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6 Travel Safety Tips

Travel can be an amazingly rewarding experience. However, visiting unfamiliar places comes with some risks. These six tips will help keep you safe while traveling.

1. Research Your Destination

It is important to familiarize yourself with your destination before you get there. Even if you are going on a trip where the destinations have been planned out for you, such as a Western Caribbean cruise it is a good idea to know what to expect. Traveler reviews are a good place to start. People who have actually visited your planned destination may share experiences that you won't hear about from travel agents or tourism sites. If you can, talk to people who live there to find out which areas are the safest and which are prone to crime. Review the State Department's website for advisories about specific countries and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Make sure you know who to call if an emergency happens. Find contact information for the closest police station, consulate or embassy and local emergency departments and carry it with you.

2. Bring Copies of Important Documents

You may have heard horror stories about travelers getting stuck in airports because they lacked the documentation needed to board a flight home. Make copies of your driver's license, passport and other important documents. Save them digitally and print out multiple hard copies. 

3. Don't Look Like a Tourist

People who look like tourists are often targeted by thieves and other criminals. Try to choose clothing that blends in with the locals, instead of advertising that you aren't from the area. If you need to look at a map or ask for directions, be discrete about it. Consider purchasing clothing and other items, such as a money belt, that are designed to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your money and other possessions. 

4. Tell People Where You Are Going

If something happens while you are traveling, the earlier you are missed by someone, the more likely you are to receive assistance. Tell trusted friends and family back home what your itinerary is and keep them up to date as you move from place to place. Let them know if you miss a check-in that they should contact authorities. However, avoid making your travel plans public on social media. Thieves back home also like to target the empty homes of vacationers. 

5. Stay Safe at Your Hotel

Most quality hotels have security measures in place to protect guests, but it is a good idea to take additional steps for safety. Lock the dead-bolt on your door and don't open the windows. You can purchase a jammer and put it under your door for extra protection. Make it more difficult for people to tell when you are not in your room by keeping the blinds or curtains closed and hanging a "do not disturb" sign on the door. Don't let anyone in the room, even if they say they work for the hotel. You can call the front desk to ask if they sent an employee to your room for some reason.

6. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

It is easy to become distracted when you are out having a good time, but it is important to maintain an awareness of what is going on around you. Don't leave your belongings unattended and resist the urge to ask strangers to watch your stuff or take photos of you. Most of them are probably trustworthy, but clever thieves may tail tourists looking for these types of opportunities to snatch and run. If you spot someone who seems to be acting suspicious, leave the area immediately. If they follow you, head to a crowded public area and contact the authorities on your cell phone.

Whether you are an experienced globetrotter or a travel newbie, it is important to have a safety plan in place. These six tips are a good place to start when creating your plan.

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