I wrote this BEFORE the world turned upside down due to Covid 19. If you choose to travel early 2021 make sure you get a Covid test before you go and have a certificate proving a negative test. Many countries, quite correctly, want proof that you are Covid free before you arrive in their country. Also, many countries require you to fill out an information form to be handed in on arrival. Check with your airline or relevant government website. Take all sensible precautions to protect yourself and others. Wear a mask at all times, wash and sanitise hands regularly and wash clothes after wear. Just be sensible! Hopefully the Covid Vaccine will be available to many of us before too long.
How to stay safe travelling – Some of my travel tips that have kept me safe and healthy during a lifetime of travel, maybe they will help you:
- How to prepare before you leave home.
- Where to stay on your trip.
- How to stay safe when travelling alone.
- What to wear on your travels.
- Practical tips on staying safe wherever you are in the world.
Luckily, I have travelled the world all of my life and NEVER had a problem, never had anything stolen or had any reason to be scared. If you just take sensible precautions, you will have the greatest time of your life travelling the world. There is nothing to be frightened of as long as you prepare and plan. This is written from the perspective of a luxury, savvy traveller! Obviously, you can be unlucky BUT follow the sensible guidelines and the risk is minimised.
How to Prepare Before you leave Home:
Here are some practical things to do in order to have a stress free time! Make sure your Passport has at least 8 months left before the expiry date. Apply for the Visas you will need for whatever country you visit. Much better to get an EVisa if possible rather than wait until you arrive in the country. Also pack a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere safe. If you lose the passport, you will have the photocopy to help you organise another document quickly.
Check with your Doctor if you are up to date with all of the relevant Vaccinations. For example, you will not be allowed into some African countries without your Yellow Fever Vaccination Card. Also check online with the Foreign Office to be sure that travel is safe at the moment to the country of your choice. For example, travel may not be recommended to certain parts of the country, be prepared in advance.
I would add a caveat though, Foreign office advice tends to be overly cautious, so use it as a guideline rather than strictly following the advice! Also buy good travel insurance and know the number to block your Credit Cards if they get stolen.
Pack these things to help you stay safe:
A Money Belt. Put a small amount of cash and a Credit Card into your money belt. Obviously do not pack Designer handbags or anything expensive if you are travelling to a developing country. Do not keep all your Credit Cards and money in one place and only take a small amount of cash, unless you will not have access to an ATM. Take a photocopy of your passport and keep it somewhere safe.
First Aid Kit. Don’t bother with this if you are going to a Western country but for developing countries this will be essential. I always take some Nurofen, Plasters, Antiseptic cream, Anti hystamine cream, hand steriliser, Imodium, powder probiotic. If it is really isolated take surgical needles and an emergency dental kit. I also pack emergency snacks of Dates, nuts and protein bars. These have been life savers so many times!
Reusable water Bottle. Stay hydrated at all times, take some Electrolyte packets just in case. Also pack a headscarf if you plan to visit Islamic countries and want to go to religious sights. Sarong for Hindu Temples.
Backpack. If you use a backpack, do not put any valuables in it. Use your money belt.
Where to stay on your trip:
“It’s alright for you because you stay in Luxury hotels and resorts” I have been told! This perfectly sums up WHERE you should stay. Make sure to stay in the best place for your budget. As an example, Paris is expensive. If you cannot afford a good hotel or Airbnb in a nice arrondissement then consider staying just outside the city, Fountainbleu is a good choice, just hop on a train and you are in central Paris in 15 minutes.
DO NOT stay in a cheap hotel near a train station. This applies to most cities in the world! The station is usually in a not so great area, this is where drug dealers hang out and other undesirable things happen. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE! I am amazed how many people leave their common sense at home! Just think …… “Would I stay here if it was in my home country?” if the answer is NO, then do not stay!
Spend a little time researching the area and read lots of reviews from other travellers. I always refer to other luxury travel bloggers and read blogs! If you are on a tight budget plan to stay in a hostel, get a recommendation from a blogger who has actually visited, they will be happy to help!
You do not necessarily have to book for the whole trip, just make sure you have the first couple of days arranged then you will be safe on arrival and can plan as you go along. Always have a place booked before you arrive, it is not a good idea to wander around looking for somewhere.
How to stay safe when travelling alone:
I have travelled alone many times and never had a problem – I know luck plays a part, but I always follow my golden rules and stay safe.. My Golden Rules are:
- Dress more conservatively than usual when out and about. Yes, I know you want to wear those cute little shorts but this is not a good idea unless you want to attract a lot of attention. This is particularly true in Middle Eastern or Islamic countries when revealing outfits are considered disrespectful to the culture of the country. Cover up completely and always have a headscarf to hand.
