Traveling to new places can be highly rewarding, but it can be overwhelming if you’re not sure how safe you’ll feel away from home.
As someone who has traveled abroad both by myself and with friends, I’ve picked up a few tips and have seen a few things on the road that have helped me stay safe for future trips and hope they’ll be helpful for you too!
Be Aware Of Your Valuables
It might seem like common sense, but it’s not- pickpockets are crafty buggers and they’re just as much of an issue around the Eiffel Tower as they are on the trains in Barcelona.
By being aware of common safety issues while traveling, you can avoid scams and theft. Pickpockets use two forms of attack- distraction and crowded spaces.
We were approached by a woman with a very worn looking clipboard in Paris who didn’t ask if I was French or talk about an issue, but wanted a signature. Classic pickpocket move. Another experience in downtown Paris was with three young children who were selling pastries on a tray. You are distracted and a second or third person (yes, sometimes children) will approach you from behind. We avoided both by saying “no thanks” and moving along quickly- but saw that both times there were other people in the scam closely watching.
The second tactic is to take advantage of a backpack pocket or grab a phone on a crowded train where you’re naturally in close contact with others. A pickpocket can grab something out of a pocket and hop off on the next train.
Be Careful About Wi-Fi
Depending on the length of your trip, take care of your bills and financial updates before you leave. Connecting to Wi-Fi can be shady and “free” Wi-Fi without passwords means it’s hardly secure.
When we’ve travelled around to different hotels in Europe, some weren’t password secured, so we didn’t take the risk of logging into our banking or budgeting apps while we were there.
There are also a lot of “FREE Wi-Fi” spots that will be available when you’re out and about, regardless of what you plan on doing, don’t use these. Seems common sense, but many people think it’s harmless to connect “just for a moment,” and it might not be. You should be very aware that identity theft can occur when you’re on vacation and take steps to avoid it.
Get Your Bank & Cash In Order
Be sure to call your bank and let them know what dates you’ll be gone and what countries you’ll be in for all credit cards and debit cards you plan on using.
Most people also have questions on whether to get cash before they go. If you’re planning on exchanging cash ahead of time, be sure to get it at least 72 hours of time as your bank may not carry that type of currency.
If you need cash when you get there, check to see if your bank has an ATM or branch where you’re headed. Otherwise, you may be charged an ATM fee from the machine, plus a fee from your bank on top of the exchange rate. Whenever we travel, we typically get cash ahead of time and mainly use credit cards since we get 2x-3x points for travel cards. Having cash can come in handy- but many places in Europe take cards.
Look Into Travel Insurance
Some trips are too special (or expensive) to take a risk on, so you might want to consider if travel insurance fits your needs. We once booked a trip to Mexico that was at the very tail end of hurricane season, in an area that rarely was impacted by hurricanes- yet we still were met with a category 5 hurricane that threw off our plans and meant we were on the hook for the unused resort nights, a rental car and a hotel inland since we didn’t want to stay at the hotel’s hurricane shelter. Travel insurance would have been a smart move when we booked our trip.
Travel insurance offers a few options and types of coverage. It can give you the benefits of following coverage- trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, missed connection coverage and change fees coverage. Be aware, that travel insurance only covers if it’s secured before a weather event is named (meaning, booked before you know something’s gone awry) so get your travel insurance when you book your trip.
It also can help you out if you should need medical, dental care or emergency transportation. For those of you with super active itineraries, or a tendency to be accident prone, travel insurance for when you travel to Europe could be a good bet for unforeseen medical oopsies as well.
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.