• Before departing, sign up for alerts through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
• Contact your health insurance provider before going to check on their policies for international travel, and consider investing in travel insurance. Through providers like Global Nomads, it’s quite inexpensive and can make a huge difference.
• Do some research before arriving in-country to learn about cultural customs and guidelines for social interactions and dress. Being aware of certain practices that may have a different meaning in your host country can help you avoid potentially uncomfortable and unsafe situations.
• Invest in an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone in-country. Just in case, know the country’s emergency numbers and have the names and numbers of friends or other contacts in the area.
• Have the names and phone numbers of a few cab drivers you trust, and always set the price of a trip before you get moving.
• Keep multiple copies of your passport, visa, credit and bank cards, and health/travel insurance information in different places, just in case something goes missing.
• Keep a card in your wallet with emergency contact information, any allergies, and other important information in case of emergency.
• Avoid crowded public transportation until you’ve been in-country long enough to know the lay of the land. Buckle up in taxis and on buses, even if no one else does.
• A small flashlight is always helpful to have on hand.
• If someone asks where you’re staying or where you’re going, keep your response as vague as possible.
• Be aware of you surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Keep valuables in a secure bag (ideally a cross-body bag, so you can keep a hand on it at all times) rather than a backpack.
• Learn a few words or phrases in the host country’s language.
• Always travel with a friend, and, especially at night, never walk alone.