Safe Travel Guide:
Travel Safety Tips for Backpackers

Safe travel is paramount. Nothing is more important when you're on the road than your health and personal safety.

Unforeseen trouble can crop up anywhere. Not just in chaotic, overcrowded megacities or desolate, scarcely-populated locations but also in friendly, familiar places where you'd least expect anything to happen.


But don't lose sleep over travel safety worries. Except for the occasional (and sometimes unavoidable) minor rip-off here and there, most backpackers can and do manage to get around the world perfectly safely — even when they travel solo.


safe travel motorcycle ho chi minh vietnam Remember, kids . . . safety first! – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Dennis Jarvis on Flickr

Essentials of Safe Travel

Even with a personal bodyguard, you could never be 100% safe everywhere you go, all of the time.

But there are ways to minimise your risks and avoid possible danger:

Get informed

  • Check reliable travel advisories for any warnings against travel to the countries you plan to visit.
  • Read up on all the tricks, cons, scams and rip-offs that travellers tend to fall prey to abroad.
  • Talk to other backpackers. Ask about their experiences on the road and any safe travel issues they may have had along the way.

Stay alert

  • Know what's happening around you — be aware of your situation and of your surroundings.
  • Remain especially observant when unusual or unexpected distractions suddenly arise.
  • Listen to your instincts. If your gut feeling tells you that something looks shady, dubious or suspicious, there's a good chance it is.

Be prepared

  • Take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of you and your backpacking gear.
  • Plan how you'll deal with things that do go wrong.
  • Be ready to react at the first sign of trouble.

safe travel fire buckets udaipur india Local fire department at the ready in Udaipur, India ShoestringBackpacking.com

How to Stay Safe
Backpacking Around the World

You can be pretty sure that at some point during your backpacking around the world adventures something will take an unpredicted turn. Hopefully nothing too serious — but what if it is?

The key to safe travel is knowing what could happen, taking safety measures to try to avoid it happening and having a course of action in place in case it does happen.

So, taking it from the top . . .

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    Where are you planning to go? Are you sure these are all safe destinations for travel? Are there any danger zones on your list?

    One way to find out is to stay up to date with the travel warnings posted on government and embassy websites. These are official travel advisories issued for destinations where there may be war, political unrest, threat of terrorism or other trouble.

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    Do you have your international travel health insurance sorted out yet?

    Depending on your plans, cheap travel insurance could be fine. Just make certain you get all the recommended travel vaccinations and any other necessary medical treatment before you leave home.

    And be sure both you and your gear are adequately covered wherever you go!

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    Have you thought about safe air travel and travel on local or public transport?

    Airline safety and airport security have never been more important. And safe travel on buses, boats and trains is crucial. You've also got bicycle, motorcycle and taxi safety to think about as well as rental car safety for the more flashpacking than backpacking crowd.

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    How will you keep your travel money, documents and backpacking gear safe?

    The safest way to stash your cash and valuables is in a money belt, neck wallet, leg wallet or other security pouch. As for your backpack, consider luggage locks, anti-theft wire mesh covers or even lightweight cables for securing it to hostel beds or bus roof racks.

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    What about hotel and hostel safety? How do you stay safe in hostel dorms and other cheap rooms?

    Getting a padlock or combination lock to secure hostel room doors and lockers (if there are any) is a start. Your hostel might even have a safe where you can store small items.

    But don't forget things like fire safety, too. In this case, a small travel smoke detector wouldn't go amiss.

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    Is safe travel for women or solo travel something you need to consider?

    There are lots of precautions you can take to stay out of harm's way — like learning self defense or investing in personal safety gear. For example, you know that portable smoke detector? It's also a powerful LED flashlight (or torch, if you prefer) and an ear-piercing emergency signalling alarm!

    You might also want to get yourself a copy of The Art of Solo Travel. It's full of great travel and safety tips that'll help you to prepare for your trip and set your mind at ease.

What Are You Waiting For?

solo travel book

Feel like you've been putting off your round the world trip forever?

Wish you knew someone who's been there, done that to show you the ropes?

Need that one last little nudge to finally get yourself out there?

Then The Art of Solo Travel is for you!

Jam-packed with practical advice and invaluable inspiration, this book is like having a friend walk you through it all — from start to finish!

Get more info and a FREE preview!
(P.S. It's not just for girls.)

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    Are you up on your street safety? Do you know how to foil pickpockets, avoid travel scams, ward off sexual harassment and steer clear of serious crime? Could you tell a real street beggar apart from a thief?

    Safe travel is all about being able to recognise a dicey situation in the first place and then knowing how to protect yourself if you get caught up in it.

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    Would you know what to do in the face of natural disasters?

    Tsunamis, earthquakes, avalanches, floods and other catastrophic events often happen out of the blue. You can't always anticipate or avoid them — but you can be prepared and equipped to deal with them if they occur.

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    Have you put together a travel first aid kit?

    There's no need to go overboard with this but do pack in a few basics such as plasters (Band Aids), antiseptic wipes, paracetamol, rehydration tablets, water purifiers, safety pins and tweezers.

    You can either buy a ready-made first aid kit or assemble your own to suit your specific destinations.

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    Do you know how to ensure that your fruits and veggies are safe to eat? That your water is safe to drink?

    It's easy to forget about food safety when that great little backpacker café by the beach serves up such temptingly cheap dishes. But there's nothing like a nasty bout of Montezuma's revenge (a.k.a. traveller's diarrhea) or a trip to the local clinic to snap you back to reality!

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    Heading for the tropics?

    Sun safety is something none of us can afford to ignore. Make sure you have decent sunglasses with proper UV protection, a broad-spectrum sunscreen or sun block with a high SPF rating and a good sun hat.

    Oh, and don't forget the insect repellent.winking smiley


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