With the improvement of transportation means, more and more people are eager to travel the world. And this doesn’t come off as a surprise. Traveling is a rewarding, unique experience. Seeing new places, observing new cultures, meeting other people are some of the highlights that make us love traveling.
Nevertheless, just because means of transportation have been enhanced, this doesn’t mean that one should leave his/her guard down while traveling abroad. On the opposite, staying informed and taking the necessary precautionary measures will maximize your safety.
On that note, in this guide, we will present to you insightful information regarding this topic: how to stay safe during traveling abroad, what statistics indicate and what countries you should steer clear of visiting. Let’s proceed!
What Do Statistics Indicate?
Yearly, the State Department creates advisories that have the purpose of informing Americans regarding the places that aren’t safe for traveling.
In lines with the World of Health Organization, from 2007 to 2009, approximately 2,350 citizens of the United States have died due to violence or injuries while traveling abroad.
Based on Travel Warnings, we have determined a range of aspects, by categorizing warnings and the reason they have been issued. From that point, considering the number of travel warnings noted during 2009 and 2017, we have found the following:
- Mexico stays at the top of the list, having 28 warnings in an 8-year timeframe. It’s worth indicating that most of these warnings are issued for particular regions, referring to sites where crime syndicates are overly active. Typically, popular destinations such as the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico City are regarded as safe.
- As for other countries included in this ranking, they participate in international conflicts: Pakistan, Israel, Afghanistan, and so on.
- Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that North Korea account for an exception. In lines with the State Department, America citizens could be jailed without a significant reason, such as taking unauthorized photographs or interacting with the locals.
- Apart from that, the State Department aims at monitoring the incidence and causes of American deaths while traveling abroad. The death causes referred to executions, homicides, drug-related deaths and in terrorist attacks.
- Generally speaking, the likelihood of a violent death abroad isn’t much likely to happen. From 2009 to 2013, 1,151 American Citizens have been killed abroad, out of a population of 316 million. In comparison to that, no less than 15,809 homicides took place in the US in 2014.
- Out of the 1,356 killings that happened abroad, Mexico stands for 50 percent of those deaths. Stull, Americans are prone to die in Mexico since they travel there more than they do to other countries, according to this source.
- Next on the list is Afghanistan, with 84 Americans killed, the Philippines with 74, Haiti with 65, Honduras with 46, Dominican Republic (45), Jamaica (39), El Salvador (34), Costa Rica (27), Guatemala (26), Columbia (25), and others.
Another question is how do travel advisories influence Americans’ tourist behaviors? Does traveling to a destination diminish after the State Department notifies a travel warning? For instance, Egypt has experienced a remarkable drop in traveling, namely 34 percent, while traveling to Thailand diminished by 15 percent.
What Are The Most Common Causes of Death?
According to the official reported number of American deaths abroad, 3,104 occur as a result of traffic accidents, 2,000 – homicide, 1,461 – suicide, 1,320 – drowning, and 1,294 due to other accidents.
Nevertheless, suicide is an overlooked cause of death for Americans abroad. Approximately 1,461 suicides have been recorded, which represents 100 abroad suicides per year. In lines with official information, Mexico is the first country for American suicides, indicating, once again, that many Americans choose to travel there.
How to Protect Yourself from Theft when Traveling
According to statistics, 10 percent of people traveling abroad have lost or had their smartphone stolen in 2015. In the meantime, 9 percent lost their credit card, 8 percent had their debit card stolen.
That being said, being the victim of pickpockets is a possibility, especially when you’re traveling to popular, overcrowded spots. Here are some fundamental tips that can help you in maximizing your safety.
Separate your valuables
Considering that you keep your credit card, documents, and cash in your wallet and it gets stolen, you’ll end up being in a rough situation. By separating your valuables, you could prevent being in an unwanted scenario.
For example, credit cards feature a system set up that can direct to you emergency cash in the event in which your card is stolen. Instead of depending on this entirely, why wouldn’t you leave the house with either your ATM card or credit card, but not both?
Use your credit card wisely
We advise you against using debit cards abroad. That’s because if it gets stolen, your finances could be depleted. Not to mention that it will be a while until the bank releases the fund, only after determining you aren’t responsible for the situation. It goes without saying that aiming at solving such situations is far from being ideal, especially on vacation.
That being said, we advise you to steer clear of using the credit card in questionable places, particularly when you’re traveling to under-developed countries.
When used in safe environments, for instance, credit cards are better than carrying cash around.
Be cautious when you take a cab
It is best to take a cab that belongs to an official cab company. Otherwise, you are prone to be a victim of theft. For instance, when you leave the cab and you have luggage in the trunk, never get out of the car before the cab driver. Additionally, always write the cab number down before entering it, in the event in which you accidentally leave something behind.
