How to Protect Yourself While Traveling

Traveling is fun, stimulating, and exciting! More people in 2020 are working remotely while traveling the world than ever before, and those numbers will continue to rise in the years to come. Every traveler has their laptop and a smartphone, where they are accessing private information and personal data with the touch of a button.

The convenience of it is great, but it can also be dangerous. As you jump onto new networks and access community wifi, your information can be more easily accessed – and your personal information can be stolen. Tons of people have had their identities stolen, their personal data illegally used, and their private information viewed as they travel through foreign countries.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails, Explore, Dream and Discover."

- H. Jackson Brown

Understand what solo travel means:

When someone talks about solo travel, it doesn't mean that you need to set a fixed departure itinerary with a travel agency, go around tourist spots and come back. I really don't know what to expect from that type of a trip. Of course, you'll have fun visiting a new place and experiencing their culture, But will the trip change something within you?

Will its impact stay with you forever? I'm not sure. So first, you need to understand the difference between a vacation and a solo expedition. A vacation is just what I described above, Book tickets with a travel agency, set a fixed itinerary, staying at a luxurious hotel, go around and see places with tourist guides and relax away your worries.

See what solo travel is about? It's about traveling to not only a place but traveling to the people of the place, traveling to the stories of the place, traveling to the culture of the place. Sail away from the safe harbor.

So, go for it, Be it a place which is at an hour's distance from your city or somewhere which is countries apart! Try being on your own, interact with locals, understand their lifestyle, take public transport to navigate, try local delicacies and find inspiration that motivates you to take a step closer to your dream.

Of course, you need to do proper research about the place you are going to. Maybe get a hold of a few important phrases in the local language or a few important customs and gestures. It will certainly help you if you learn some common phrases in the local language. Phrases like ‘Please’ or ‘Thank You’ or phrases for asking for direction will help you commute easily with the locals.

And yes, do make an itinerary but don't saturate it with tourist spots and famous destinations. Take time to research. Find places that have stories to tell. Find people who can connect with you.

Get inspired by the differences you will find in the daily lives of people in a new place and learn to get familiar with a strange new place. So yes, do get that cliched selfie at the Taj Mahal. But don't forget to have a chat with many locals who see the Taj every day and find out how Taj looks through their eyes! Voila, you have your solo travel basics sorted!

Think about it. When you solo travel you get to:

  • Do what you want, when you want
  • Explore all of your intellectual curiosities
  • Learn about other cultures, religions, histories
  • Eat ALL the amazing food
  • Meet locals and other travelers alive
  • Overcome challenging moments and obstacles
  • Create quiet space to reflect
  • Flex your confidence by proving to yourself that you can do it all on your own
  • Understand yourself better
How to Protect Yourself Online While Traveling

Because of this, it is now more important than ever to take the appropriate measures to stay safe while traveling the world.

1. Unique Passwords on Everything

Most people use a similar password across many platforms, and this leads to having someone access more than one of your personal accounts. You need to create unique passwords for every account – and keep them to yourself! Look into the best ways to protect your passwords

2. Protect Your Email

There are tons of ways to safely use your email so you won’t have to worry about accessing your accounts while on the road. An email add-on can connect to your Outlook and offer an end-to-end encryption service that will keep your information private. All of your data is saved separately and is encrypted so only you have access to the information you receive and send.

You share and receive a lot of personal information through your inbox, so keeping it protected is an important thing to do when traveling to foreign countries.

3. Don’t Use Public Wifi Networks

Public Internet networks can leave you unprotected – and is a good way to have your information stolen. Public networks are usually wide open to whoever wants to join, and the security is often weak. Be careful when you’re hopping in and out of wifi networks in foreign countries because it could come back to burn you.

4. Log Out Every Time

If you are using a community computer to access things like social media and email, you need to ensure that you log out every single time. By not logging out, you leave your information available to anyone who wants it. You should also log out of things like email and your banking apps whenever on the road and using new networks. By not logging out, your accounts will be more accessible to hackers who can find a way into your devices.

5. Two-Step Verification on Credit and Debit Cards

The most important thing while traveling is the need to protect your online banking information in a way that still allows you to access it. So, in a way, you need to open up the box when you need it but then close it (and keep it shut) the rest of the time.

6. Stay Away from Random ATMs

ATMs that aren’t directly connected to a reputable financial institute can be dangerous when submitting your card, password, and withdrawing money. These machines do not have the security that is used in bank machines owned by large institutions and should be used with caution.

If you can, find an actual bank to withdraw money from and stay away from these types of ATMs. Many people have had their information stolen and it has led to the loss of large sums of money.

