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Safety Implies Many Different Things to Travelers

Volcanoboarding in Nicaragua (photo: David Lee)
Volcanoboarding in Nicaragua (photo: David Lee)

There is nothing quite like setting aside the cares of the world for a couple of weeks of uninterrupted travel. 

Whether that means backpacking across Europe or spending weeks exploring Africa's Serengeti plain, travel is invigorating and enlightening. 

It can also be dangerous to a certain degree. Therefore, safety is often on the minds of travelers from the very moment they leave home.

The thing about travel safety is that it implies so many different things.

Ask ten people to describe how they travel safely, and you are likely to get dozens of answers. 

We talk about safety in terms of:

  • health and well-being
  • avoiding criminal activity
  • protecting data and privacy
  • protecting against financial loss

There are as many safety concerns as there are people who worry about them. That makes it tough to nail down what it truly means to travel safely. 

Yet, that doesn't stop us from looking at those safety concerns that are most important to us.

Health and Well-Being

For some travelers, safety is all about health and well-being. 

Safety revolves around making sure you have enough prescription medication and researching buying guidance for first aid kits. It is about making sure the entire family enjoys illness- and injury-free travel.

When this is the focus, a lot has to be considered. What kinds of activities are on the agenda? 

Things like skiing and snowboarding tend to pose a greater risk than lying on the beach. But that's not all. 

Travelers have to consider everything from local weather to the potential for suffering from gastroenteritis or catching a cold. 

And nowadays, coronavirus exposure is a risk wherever you go.

Avoiding Criminal Activity

Safety for other travelers may be about avoiding criminal activity. Hand-in-hand is political unrest. 

There are plenty of travel destinations where both are legitimate risks. 

Who wants to travel to a destination where political insurgents and criminal thugs jeopardize one’s safety?

Dealing with such issues centers around the research. You go online and look for government warnings about travel to individual hotspots. 

You also check travel websites for personal reviews from other travelers.

You brush up on what the professionals say regarding the destinations you plan to visit.

Providencia, Colombia (photo: David Lee)
Providencia, Colombia (photo: David Lee)

Protecting Data and Privacy

Not all safety issues revolve around the dangers posed by injury, illness, crime, and political unrest. Some are related to data and privacy. 

Too many travelers have learned that the hard way, after discovering their identities were stolen while overseas.

Unfortunately, unfamiliar tourists engrossed in seeing the sights make easy targets. 

And make no mistake about it; scammers abound in all of the most popular tourist destinations. 

They seek out visitors who are not paying attention to their surroundings.

Maintaining data security and privacy under such circumstances requires diligence. 

For starters, travelers can never be too careful about using mobile devices on public wi-fi networks. 

Public wi-fi is an open door to identity theft. The best thieves in the business can steal information from a mobile device without actually handling the device itself.

Other safety tips in this category include things like using social media judiciously, not broadcasting to the world where you are or where you are going, not giving out personal information to unknown people, and so forth.

Protecting Against Financial Loss

Perhaps the one safety issue that doesn't get talked about enough is that of financial loss. 

Travelers suffer substantial losses more often than you might imagine. 

Said losses occur due to things like unexpected illness and missed flights. Just the cost of getting ill overseas could be substantial.

Imagine falling ill and requiring hospitalization in a foreign country.

Depending on your country of origin, you may have no way to pay for the care you receive. 

Take American travelers, for example. A lack of universal healthcare forces Americans to pay for services either out-of-pocket or with private health insurance.

Being hospitalized overseas could leave an American with a hefty bill. That bill could be even higher if the illness forced early repatriation. 

Facing tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt is a genuine possibility. What's the solution? 

Travel insurance that covers both illness and repatriation costs.

A good travel insurance policy covers other things as well. It covers financial losses due to missed flights, accidents with rental cars, theft, and so forth. 

The best thing about it is that travel insurance doesn't cost a lot compared to what it covers. Reasonably priced insurance policies abound.

Travel Safety Is a Personal Matter

The things discussed in this post barely scratch the surface of travel safety. Staying safe while traveling is a personal issue. 

Each of us has to gauge the risks we face while away from home. We also have to determine how much risk we are willing to assume.

Do not take safety for granted when you travel. Put some time and thought into it so that you can adequately prepare before you leave home.

You cannot eliminate all the risks, but you can mitigate most of them.


This story is brought to you in partnership with Seton.

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