I’ve read a lot of posts recently on how to protect yourself while traveling and decided to compile my Top 6 recommendations. There are of course a myriad of other great suggestions, but these are my tried (and trusted) ideas. Safe travels to all!
I consider myself a savvy traveler, and safety is something I’ve always kept in mind during the 300,000 miles (and counting!) that Mom and I have clocked together. How do I ensure we have a safe and successful trip? Easy: lots of planning.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to plan out your trip, especially when you travel with aging parents or someone who needs a little extra assistance. Here are six recommendations to consider before you head out-and a few easy tips to follow once you arrive at your destination.
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Insurance gives you peace of mind. The most important reason to get it is for the emergency medical coverage it provides should something happen to you or your loved one. Some kinds of travel insurance can also reimburse you if your trip is canceled or delayed, cover the loss or theft of your property, or even cover personal liability claims.
There are a range of options to choose from. But keep in mind that the most expensive coverage isn’t always the best. Think about what kind of insurance you need and read the fine print carefully. Lonely Planet has good information about how to determine what kind of insurance best meets your individual needs.
2) STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)
STEP is a great free service provided by the U.S. Department of State. Before you travel, simply sign up for an account and provide your dates of travel, your destination, and some personal information (such as an emergency contact who is not traveling with you). Once enrolled, you’ll receive travel warnings and advisories about your destination and be on file with the U.S. embassy or consulate in your destination countries, making it much easier for them to help you in an emergency. They can provide assistance with serious medical or financial difficulties, put you in contact with local doctors and lawyers, and even provide assistance with private loans.
3) Scan Your Docs
If you have a smartphone, don’t miss this opportunity to use it to your advantage before you travel. Using apps such as Genius Scan (free or $4.99) and TurboScan ($2.99) is as easy as taking a picture with your phone. Your parents may, however, not have a smartphone to hand. No problem, there are other options for scanning your passport. As long as you have access to a scanner you can use document scanning software on a PC to preserve the passport and other documents, and then either send it to your own phone or carry a laptop computer with you. Once you’ve scanned your passport, flight confirmations, medical records, prescriptions, and other critical documents, you can save them both on your device and in the cloud so that if-heaven forbid!-you lose your phone, you won’t lose your information.
Once you’ve created digital copies of your important documents, e-mail a copy of them to a trusted friend at home. That way, in a real worst-case scenario, at least one person other than you can access those files and get you the help you need.
4) Arranging Transfers
Yet another thing to think about before you travel is how to get from point A to point B once your plane has landed. Before Mom and I fly, I always contact the hotel where we’ll be staying to prearrange a transfer from the airport. Heading to a foreign country involves long flights, time zone changes, and language barriers. So I want to know that after we’ve made it through baggage claim and customs, a car will be waiting to take us to our intended destination. From experience, I’ve learned that the best way to do this is to call the hotel and arrange the service before I travel.
5) Carrying Cash
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, with most countries using the highly secure chip-and-pin system (which requires a pin number rather than a swipe for approval). Most countries and businesses should accept this payment, which is why it’s advised that people moving to big countries consider getting a credit card as they are such an essential payment method. To learn more about the best credit cards, you can always look online. When traveling, it is always best to take a credit card and money, just in case. I keep enough cash on hand to get me out of any sticky situation that might arise. To avoid the nightmare of getting stuck in a cab with a driver who doesn’t accept your credit card, it’s always good to have cash on hand. But if the thought of carrying a lot of cash around leaves you feeling uneasy, download the ATM Hunter app from MasterCard to get cash when you need it. Using your smart phone’s built-in GPS, the app pinpoints your location and locates the nearest ATM. Best of all, it works worldwide!
6) The Hotel Business Card
This last tip is pretty simple, but an easy one to forget: before heading out on your first excursion, take a hotel business card from the concierge. There’s nothing better than knowing that after a long day of travel, you will be able to use it to ask for directions if you get lost or to tell a taxi driver where you’re staying. Even if you don’t speak the local language, all you have to do is point to the card!
And while you’re picking up that hotel card, ask your concierge about the safest times to use public transport. You never know when you or your loved one will need a break from walking-and cabs aren’t always easy to flag down. The more informed you are about the places you visit, the easier it will be to relax.
Do you have any tips about how to travel safely with your loved one? Share them with us in the comments!