When travelling in a foreign country, there are obviously many things going through anyone’s head—where to go, where to sleep, how to see all the necessary attraction—but the one thing that cannot be ignored under any circumstances is safety. It is important to be AWARE at all times, especially in unfamiliar locations, as the difference between being aware and not being aware can be the difference between a pleasant vacation and a horrible one.

Before traveling

•Research the country you are visiting, making sure to note the current political climate, history of violence, customs, attitudes towards travelers, laws, and so on.
•Make copies of all personal identification (i.e. passports, flight information, emergency contact information) and keep one set on your person while giving the other to a friend or family member.
•Pre-pay all large expenditures, such as hotel stays or tickets, if possible.
•Try not to pack gaudy or flashy clothing, and minimize the amount of valuables you will need to take.
•Try to get access to back-up funds in the case of an emergency.

Arriving at your destination

•At the airport, arrange to be met directly by someone, either a friend or a hotel shuttle.
•Be cautious of people offering cheaper taxi services, any only use registered and marked taxi services or shuttles.

Safety in the streets

•Always remain aware of your surroundings and your personal belongings, and try to stay in tourist areas, especially if you are alone.
•Be wary of scams and pick-pockets, and understand that they will usually have an accomplice who will try to distract you. Avoid people trying to offer to be your guide or give you a bargain.
•Do not carry cell-phones or wallets in loose pockets or outside bags; if possible, wear in a pouch that goes under your clothing.
•Hide flagrant displays of wealth, such as cell-phones, jewelry, or electronics.
•Do not carry more cash or credit cards than you need for the day, and keep the rest safe at the hotel.
•Carry a copy of your passport with you, unless you are required by law to carry the actual passport.
•If lost, try not to look overly confused, and only ask for directions from people in positions of authority.

Hotel safety

•Use a hotel safe for all of your valuables. If there is not one in your room, ask the attendant in the lobby.
•Always lock your door.
•If you expect to be out late, let someone know when you expect to return.

Transportation safety

•Avoid unmarked cabs, and only use clearly defined, registered taxis.
•On trains, keep all valuables close to your person at all times. If you are in a compartment, lock the door at all times if possible.
•Avoid sleeping on any public transportation, especially if you are alone.
•When driving, keep car doors locked at all times, avoid driving at night, and do not keep valuables in the car.

General safety tips

•If staying for an extended period of time, register with the local embassy and get all contact information from them. Contact the embassy as soon as anything serious happens.
•Know the local laws and avoid illegal activities.
•Be cautious of strangers at all times. It may sound tiresome, but it will pay off in the long run when you do not get scammed.