Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post: Staying Safe While You Travel the World (by KC Owens)

International travel can be an adventure that teaches us about the world and excites us with new experiences. For anyone who appreciates these things, traveling around the world should be a goal at some point. Despite the benefits of foreign travel, however, a variety of things can go wrong when you're traveling. Fortunately, it's not too difficult to prepare yourself beforehand to either avoid these problems or resolve issues that arise unexpectedly. Below is a look at some of the bad situations you might encounter overseas and ways you can take precautions to stay safer and enjoy yourself more. 

Having Your Wallet Stolen
The majority of people are friendly, but there are thieves everywhere. In some places, thieves target tourists and backpackers because they assume that they carry large amounts of money. The theft of a wallet can leave one feeling stranded and helpless in a foreign city. However, this doesn't have to be as much of a problem as long as you use a credit card on your travels. 

Prepaid credit cards are a great option for many people and are available secured to prevent problems from happening if they are stolen. In many cases, thieves won't be able to use these cards for online purchases because the card does not list the name of the cardholder. Travelers can stay even safer by placing only a little money on these cards at a time and being prepared to cancel them immediately if theft occurs. By putting small amounts of money onto the cards, the thief doesn’t have access to your entire bank account if they do make a purchase. Since approval is often easy, these cards are especially popular with students.

Getting Lost Overseas
Finding yourself lost in another country can be exciting, but it can also be extremely stressful if you're not prepared. Stay calm whether you're lost in an urban or rural area. Most likely, you will be able to find other travelers who speak your language and can help you out. If you happen to speak English, it won’t take long before you find someone who can understand you. If you're riding public transportation, know beforehand what time buses and trains stop running at night to avoid being stranded (trust me, it’s not fun being stranded at night). 

It's easier to avoid getting lost if you plan your time beforehand, always leaving plenty of time to catch planes or other transportation. Using street signs can be difficult in a foreign city because you cannot always read signs; therefore, know where landmarks are ahead of time so that you can better determine where you are. Finally, use a cell phone with GPS capability for added protection from getting lost nearly anywhere in the world. It might cost a little bit of money to enable your Internet on your phone but it’s worth it during an emergency.

Losing Your Passport or Having it Stolen
American passports are valuable among criminals worldwide. In many cases, passports are taken by pickpockets who are skilled at following travelers in crowded places and taking their valuables without their noticing. If your passport is already gone, find your country's embassy by searching the Internet and contact them for help. Americans can use the government website to easily find the closest location.

You might want to consider keeping your passport inside of a discreet money belt that goes under your shirt. Above all, get a copy of your passport and keep it safe and separate from your real one for emergencies. This way, you will have a head start on proving your identity if necessary. 

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

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