Depending on how often you travel, you might be surprised by the number of changes you face as you navigate airports, car rentals, or hotel stays. From security requirements and baggage rules to Wi-Fi privacy and careful due diligence, travel can seem complicated. The more complicated things are, the harder it is to stay on top of everything and remain vigilant.
Keep Things Simple
Complicated travel is not my style. I prefer to streamline as much as I can to keep things simple. Life isn’t always simple, though. So, in order to be as prepared as possible, I keep a few key practices in my back pocket.
Maintaining simplicity helps me focus on staying safe, smart, and ready for adventure.
Travel Safety & Protection
Whether you’re on the road, cruising the skies, or roaming city streets, it’s good practice to watch out for yourself. Travel can be less stressful and complicated when you’re prepared and protected.
Here are five things I do to protect myself while traveling.
Vet Sources and Fact-Check
It’s one thing to take a calculated risk, pick a direction, and go; it’s an entirely different thing to blindly follow something seen online.
Unfortunately, without a bit of due diligence, it can be really easy to find yourself in an unexpected (and even unsafe) situation. The Internet is a double-edged sword. You can stumble across any kind of information or reaffirmation to satiate any interest. However, the Internet is not limited to factual accuracy.
Cross-checking resources, vetting sources, and fact-checking help reduce errors and offer clarity. Admittedly, my research background has encouraged a more obsessive approach to information gathering and just-in-case scenarios, but I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared!
Fact-checking can ensure that you are:
- Legally visiting a certain area
- Aware of all required documentation and/or visas
- Staying/parking in a safe, legal location
- Familiar with pricing
- …and more!
Not only can fact-checking help keep you safe, it can also protect your time and enhance your decision-making (…common sense) skills so you don’t end up in a situation like this:
Oy. While there are many adventures to be had with spontaneity in the front seat, it’s important to have a smart sense of direction.
I love this one. Aside from buying tickets at the airport counter, this trick of the trade has helped us save quite a bit of money on our flights.
We choose to travel lightly. This allows us to avoid the hassle of checking bags, as well as the potential of facing delayed, lost, or damaged baggage. When we fly, we each travel with a single backpack. Road trips offer a little more flexibility, though we still pack minimally.
Traveling lightly, especially with a single backpack, means our baggage is with us at all times. This greatly reduces the risk of theft. It also gives us the ability to navigate situations quickly when necessary.
Red-eye, blurry-eyed, or daytime travel, I try my best to pay attention to my surroundings wherever we go. While staying alert can feel tiring after a long travel day, it’s the best way to recognize common scams, tourist traps, and even incorrect charges or change from a restaurant.
On a more serious note, acute awareness and self-awareness are critical in regards to self-preservation. Keep an eye out for exit strategies — in conversations, group settings, buildings, methods of transportation, etcetera.
Developing street smarts is important for traveling from one place to another. Each place will have its own rhythm. Fact-check to understand how to move to those rhythms. With due-diligence and awareness, moving from one place to the next doesn’t seem as jarring as it would without preparation.
I traveled alone a good bit before Brian and I started dating. There have been a few occasions I’ve been followed, both on foot and in a car. Luckily, these situations did not escalate. I kept my head on a swivel and safely arrived where I was headed.
|Pro Tip: Try not to act like an idiot, especially when you’re traveling by yourself. Keep in mind that good things rarely happen past midnight (Props to Dad for that advice!!) and that it’s usually not a fantastic idea to get absolutely smashed in an unfamiliar area around unfamiliar people.|
It can be frustrating to watch out for yourself sometimes, especially when you’re exhausted and running around. However, it definitely beats having to deal with the frustration and trauma of a more serious situation.
If you could prevent something serious from happening just by being vigilant, why wouldn’t you?
There are countless ways that staying connected has bailed me out! First off, it’s best to make sure that all necessary devices have a full battery life. A battery backup or portable charger is essential for maintaining power. After all, it’s hard to stay connected without battery.
Since Brian and I frequently work while we travel, we make sure we stay connected as necessary. We enjoy uninterrupted data usage through our Google Fi Unlimited Plus Plan. With access to unlimited data and texts in the US and more than 200 international countries, this plan also provides unlimited full-speed hotspot tethering for other devices. It’s a convenient service that offers excellent value for our needs.
If you’d like to switch over to a Google Fi Plan, you can receive a $20 credit after your first month by signing up through our referral page. Each referral helps us out as we receive a $20 credit as well!
We’ve also benefited from using a Verizon Wireless Hotspot in the past. Before we switched our cell phone plan to Google Fi, we would check out a hotspot from our local library! Having an unlimited and uninterrupted high-speed data connection is highly useful – both on and off the road.
- Efficient GPS navigation
- Quick access to emergency services
- Ability to quickly fact-check a point of interest
- Access to mobile discounts and specials
- Ability to stay in contact with others
- Text or voice translation through Google Translate
Use a VPN
In this day and age, surfing the Internet through an unsecured network is risky business. I was always pretty apprehensive about the websites I visited while on public Wi-Fi, especially if I needed to enter or access any sensitive information. Without a secured connection, hackers, thieves, and internet service providers could easily access my browsing activity and details. This is a terrifying thought, especially considering how much our lives are online these days!
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts and secures your data. Rather than sending readable information over a public (i.e. accessible) connection, a VPN encodes your data to protect it so that only you and authorized websites can access it. A VPN masks your IP address and location so you can freely and anonymously browse without the risk of being identified.
I breathed a sigh of relief once we signed up with Surfshark VPN. This VPN can be downloaded on an unlimited number of devices. Now, whenever I want to log into my bank account, check my e-mail, or place reservations, I can do so securely on my phone, laptop, or Brian’s laptop wherever we are!
While we love Surfshark VPN for its security, there are a few other reasons a VPN comes in handy:
Sometimes when traveling abroad, you might run into instances where you’re unable to access certain websites or applications, such as Skype. Some countries restrict access to websites due to geo-blocking and censorship. Surfshark VPN currently has over 3,200 servers in 100 countries.
As long as you’re in a country where VPNs are legal, you can actually hop onto Surfshark and change your country location to access the blocked websites!
Stream Different Content
Whether you’re at home or abroad, you can actually switch your country location to access different content on different streaming platforms!
From Hulu and YouTube to Netflix and more, a simple selection of a different country can unlock access to new movies and shows or your favorite tried-and-trues.
Online booking platforms adjust pricing based on browser history, geolocation, and, of course, current trends. If you’re looking to book a trip, using a VPN will change your IP address and will “trick” the booking platform into thinking you’re a new customer. You can also change your country to see how much prices are impacted by the location difference. A VPN can help save money on hotels, airline tickets, car rentals, and online shopping, in general.
Research Local Culture
Sometimes I use Surfshark just to switch countries out of pure curiosity. I enjoy learning about other countries and cultures.
Whether you’re simply curious or actually planning a trip, you can learn more about a country’s current events by using a VPN. I find that local news and events are more readily available and accessible when your location is set to the country of interest.
Do you think a VPN could benefit you? Sign up with Surfshark VPN for secured browsing today!
Open Eyes, Open Mind
Travel safety does not require that every detail be planned. There is (and should be, if you ask me) room for risk and spontaneity. Situational and self-awareness are key to protecting yourself. With open eyes and an open mind, I hope you safely enjoy wherever you’re headed.