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Personal Safety 101: A Traveler’s Guide to Dangerous Countries

Traveling to other countries can be a very rewarding and enriching experience. You can learn about new cultures, explore unique landscapes, and meet new people. However, some places are riskier to visit than others.

So, as a traveler, you want to ensure that you practice good personal safety during your trips. In doing so, you can avoid many dangers. This traveler’s guide will help you safely explore dangerous countries, so you can still have an enriching trip.

1. Research the Country

First, you’ll need to make sure that you research any country that you plan on visiting. You can ask questions on forums like Reddit to hear from people who’ve been to those countries first-hand. You’ll learn what to expect and what to watch out for.

It helps to keep a list during your research. Take note of the cultural, social, and political climate. You’ll also want to be as informed as possible about current events in that country.

Then, make sure that you read about local laws, regulations, and customs. Being more aware will help you safely navigate the country without getting into trouble. When you know more, you’ll be able to avoid misunderstandings with the law and locals better.

The United States government also uses a number system to track how dangerous a country is. You must check the level assigned to the country you plan to visit in advance. It breaks down like this:

  • Level 1: Exercise Caution
  • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
  • Level 3: Reconsider Travel
  • Level 4: Do NOT Travel

The level can change depending on several factors, so you’ll want to review it again closer to your trip out of the country. Make sure that you show a level of caution equal to or more to the level that it’s been assigned.

Related Read: Solo Travel Safety: 13+ Tips for Those Who Travel Alone

2. Respect Customs and Local Culture

You’ll blend in better when you do your best to respect the customs and local culture of the place you’re visiting. First, consider following local dress customs, especially if you’re somewhere that’s more conservative. If you’re in doubt, dress modestly to avoid attracting attention.

Next, take the time to learn some basics of the language. You’ll want to be able to communicate with the people there to avoid misunderstandings. It’s best that you don’t assume that everyone will understand English.

Learn how to ask a few basic questions, such as getting directions. Then, ensure you can communicate respectfully with the locals with other common phrases.

Respecting the local customs and culture will ensure you don’t get negative attention. Plus, you won’t look as much like a tourist, so you’re less likely to be a victim of crime.

3. Plan Out Travel Logistics

It’s also essential that you plan out all of your travel logistics in advance. You’ll want to research your options and ensure you choose from reliable services. For example, only staying at reputable hotels and using taxi services through them.

Using ride services like Uber in dangerous places is not always a good idea. If you decide to go that route, you must ensure you’re getting in the right vehicle by double-checking in the app before entering any car. It’s always best to get a taxi through a hotel whenever possible.

By planning out these logistics ahead of time, you will never find yourself in a situation where you’re stranded somewhere dangerous.

Finally, avoid hitchhiking at all costs. Never take rides from strangers, as this can be extremely dangerous, no matter where you happen to be.

4. Stay Informed During Your Travels

It’s essential that you stay informed of what’s happening around you during your travels. You’ll want to check local news often, so you’re aware of anything that could impact your safety. You can easily check the country’s news on your phone, no matter where you are.

You can also read local newspapers, although the Internet will give you the most current information.

5. Remain Vigilant and Street Smart

You’ll want to ensure you stay aware of your surroundings during your travels. Pay attention to what’s happening around you and trust your gut. If something seems off, but you don’t know what is wrong exactly, it’s still best to leave the situation.

You should also try to stay away from dangerous areas. Make sure to research places online to see where it could be hazardous. Again, talking with someone from the area online or who travels a lot could give you insight into what places you need to stay away from.

You might benefit from executive protection services if you’re a high-profile person. Having a team to protect you can be a good idea in many areas, especially if you believe you could be targeted. 

6. Practice Digital Safety Too

Next, it’s also vital that you practice digital safety. Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi. You don’t want to do anything with your connected devices, such as online banking, that could give away personal information about you. 

A hacker could easily steal your data through a public network. So, it’s best not to connect to them if you can help. You may want to use a Virtual Private Network, aka. VPN during your travels. Avoiding public computers would also be for the best.

You’ll want to use secure credit cards with fraud protection. It’s best not to use debit cards as they may leak your banking information. 

You should also check that your messaging apps use encryption. Anything that doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption protection isn’t 100% private.

Finally, limit what you share on social media until you get home. You don’t want strangers on the internet to know you’re not home; they may target your house for theft. Plus, you don’t want strangers to recognize you as you travel.

Always Travel Safely

Focusing on putting your safety first during your trips will ensure you have a memorable experience. Traveling to dangerous places require more vigilance, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have an outstanding time. Keeping these tips in mind will help you protect yourself.

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