India – Victoria Larsen (2013)

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer for safe travel, whether it be in a neighboring town or an unexplored corner of the world, is to always have a travel plan.
Books and movies love to romanticize the idea of spontaneity. More often than not, characters jump into extravagant travel adventures on a whim with everything working out beautifully in the end. While the idea is great, the reality is never usually as simple or seamless as what is so readily portrayed.
One of the best precautionary actions any traveler can take is to start with a plan: one should always know exactly where they are going, how they are getting there, who will be going with them, and what things they will need to have with them along the way. Any gaps in a travel plan leave open doors for things to go wrong and safety is usually the first to go.
Understandably, things can always go wrong. I learned this firsthand while in India. Due to miscommunication with a trip organizer, one set of train tickets was cancelled, leaving my group temporarily stranded in a new city with limited communication skills. While we were able to quickly resolve the issue, it became apparent that without our reliable program coordinators, we could have been in serious danger. We were in one of the largest cities in northern India, a city filled with countless situations which could threaten the safety of a travelling group or individual. The point of this story is not to revel in the mishaps of my travels, but to illustrate the importance of proper planning. Had the proper steps been taken to clarify our travel plans, it would have been easily apparent that our final tickets were not officially confirmed which would have led to our making an alternative plan. To be prepared for any travel situations that may arise, the best thing to do is to do a little bit of research, come up with a plan, and come up with one or two back-up plans in the event that something does go wrong.
Besides careful planning, here are a few more travel tips to keep in mind while abroad:
• Whenever possible, travel with a friend, classmate, co-worker, or family member. A second person will help to make travel much safer. If travelling with someone else is not possible, make sure someone is informed of the dates and locations of travel and check in with them every now and then so they know life’s adventures are going according to plan.
• Always carry basic supplies such as water-cleansing tablets, a first aid kit, and clothespins or clips (these can be used countless ways). Think of anything that would be necessary to last a day away from luggage.
• Bring or make multiple copies of important documents including passports, visas, and insurance cards. Store copies in multiple places including in luggage and in daypacks.
• Know weight limits for flying. Overweight bags will mean either paying steep fees or throwing away items.
• Specifically for India and other countries with unsafe tap water, use bottled water for everything – drinking, brushing teeth, washing fresh food – and always check the seal to ensure the bottle is new.
• Make friends with local people (still being cautious as always). It is incredible how kind and helpful people can be, so it is always great to have people familiar with the area being explored to go to with questions and for advice. My group actually had a local bed and breakfast owner chase down our taxi when he thought we were getting a bad rate from the driver. It was nice to know we were being looked after by people who knew the area.

This entry was posted on January 20, 2015, in Asia. Bookmark the permalink.