Hard Copy of Flight Itinerary
I never thought to travel with a paper copy of my flight itinerary until I was stopped at the Panamanian border control, trying to re-enter Costa Rica. My friends and I had traveled to Panama for a weekend get-away. We had crossed into Panama with ease, only needing our passports and a few bucks to pay for visas. We didn't realize trying to get back over the border would prove to be more difficult...
You might not be lucky enough to have a wailing ginger as a travel companion. So plan ahead. Research the countries you are traveling to and see what they require to cross borders. And just to be safe, pack a paper copy of all important documents (passport, credit cards, student cards, etc.). You never know what you might need.
Whether you are staying in a 5-Star hotel or an airbnb, you never know who has access to your room. A door stop is a cheap way to give you peace of mind and protect you from possible intruders. As a female who often travels solo, I'm all about affordable safeguards that won't weigh down my luggage.
You hear of stolen credit cards all the time. Its pretty common nowadays. But you can't understand the feeling of having all of your money wiped from your bank account until you are in a foreign country and it happens to you. My sister and I were just beginning our vacation in Scotland, when her debit card information was stolen. We were getting groceries and we decided to use the store's ATM. Both of us withdrew money but within a few hours, four fraudulent withdrawals were made with my sister's card and her account balance dropped to $0. Someone had scanned her card info and took it for a shopping spree. Its hard to fully protect yourself from fraud but you can make smarter choices to help prevent it.
- When withdrawing cash, use an ATM at a bank. Don't use random "free withdraw" machines at the local grocery store.
- Purchase a RFID blocking card holder. It prevents scanners from snatching your information. Criminals can also steal your pin number with thermal imaging devices that measure heat from your thumbprint when you enter your pin. Post withdrawal, type in additional numbers using the pin pad to scramble the information you leave behind.
- Protect your assets by using credit cards instead of a debit card while traveling. Its a lot easier to deal with credit card fraud than having your bank account depleted. Some banks (like my sister's bank) required her to physically sign paperwork at the bank to file the fraud charges. Also, credit cards can offer sweet perks like zero foreign transaction fees, points for purchases, and pin numbers to withdraw cash.
Assign An Emergency Contact
You never know what can happen while you are exploring the world. Memories are made. Friendships blossom. Bags are stolen? Yes, unfortunately, theft is a factor of travel. Sometimes its just a few euro and other times its the passport, credit cards and phone. So what safeguards can you put in place in the event that your bag is stolen by a man on the metro? Have someone back home with all of your info: copies of your passport, credit cards, passwords, etc. They can be your saving grace when all hell breaks loose. If you are traveling for longer periods of time, I'd recommend giving someone you trust power of attorney. This enables them to act on your behalf during situations that require more security measures.
If you have come across any measures to keep you and your assets safe while traveling, share them in the comments below!