How to Prepare for Travel to High-Risk Destinations
Travel is an awesome way to meet new people and experience other cultures. Meeting locals in faraway places can give us lasting memories and a new perspective of our own lives.
While many destinations are safe and most people aren’t going to take advantage of you, it’s always smart to take safety precautions abroad, especially if you’re traveling to a country that’s been identified as “high-risk.”
Even the most experienced travelers can sometimes use an occasional reminder of the following travel safety tips.
Read up on your destination
It’s smart to do some research on the destination where you’ll be traveling. Learn about the customs so that you’ll be less likely to upset locals with your behavior (even unintentionally). When it comes to your safety, having a solid knowledge of things like how to dress can help you to better blend in and be less likely to be targeted by pickpockets or muggers.
Check for travel warnings
Take the time to see if there is a travel warning about the area you’re planning to visit, especially if it’s a land that’s somewhat off the beaten path. Start with the Alerts and Warnings page of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. You’ll see a list of alerts and warnings sorted by date in the center of the page and you can refine your search by country or area.
Travel Alerts are issued for “short-term events we think you should know about when planning to travel to a country.” Keep these alerts in mind as you decide whether you should continue with your travel plans.
A Travel Warning is issued when “we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all.” Think long and hard about traveling to a country where there’s a current Travel Warning. Some warnings could be a result of anything from natural disasters to political unrest.
Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is especially important for trips to high-risk destinations. While many travelers never encounter emergencies, you should always be prepared for the worst by purchasing insurance that can cover the cost of illness, injury or medical evacuation. Our Atlas Travel Insurance provides you with global coverage that can reduce or even eliminate your responsibility for paying large medical bills resulting from an overseas emergency.
No one likes to think about scenarios like kidnappings, but as a traveler to a higher-risk location you might also want to think about buying Kidnap & Ransom Insurance that covers you from the unthinkable – expenses incurred from kidnapping/ransom, extortion or detention.
Triple check your travel documents
Most international travel now requires a passport, so make absolutely sure that you keep yours with you at all times. Also make sure that you keep track of any other travel documents that might be required for your particular destination.
Think about money
Research the exchange rates ahead of time and determine how much of the local currency you’re going to need. Figure out whether it’s to your financial advantage to buy the foreign currency at home or after you arrive. It’s usually a good idea to get at least a small amount before you leave for the sake of time and convenience. Check out CNN’s currency calculator.
Never keep your money in the pocket of your jeans. Consider buying a money belt that you can wear beneath your shirt or some other place where it would be difficult to steal. You might want to keep your passport there as well. Also make sure that your travel companions have money so that one lost wallet won’t leave your entire group without funds.
But don’t flaunt your wealth
Finally, exhibit some self-awareness. If you can afford to travel abroad – especially if you’re traveling in a third-world country – you’re most likely much wealthier than the locals, and you need to show some respect by not flaunting that fact. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or tech gadgets. If you can live without the bling, it’s best to just leave it at home.