There’s nothing we all like better than jetting off on holiday. With a bit of sun, luxury, peace and quiet you’ll feel on top of the world, with nothing to worry about…
But have you considered how safe you are when travelling? We all like to relax, but are you keeping up to date with the latest safety warnings? Are you watching out in port for pickpockets or something even more sinister?
Whilst none of us like to think about something going wrong, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself and several things you should keep an eye out for.
With that in mind, here are our top tips for staying safe abroad when travelling. Read this and you’ll be a lot more clued up on your next holiday!
Watch Out For Pickpockets
Some ports are safer than others. Even though many are relatively free from thieves, you can never be too careful! Make sure you don’t take anything really valuable out with you such as expensive jewellery and never items such as your passport. Leave them on the ship instead and carry any valuables with you in a bag that crosses over your body so it’s harder to snatch.
Our specialist cruise consultant Eve told us: “When I travelled though China I wore my backpack back to front! Whilst it wasn’t much of a fashion statement, it kept all my things safe.” You can learn more about Eve and her travels through China here.
Keep It Clean
You know all of those antibacterial hand gel stations all over cruise ships? They’re there for a reason! However clean you think your hands are, bacteria can live anywhere so always make sure you use them. (We’ve all noticed those guests who avoid the hand washing stations – make sure you aren’t one of them!) When using restrooms or eating in restaurants on shore, you should also take a small bottle of hand gel with you.
Our specialist cruise consultant Hannah told us: “Despite the headlines, norovirus is actually very rare! Just make sure you wash your hands often and when directed by cruise staff and you’ll be fine.” You can learn more advice from Hannah here.
Carry Your Hotel’s Business Card
If you’ve spent the day exploring New York and are getting a taxi back to the Marriot, chances are your taxi driver will always know where your hotel is. But if you’re staying in an obscure corner of the world, or in a city as large as Beijing, your driver may not have a clue! Make sure you always carry the business card of your hotel so you can show it to your driver. It also means you don’t have to try and overcome language barriers if you’re struggling with the local lingo!
Our specialist cruise consultant Charlie told us: “staying at a hotel a few days before or after your cruise is a great way to make your trip even more special. Just make sure you research how much a taxi ride should cost between the port and your hotel to make sure you don’t get taken for a ride!” You can read more advice from Charlie here.
Use The Safe, Even If You’re On-Board!
Many people we’ve spoken to often say that they don’t bother to use the safe in their room if they are sailing because they trust the staff. Whilst we’re not saying that you can’t trust them, (because we all know how lovely cruise staff are!) it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you wouldn’t want to leave your passport lying around in a hotel on land, why should on water be any different? Lock it up and keep it safe! It really isn’t worth the hassle of having to track down the embassy in port if it gets lost or stolen.
Don’t Drink The Local Water
Now this sounds like an obvious one, but you’d be amazed by how many people get ill every year from drinking local water on their holiday. Due to differences in water quality and filtering, it’s not always safe for you to drink the tap water in countries you visit. So if you’re doing a cruise and stay you need to check the water is safe before you have any.
Our specialist cruise consultant John told us: “It’s also worth remembering that if you travel to very remote places (for example river cruises along the Mekong or Yangtze) the water on your river ship may also not be safe. Often, these ships will have one tap for you to wash with and another that is safe to drink. Make sure you don’t get these muddled up so you don’t have to spend a portion of your holiday in the sick bay instead of enjoying the incredible country you’re sailing through!” You can pick up more tips like this from John here.
Watch The Booze
We all like a tipple every now and then but be careful you don’t have too much. Drinking in excess can leave you vulnerable in a foreign country so make sure you don’t get too drunk if you can help it. If your ship is overnighting in port, you need to be able to get to the ship afterwards after all! Drink water between rounds of drinks to keep in control, and always watch your drink to make sure no one slips anything into it.
Our cruise consultant Harry advised: “If you do want to have a lot to drink, make sure you are with friends or relatives who can look after you and make sure you get home safe.” You can hear more from Harry here.
Ask For Annotation
When you get off the ship in a tourist hot spot there will often be a tourist information desk right in port. Many people head straight towards it to grab a free map of the surrounding area, but do you ever stop to ask for advice? Get the tourist official to make annotations on the map for you so that you know which areas are the best to visit, and if there are any neighbourhoods you should stay away from.
Our specialist cruise consultant Richard told us: “It’s not just safety tourist officials can advise you on either! They can often tell you the best places to grab a meal or drink or tell you which of the city’s main attractions are worth your money!” You can find out more from Richard here.
Keep Your Wits About You
When visiting a new place it’s easy to become distracted by the lights, smells and people all around you. The problem is that this disorientating arrival into a new location can often distract you from what’s in front of you. Make sure you always have your bag close to you and try not to wander off to badly lit side streets, especially if you’re travelling alone. If at any point you have a bad feeling about where you are, trust your instincts and head towards a more crowded location or somewhere where you can see other tourists. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Watch Out For Local Food
In an ideal world we would all step right off the ship and head straight to a local food market to wolf down the produce… But sometimes you need to be careful! Those with sensitive stomachs shouldn’t risk trying something particularly exotic and even the sturdy stomachs amongst you should be wary of certain products, especially meats. After all, if you can’t speak the language do you actually know what kind of meat that is in your soup? No one (we repeat no one) wants to get a sickness bug on a cruise ship. Your fellow passengers (and cabin mates) will never forgive you!
Our specialist cruise consultant Helen told us: “My advice? Try all the local ice cream instead! You can’t go wrong with a bit of raspberry ripple and you can still have a treat without risking getting sick.” You can find out more about Helen here.
Learn A Few Phrases
Now, if you’re setting off on a world cruise then perhaps you wouldn’t be able to learn a few phrases to use in every port of call. But the rest of you have no excuse! Take the time to learn a simple greeting in the local language of the port you’re docking in. Being able to stop someone politely may be the difference between them being willing to help you or not. If you ever get lost, being able to politely ask for assistance will go a long way!
Our specialist cruise consultant Neil said: “Learn a couple of words like hello, please and thank you and that will always help! When in doubt, gestures can help… and being able to ask where the nearest toilet is located is always a good idea!” You can read some more advice from Neil here.
So there are all of our best travel safety tips! Have you tried any of these before? Do you have any tips of your own to add? Let us know in the comments below…