Safety Tips for Traveling
Whether you travel often or you’re getting ready for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, it’s important to think about safety as part of your travel preparations. The following tips can help travelers plan for a safe and comfortable trip and may reduce the risk of many different types of crimes, including sexual violence.
Before you go
- Share your travel information. Before you leave, share your itinerary with someone you trust. Include the address and phone number of your accommodations and transportation information, like flight numbers.
- Research ground transportation. Research taxi and ridesharing companies that are available and reputable in the area. Do they take credit cards or only cash? Is there a number you can call if you have a bad experience? If you plan on taking public transportation, look for a mobile app that has real-time updates for the transportation system at your destination. This can help you avoid waiting for a bus in an isolated area.
- Familiarize yourself with the destination. Use tools like Google Maps to scout out the area around your destination. Is there a hospital or police station located near where you’re staying? Check to see if there are local bus stops in the area or a shopping center where you can easily find a cab. If you plan on going out in the evenings, plan your return trip in advance.
- Plan for safety abroad. Check out the State Department’s resources for international travelers. Identify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and store their contact information. Consular officers are available for emergency assistance 24/7. You can also register your international trip for free with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you are planning to travel on a cruise ship, read the safety information provided by the cruise line and learn more about cruise ship safety before you board.
When you get there
- Beware of “Vacation Brain.” It’s nice to relax and put your worries on pause, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Many vacation destinations can create a false sense of security. You may become fast friends with the people you meet, but give them time to earn your trust.
- Keep track of what you drink. Be smart about what drink. Not familiar with an ingredient? Look it up on your smartphone. Keep track of how much you’ve had to drink, and be aware of danger signs. If something doesn’t seem right—for example, if you feel more intoxicated than you should—or if a situation is making you uncomfortable, get to a safe place as soon as you can. Learn more about steps you can take to stay safe if you want to drink.
- Think about Plan B. It’s not plausible to make a back-up plan for every situation, but thinking through the following scenarios might prevent you from winding up in a tough spot.
- Are you familiar with your surroundings? Take note of local landmarks, like drugstores or restaurants, that can help you feel more oriented. If something happens, you’ll know where to turn for help.
- If you get lost, do you have the address of your lodging written down or memorized in the local language?
- If you are separated from the group, is there a designated place where they would go to look for you?
- If your phone dies, do you have a portable backup charger and a few phone numbers memorized? If you’re traveling out of the US, have you activated international service?
- If you’re planning on driving, do you have access to a map if your GPS doesn’t work?
- Do you know where the nearest hospital or police station is and how to contact them?
In an emergency abroad
If you find yourself in an emergency situation abroad, contact the U.S. Department of State. They can connect you with a variety of resource to help, wherever you are.
- From the U.S. & Canada: 1.888.407.4747
- From Overseas: +1.202.501.4444
- You can also contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you’re visiting. Consular officers are available for emergency assistance 24/7.
- If you are a victim of a crime, you can have the support of a U.S. consular officer to help navigate the process. This person cannot investigate crimes or provide legal services, but they can help you navigate the criminal justice system in the country you’re visiting. If you contact or report to local law enforcement, be sure to request a copy police report.
- Airport Security (TSA) for Survivors
- Reporting to Law Enforcement
- Steps You Can Take to Prevent Sexual Assault
- How to Respond if Someone Is Pressuring You
If you experience a crime like sexual assault while traveling, remember that it is not your fault. Help is available. To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.