Have a steal-me wallet
A steal-me wallet is a fake wallet, which, if it got stolen, it would disappoint the thief terribly. If that were to happen, the thief wouldn’t come back for more, on the opposite.
How to Protect Yourself from Getting Kidnapped When Traveling
Being kidnapped abroad is not uncommon, unfortunately. In truth, ransom, kidnap, or extortion is on the growth, worldwide, for anyone that could be perceived as potentially wealthy. While staying safe has become overly challenging, you can avoid being in this situation by embracing a few strategies.
By being more self-aware, one could actually avoid being in a ransom or kidnapping situation. In other words, by being aware of how other perceive you, the places you go to, could make the world of a difference. You shouldn’t distinguish yourself by wearing jewelry and clothes that would draw unnecessary attention to you.
Try to look at others and aim at blending in as much as possible. Constantly pay attention to your surroundings and the people surrounding you.
Be wary of your social media
Most people, when traveling abroad, post pictures of their whereabouts. Nevertheless, this could place you in significant danger. You should never post pictures in real time, which would reveal that you’re away from home.
Familiarize yourself with the surroundings
Whether you’re traveling for business purposes or leisurely, we often overlook paying attention to our surroundings, which is, in fact, critical. Identify police stations, buildings, major points of interest and large public areas located in the proximity of your accommodation. Get acquainted with more than one route that retakes you to your hotel or business destination.
Additionally, avoid using any ATMs at night. You should also spot ATMs in central locations and use those exclusively. Apart from that, we advise you to familiarize yourself with local practices, gestures, and customs.
Be mindful of the means of transportation you use
Under no circumstances should you communicate your itinerary to a stranger, since this could put you in a difficult situation. If you choose to rent a car, ensure that it functions accordingly, and never drive unless the tank is at least half-full.
Steer clear of illegal taxis. It is best to choose legit and verified cab drivers. Apart from that, you should avoid getting on a cab with a passenger on the front seat. This is never a good sign. What is more, you shouldn’t share your cab with strangers. Lock the taxi door during the journey and keep the window up at all times. Most importantly, you should inform a reliable person of your whereabouts.
How to Protect Yourself from Getting Your Documents Stolen or from Losing Them
When preparing for a trip, it’s quintessential to make the necessary preparations for protecting yourself from having your important documents stolen. These simple tips could go a long way!
Make and email copies
Before you leave on your highly-awaited trip, we advise you make copies of your credit cards, visas, and personal ID. You should make a photocopy of anything you take along on your trip. After scanning the documents, email them to yourself. In this way, you have immediate access to them around the clock, irrespective of where you’re traveling to.
That’s because if your passport is stolen or lost, you’ll need information such as passport number, expiration date, issue date, so on and so forth.
As for canceling a credit card, it necessitates the toll-free number present on the back of the card. Doing so could seriously reduce your stress while traveling.
Keep your items close
When you travel abroad, you should have your passport with you at all times. Use a travel waist or travel wallet around the neck to carry your valuables. Make sure you conceal them and don’t draw unnecessary attention to you. When you’re at the metro station or any other crowded spots, be doubly vigilant of pickpockets.
Whenever you travel domestically, it’s recommendable to have a form of personal identification on you at all times, as well.
Lock your bags
Many a time, travelers are in a hurry and overlook the importance of locking their bags. Simply put, when traveling, the bags are located in overhead compartments or racks.
So, whenever you visit the beverage cart or fall asleep, you can no longer keep an eye on your bags. Getting a small travel lock could make it more difficult for pickpockets to steal your documents. As soon as you reach the hotel, you should lock your most important documents in a safe or one of your suitcases.
Use smart identification
When you’re abroad, you shouldn’t use your passport as your main identification. If it gets stolen, you would be unable to board a flight, not to mention that this could pose you at the risk of identity theft. That’s because stolen passports are sold on the black market to criminals, to participate in human trafficking, open new bank accounts, and so on. Lock up your passport and, instead, use your driver’s license or international ID for bars, nightclubs or other places of admission.
How to Protect Yourself from Being Raped when Traveling Abroad
If you assume that sexual assault occurs only in the Middle East, think again. Regrettably, sexual assault is a common occurrence in developed countries as well, such as England, Australia, Korea, Spain, and many others.
In fact, according to this source, 80-100 percent of people reported having been sexually assaulted in Denmark and Sweden. What we ought to learn from this is that one should exercise precaution to maximize their safety while traveling abroad.
Watch your drink
If you happen to go to a bar at night, and the person that was supposed to watch it is out of sight, it would be best if you ditch the drink and get another one instead. This applies both for when you’re traveling abroad and when you’re at home. A good practice is to avoid sipping from a drink you didn’t get the chance to keep an eye out for.