7. Don’t Share Personal Data (Online or In-person)

This one might be obvious, but should not be ignored. Sharing your personal information can really come back to haunt you and could lead to having your identity stolen, or someone accessing your online accounts. Because of the risks that surround you while you travel, you need to be extra careful about what information you share and who you share it with.

You should try and keep as much information to yourself, like Address, Usernames, Passwords, Middle Names, Answers to security questions, Banking information, and more. Whether it’s online or in-person, do your best to keep valuable information to yourself so you drastically reduce the risks that surround you as you travel the world.

8. Keep Your Items Close

The first rule of traveling is to keep your things close to you. Make sure your wallet is always in your pocket (or fanny pack, backpack) and don’t leave your mobile devices somewhere they can be accessed. Take special measures to lock up your valuable items and to keep things close to you. It doesn’t take long for an item to go missing and, in the blink of an eye, you could be the target of a robbery.

Keeping things as close as you can should limit the risks you face while traveling.

9. Try Not To Worry, But Be Mindful Of the Risks

I am not trying to scare you, but everyone who travels should be wary of the risks they face while traveling. There are people all around the world who target tourists and many people have suffered by not doing whatever they can to be safe. Take care of yourself (and your items) and have fun!

10. Put business address on external luggage tags

Putting your home address alerts crooks there might not be anyone home at your home address. They'll contact fellow criminals in your hometown to alert them to the opportunity. A quid pro quo is the crook in your hometown will alert the crook at your destination if there's a similar opportunity. If you order room service ALWAYS ask for plates glasses and silverware for two. Dirty both sets before you put them in the hall.

Carry minimum luggage so that you can travel with ease and without paying extra charges anywhere. Before going on your travels, leave a copy of your schedule with a friend or member of the family. At least somebody, somewhere knows where you’re meant to be.

11. Do not enter hotel room right away

Security is not always your friend but depends on country. Be Careful. When staying in any hotel do the following. Once you get your room card key leave the hotel. Do not go directly to your room. If someone thinks you're a high-value target they'll follow you to your room hoping to jump you and steal what ever valuables you have. Come back a little later. Let the desk hold your luggage until you return.

When entering the hotel room, prop the door wide open with your heaviest suitcase, enter the room and check that it is indeed empty. Open wardrobes, glance under the bed, ruffle the window curtains and check behind the shower curtain if there is one. Most people enter and lock themselves in, which you wouldn’t want to do if there’s an intruder hiding on the inside.

Walk with purpose expression. Standing at street corners, looking lost and staring at your mobile is going to attract attention. Before leaving your accommodation, familiarise yourself on a map with the route ahead and walk with confidence.

12. Throw the food pamphlets

Never order food from flyers pushed under your hotel room door. If they actually prepare food they are typically unlicensed and uninspected by the health department. If they don't make food they'll show up at your door with a bag or box that looks like it might be your order. As soon as you open the door they're in your room; too often with a weapon. They'll steal everything of value you have.

13. Don’t give your expensive cellphones to random people to take a picture

See who is carrying a DSLR. If someone is carrying a DSLR, infer that they would not run away with cellphone and that they would know something about clicking pictures. Ask only these people to take pictures.

Do not click photos from people near popular tourist attractions if you want to save money. Because many of them click your picture and Photoshop it with their pre-developed template and charge you way more than what a single picture would cost. This is optional in most of the cases, but once you see your picture hanging around the wall of all the pretty faces you will eventually buy them, its a trick.

14. Know the flight restrictions on drones

Higher priced drones have what is called geo-fencing. If you fly near a restricted area, and come to the line of where the restricted area starts, the drone will either return to the homepoint where you took off, or it can land. Warnings appear on your mobile device when you get within a certain range of a restricted area.

15. Know the accepted way of payment

Some countries accept cash only. In other countries you won’t even need cash unless buying street side food. Do this research in advance, it would help you buy cheaper currency. Make use of multi-currency enabled Forex cards for traveling across the region 90% of the times. Use cash just 10% of the times. You should always keep your cash in different bags for safety reasons.

Get credit and debit cards that don’t charge you fees. You can end up spending HUNDREDS on bank fees while away. Bring back up cards in case you lose your main ones.

Google free ATMs in each country you go to. This way you can avoid getting charged ATM fees. Set a budget for each country you go to and try to stick to it to avoid overspending and running out of money before your trip is over. Do some research beforehand on the broad costs of things in each country like food, accommodation and travel so you are aware of the countries where you might need to expand your budget.

In cheaper countries, don’t go crazy, keep it cheap to make up for the more expensive ones.
Kalyan Panja