How to Travel Safely in a Foreign Country

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Let's say you have always dreamed of visiting Rome. You've saved enough money for your plane tickets. You've received your passport and have made a copy of it. You've contacted your credit and debit card providers to let them know the dates you will be traveling overseas. And also, you've made a copy of your debit and credit cards to keep in a safe place with you as well as in a safe place at home. Finally, you've contacted your cell phone company to let them know when you are traveling.

Now, the big day has arrived and you are ready to see Rome. What can you do while traveling to make sure you have the trip you have dreamed about instead of it turning into a nightmare? The following are some steps to consider to stay safe and enjoy your vacation to a foreign country:

  • Only carry a small amount of cash on you (e.g., tipping cash). Your credit card, debit card, and traveler's checks will pay for most things. Keep your money and valuables either with you or in the hotel safe in your room. Do not keep all of your money in the same place. Always make sure to lock your luggage and label all of your belongings. Additionally, lock your hotel room when you are in it, as well as when you leave. Make sure any sliding glass and/or adjacent doors are locked as well.
  • Make sure you call your credit card providers before you leave for your trip and advise them that you will be traveling to a foreign country. Do the same with your cell phone provider. Equally important, give a copy of your passport, credit cards, and itinerary to someone you trust at home.
  • When you are visiting various sites, wear your money in a money belt, or safety pin it to your belt or undergarments. You can also keep it in a pocket that zips or buttons (preferably in a front pocket), or in a purse that is secured to your body in some way. Keep in mind that many tourist sites will not let you in with a backpack and they will not store it for you. Also, do not carry your passport with you unless it is required in that particular country.
  • When using public transportation, always be aware of possible theft. Make sure your pockets are buttoned and keep your backpack visible in front of you. Do not accept gifts of food or drink from strangers while on public transportation.
  • While you are in a foreign country, appreciate the differences between the United States and the country you are visiting such as the different foods and cultural experiences. Dress conservatively and avoid wearing anything flashy. Try not to wear "message" or "logo" shirts when at all possible and wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Be aware of and follow all local laws regarding alcohol consumption, smoking and operating a vehicle, among others. Abide by the laws; expect no special treatment due to ignorance. Remember that you are more likely to become the victim of a crime if you have consumed alcohol.
  • Travel in a group when possible. If you are not on the "tourist track," try to travel with a trusted companion.

While these tips do not form a complete list for you to consider while traveling, they will help you be prepared so that you can have an enjoyable time at your destination, wherever you may be.

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