That should aid you to avoid being the victim of a date rape drugs. These drugs are typically used so that the victim becomes unconscious, hence make it vulnerable to sexual assault. These drugs can be slipped into your drink whenever you’re not looking, and make you confused, weak or even pass out, in this way become unable to fight against the assault.
That being said, under no circumstances should you accept drinks from other people, as friendly as they might seem. You shouldn’t share drinks, or get a drink from an open container such as a punch bowl or something. If you feel dizzy and drunk but you didn’t have any alcohol, or you feel dizzier than usually, you should get help immediately.
Select reputable accommodation
While it could be a memorable experience to stay at a local’s place during your travels, you could be better off selecting a reputable, official accommodation. This applies especially if you’re traveling by yourself, which poses you in a more vulnerable situation.
Pay attention to public transportation
Hailing a taxi from the sidewalk could be more accessible and convenient. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t recommend this, particularly if you travel solo. Not only that this could make you the victim of sexual assault, but it could increase the risk of getting robbed.
How to Protect Your Car from Getting Stolen when Traveling
Car theft is another source of worry for many travelers. Whether it’s your personal vehicle or a rented car, having it stolen is far from being something you’d wish to experience while traveling abroad. So, the following hacks could be effective in this respect.
Keep an eye on your keys
In the event in which your car goes missing, the first thing a police officer will ask is whether you have the keys or not. Many people often hide a spare key in an obvious place such as under the wheel-well. Nevertheless, criminals have become aware of that. While getting locked out of the car isn’t convenient in any way, this isn’t the way to avoid that.
It’s safest to choose your parking spot intelligently. By that, we mean parking the vehicle in a well-lit, public area, which could discourage criminals from going after your car. Additionally, parking in the proximity of building entrances, which feature security cameras could further maximize your protection.
Don’t forget valuables in the car
Unfortunately, many persons whose cars end up getting stolen have left important valuables in their cars. Sadly, even leaving some loose change in your vehicle could lure criminals to break in. Still, if you absolutely need to leave something in your car, such as your laptop or purse, it would be best if you placed in the trunk. Beware though; a criminal could watch you do that and break into your car as soon as you leave the area. So be doubly cautious to the people surrounding you.
Get an anti-theft system
Anti-theft systems, an anti-theft alarm device included, could be your best defense against having your car stolen. In fact, you could even benefit from a discount from your insurance company if you have such a system installed.
Distinct from a car alarm, an immobilizing device would make the automobile inoperable when the thief is inside. These kinds of devices encompass kills switches that automatically shut off the engine and other additional features.
Apart from that, you can always get a tracking system installed, which could help the police indicate the car’s location. Even though these devices are effective in helping the police recover the vehicle, they could also prevent the automobile from actually being stolen.
How to Protect Yourself from Getting Killed When Traveling Abroad
Next, we will like to address the primary precaution measurements you should exercise to optimize your safety when traveling abroad. Here are our suggestions:
Always wear a seatbelt
In lines with the statistics from the World Health Organization, more than 3000 people are killed as a result of car accidents, other being disabled or injured. In truth, road crashes represent no less than 2.1 percent of the total amounts of deaths, globally.
Typically, most of these deaths occur in middle or low-income countries such as Africa and Thailand, which have high scores in this respect. That being said, you should always wear a seatbelt, whether you have rented a car or gotten a cab. Considering that you are traveling along in a taxi, you should always sit in the back seat behind the driver. This gives you a better chance of getting out of the vehicle if necessary.
Moreover, traveling internationally exposes visitors to a range of illnesses and viruses. As with anything else, being prepared for the worst case scenario is mandatory. So, as a general rule, you should do your research before you leave, and get acquainted with the primary risks. Also, carry in mind that people suffering from various diseases cannot be given certain vaccines.
Don’t accept a room on the ground floor
Moving on to accommodation, it is just as important as where you take your meals. The minute you arrive at your hotel, you should keep your luggage with you at all times. You shouldn’t depend on the staff for keeping it safe. Numerous people have their baggage stolen when they check in our out of their hotel.
Additionally, you should never accept a room on the ground floor, since that exposes you to getting attacked since the ground floor is easily accessible by criminals.
Don’t be flashy
I wouldn’t recommend you walking around with an expensive camera or extravagant jewelry. This could make you seem like an attractive victim to criminals. You should be doubly mindful especially at night since during nighttime, the incidence of criminal events grows. Always keep your wallet in the front pocket and try to blend in as much as possible. In this way, you don’t draw attention to you which could determine a criminal to go after you and your possessions.
