will), you should invest in a VPN service. These apps let you use a private server to stay anonymous online, and keep your information safe from prying eyes watching the public streams.
Yes, we know, every single travel tip this year involves the internet. It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise, given how much we rely on the web for everything these days. It’s the primary tool of every traveller, which just means it’s also your biggest vulnerability.
As you add all these digital precautions to your checklist, don’t forget any of the older common-sense steps to take to stay safe, like making copies of personal documents, and keeping wallets somewhere that’s hard to pickpocket. These rules still apply, just make sure to update your whole safety routine for the digital age!