- How to deal with unwanted advances. To be honest, I do attract attention when alone but it is never a problem and I handle it easily, obviously I am older and so this helps. Lots of men/boys will be convinced that you need a little bit of male protection and help, or just some plain old fashioned ‘lovin’ baby’! Do not engage in conversation, do not make eye contact and walk with purpose. If you reply …. all is lost. If you chat, they assume you are interested. I sometimes employ a guide/driver depending on where in the world to act as a bodyguard, in effect, if my husband is not on the trip.
- READ UP on the destination – if there are many reports of sexual harassment then take extra precautions and obviously never wander around in a desert on your own for many safety reasons! Take a guide.
- Guides – My experience is such that ‘romance’ is often on offer! They seem to regard it as part of the service and ‘whats wrong with a bit of fun?’ attitude. However, I find once I firmly decline this very kind offer (!) all is well and we are back on a business like footing. DO NOT behave as if they are your friends – keep it on a business like basis.
- Romance – On the subject of romance, I know from what I see with friends and are told by other travellers that many of you want a little bit of romance on your travels. And why not? Absolutely nothing wrong with that … but just be careful. Use my mantra “Would you do this at home?” Use protection, you don’t want to go home with HIV virus. Also if you are swiping away on that Tinder App, BE SENSIBLE and meet in a public place like a cafe. There are many tales of girls having their drink spiked and waking up in unfortunate situations. Personally, from what I see, I think this is way under reported.
- Don’t worry! Follow all my advice and all will be fine! I find that I meet many interesting people and make new friends when alone.
- If this is your first trip alone, make it short. Maybe a long weekend to find out how you like it. I don’t like travelling alone for very long 7 days max then I get lonely and miss my family. Try it and see what works for you.
What to Wear on your travels:
Stating the obvious, but pack for the climate. Sunny places: In Africa, I always take insect repellant clothes and tons of Mosquito spray. The temptation is to wear a Vest and shorts in the heat. However, it is better to cover up and protect your arms and legs from insects and the hot sun.
As I said before, in Islamic countries I tend to cover up more than usual. Cotton Kaftan tops with sleeves and cotton loose trousers or a maxi dress are perfect especially if travelling alone. Actually, I cover up more EVERYWHERE when travelling alone.
Practical Tips on staying Safe wherever you are in the world:
- Do not wander around alone late at night. Only go to a nightclub in a group and all go home together.
- Stick to busy areas and well lit areas in the evening. Do not go to deserted places.
- Be aware, look around you at all times. Do not take valuable items on your trip.
- Do not wear expensive jewellery.
- Use the hotel safe. Never leave expensive phones/laptops in the room out of the safe.
- Only carry a small amount of cash. Be aware of scams and read up online for your destination.
- Stay in good neighbourhoods. NEVER break this golden rule.
- Ask for your hotel to arrange transportation. This way you are sure it is a reliable driver.
- Read up before you go to a country, know where the dangerous areas are to be avoided.
- Never leave your luggage unattended, watch out for pickpockets in busy places.
- Only withdraw money from banks/ATM machines.
- Watch your drink does not get spiked in a bar.
- Trust your instincts and know the Emergency numbers for the country.
- Don’t accept a lift from anyone.
- Do not arrive at night in the dark.
A few “Home Remedies” if you are in the middle of nowhere!
Don’t get bitten by Mosquitoes, use lots of Mosquito Spray BUT if you do get a bite, use anti histamine cream and do not scratch. Mosquito spray keeps endless insects at bay. If you suffer from Malaria and do not have medical assistance, Quinine leaves in boiling water will help. Pick some from a Quinine tree, ubiquitous in many parts of Africa.
Internal parasites are easy to pick up in developing countries, use a mix of one third olive oil (or any vegetable oil to three parts orange juice) Take this for three consecutive days. I do this routinely after I return home from a developing country, just to be on the safe side!
Diarrhoea – if you do not have any Imodium, over ripe bananas can help. Drink lots of water and do not eat for 24 hours. Quinine bark also cures it. Pack a powder Probiotic for healthy gut and this will help rebalance the body as you recover.
Adopt a veggie or Fish diet. Ignore friends who say “You must try this!” – you will be the one not running into a loo every 2 minutes! So many stomach illnesses derive from meat with parasites, rotten flesh and many other things unknown in the West. Also be careful where you sleep. Sand flies on beaches can cause many illnesses. Look after your health! The Hospitals for Tropical Diseases are full of patients with life changing illnesses, be careful and stay safe.
Well, I can’t think of anything else! If you have some suggestions do let me know. Most importantly, have a great time and make memories to last a lifetime. I have never had one single bad experience in my many years of travel BUT I am very careful and always prepare well in advance. I always take a guide/photographer/husband along to certain countries – do your research! Looking at a pretty Instagram picture is NOT research.
Note: This is written from the perspective of a Luxury traveller. Also a British traveller, we Brits get a passport at birth and are savvy travellers before we hit 18 years old. The same is true of many Europeans, Aussies and New Zealanders!