Top Five Countries You Should Avoid Visiting (By Statistics)
Unfortunately, during recent years, the world has become a dangerous place. On that note, according to official information, there has been a significant decline in security and safety in the Middle East, Africa and other regions around the world.
Even though the world has become a bit more peaceful in comparison with the previous year, the safety status for 63 countries has significantly deteriorated. Concurrently, the gap between the least and most peaceful country in the world has enlarged. Apart from that, according to statistics, a 240 percent increase in deaths determined by terrorism has been noted.
So, what are the main aspects that influence the establishment of the most dangerous countries? The presence or absence of domestic and international conflict, terrorist activity, the degree of militarization, ease of access to guns, political instability, and so on.
In lines with official information, Syria is renowned as the most dangerous country in the world. It’s no surprise that massive waves of Syrian refugees and immigrants arrive in Europe today to seek shelter.
The Syrian Civil War started in 2011, and it has led to more than 76,000 civilian casualties. Additionally, approximately 250,000 people have been killed, and 1.5 million have been injured. If we were to compare these numbers with the total of the population – 17 million people, it is easy to see why most Syrians flee from their homeland.
What triggered this conflict was the rivalry between rebel groups and the oppressive dictator Bashar al-Assad. As the locals didn’t want to support the ruler, the dictator aimed at shutting down the voice of the citizens by using brutality and military force.
According to Amnesty International, the government has actually carried out attacks that targeted civilians, residential areas or medical facilities. Apart from that, government forces also administered sieges, in this way trapping civilians and preventing them from accessing food or medical care.
Needless to say that this political anarchy was the primary element that led to the enlargement of rebel groups such as the Free Syrian, and so on.
As a result of the ongoing war, the greater majority of people that have the chance to escape choose to do so, since that is their only chance to survive.
Afghanistan also earns a top position in the least safe countries around the world. That is primarily because it features a high threat of terrorism.
Speculating that Afghanistan was the home for terrorists, US soldiers have occupied this country since 2001. Consequently, the infrastructure has been wrecked, the economic situation is worrying, just as the high rates of employment. Hence, the youth has turned towards extremist groups.
Large-scale terrorist incidents, vehicle borne attacks, improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, and other similar occurrences are commonplace in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has the lowest peace ranking in South Asia, according to the GPI. It has experienced the expansion of insecurity, as the criminal activity has boosted.
Due to the ongoing internal conflict, thousands of people have been displaced. Regrettably, most didn’t get humanitarian assistance from the government. Apart from that, Afghanistan still applies the death penalty, most of the time after discriminatory, cruel trials.
Also, aside from the high terrorist threat, Afghanistan has the 5th highest crime index in the world.
Although the US has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, the situation in the country continues to deteriorate, especially if we were to refer to human rights.
After the Iraqi Civil War that started in June of 2014, this country has been separated into three parties. In plain English, after the US troops left Iraq in 2011, Sunni militant groups initiated a range of attacks that targeted the Shi’a population. The purpose of these attacks was to diminish the people’s confidence in the government.
In 2014, the insurgency intensified their efforts significantly, which contributed to the current Syrian Civil War. From 2014 to 2015, approximately 30,000 of civilians were killed due to violence. Apart from that, terrorism remains a top threat. After the US invasion, a wide range of terrorist groups have been created, which led to a conglomeration of attacks.
At present, the primary problem in Iraq is the expansion of the terrorist group ISIS, which could gain ultimate control of important cities.
In 2011, was separated into two countries: South Sudan and Sudan. From that point onward, the country had been the background for a succession of military confrontations between distinct tribes aiming at gaining utter control and power. This ever-growing conflict led to the deaths of a multitude of people.
At the same time, South Sudan deals with a range of severe health conditions such as malaria and epidemic HIV.
In truth, a violence outbreak has been reported between the 8th and 12th of July 2016. During that timeframe, more than 200 people were victims to rape. The event that burst in July 2016 was a severe setback, indicating the severity of the country’s situation.
And lastly, Yemen is seriously afflicted by terrorism. Apart from that, this country is tormented by a civil war between Houthi rebels and the allies of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It is needless to say that this severe conflict has determined a high level of destruction.
Both sides are held liable for initiating atrocities. The Saudi forces, for example, have committed acts that violate the human rights. Houthi extremists, Al Qaeda, and other affiliates of the Islamic state are renowned as the most active terrorist groups.
To sum up, that’s pretty much everything you should know to be safe during your travels. It’s always recommendable to be aware of your surroundings, gather the necessary information regarding the place you’re visiting, and embrace the right strategies for boosting your safety.
Being informed could definitely make a difference and diminish the likelihood of becoming a victim of theft, rape or another type of crime. Stay safe!